Ashland American’s age 9-10 softball All-Stars received another big game from Kenzi Robinson and took advantage of Olive Hill’s pitching wildness to cruise to the District 6 championship Thursday night.
Robinson, who turns 10 in July, held the Area 1 champs to a couple of infield singles and collected three hits herself as Ashland American won 10-3 at Oliverio Park.
“Kenzi played extremely well today, extremely well,” Ashland American coach Brad Hamilton said.
Along with her nine-strikeout pitching, Robinson drove in three runs, scored twice and reached base safely all four trips to the plate.
“She’s a very good player,” Olive Hill coach Jeff Adkins said. “Their third and fourth hitters are very tough. I’m sure they hit the ball as far as some of the boys their age.”
Ashland American third baseman Olivia Mulhearn, who bats third, lofted a run-scoring double in the fifth inning and scored on Robinson’s third hit of the night. In the Area 2 tournament, Mulhearn hit a towering home run over the left-field fence to set off cheers from the home crowd.
“That’s the first one I’ve seen in four years of coaching Little League all together,” Hamilton said. ”“It means a lot when you have those two in the middle of the lineup. The first two (Camryn Cassidy and Sydney Suman) get on regularly, so that means a lot of RBIs.”
Cassidy and Suman each walked and scored in a five-run fourth inning highlighted by Robinson’s two-run double.
Ashland American swept two games from Stan Spence at the area level, then carried that momentum into the District 6 tournament. Olive Hill, meanwhile, was coming off four consecutive wins after dropping its Area 1 opener.
Olive Hill pitcher Karianna Back struck out the side in the first inning, but Ashland American utilized 13 walks and a hit batter over the next three innings to build an 8-1 lead. The first three runs came courtesy of bases-loaded passes.
“They haunt you,” Adkins said. “They haunted us a lot. That’s the only way Karianna gave up runs the whole tournament. When she’s on, she’s really good. Unfortunately, Ashland had some better hitters than we’ve seen so far.”
Three of Ashland American’s five hits came in the fifth inning.
Olive Hill generated 51 hits in five Area 1 games, but Robinson had them chasing several high pitches out of the strike zone without success. After Allie Stone reached on a grounder up the middle to lead off the game, Olive Hill’s only other hit came on Sarah Oppenheimer’s soft pop fly that fell in front of Mulhearn along the third-base line.
“It’s a testament to their pitcher,” Adkins said after Robinson’s third complete game of All-Star play. “We put the bat on balls, but couldn’t seem to find holes anywhere. Ashland is here for a reason.”
Ashland American advances to the State Tournament in Somerset.
“We’re having fun, that’s what I like the most,” Hamilton said. “There’s no pressure. The girls are just enjoying it.”
Shortstop Tabitha Cassidy walked three times and scored twice for the district champs. Mulhearn crossed the plate three times, while Emma Rice, Camryn Cassidy, Sarah Litteral and Anna Heineman each drew a bases-loaded walk.
Olive Hill had nine players available Thursday, one less than normal. Adkins lamented missed scoring opportunities in the third and fourth innings, but that did nothing to diminish his admiration for the team.
“It’s the second straight year we lost the first game (area level) and came back to win it,” Adkins said. “I’m proud of them. There was a lot of talk of Fleming probably coming out of our area, but we beat them twice (13-7 and 9-6) to get here.”