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PAYO Baseball & Softball

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20

Jul, 2022

PAYO 9-11 Softball All-Stars take second straight District Title

Expectations are hard to live up to in sports, but that has not held back PAYO's 9-11 girls Little League softball team in 2022. "We knew we had a very, very talented group coming back after taking 3rd in the state last year," said head coach Luke Jernigan. "But instead of getting comfortable, we worked the girls even harder to get ready for this exact moment." It started with the Pymatuning Area Youth Organization's first-ever Fall Softball program, continues with winter workouts and resulted in the Majors Venom scoring a 19-1 regular season record, which included the local Tulino Tournament Championship.

The hard work for the PAYO 9-11 Softball All-Stars paid off on Tuesday night as they defeated Ashtabula 15-0 in dominating fashion. In a double elimination bracket that also included Cuyahoga Falls, seeing Ashtabula defeat them twice, the PAYO girls were faced and beat Ashtabula on July 15th, scoring a 21-11 win as Addison Paul scored 3 runs with 6 RBI and Kailee Reynolds added 4 runs and 3 RBI. In Tuesday's Championship Game victory, Peyton Hudson and Hannah Young combined to shut out Ashtabula and reach base in all 6 of their plate appearances to lead PAYO to a second consecutive District 1 Championship. 

A season ago it was different - there were no expectations. PAYO's two Minors teams combined their top players at the season's end and entered a team into the 9-11 bracket against Conneaut/Kingsville's combined Lakeshore All-Stars. The mixture of talent from the Minors Venom and Storm, along with one younger player from Majors softball, was able to sweep the Lakeshore All-Stars with 19-4 and 25-15 wins and advance to the state tournament. After a loss and a win in the State Tournament, also in Ashtabula, PAYO was one hit away from being in the Championship Game. "We lost to Gallia County Little League 15-14 with the winning run at second base and 2 outs in the bottom of the 6th inning," said Jernigan. "That game would have sent us to the State Championship. It was heart-wrenching and I have replayed that 6th inning of that game hundreds of times in my head."

While 9 of the 14 players on the 2022 team are new additions, the 5 girls returning will get a chance to return the favor of that loss as PAYO faces District 11 runner-up Gallia County LL on July 23rd in the opening game of the tournament at 10 am. The District 11 Champions Portsmouth will face Ashtabula Little League immediately after the PAYO game with the winners and losers matching up on Sunday. While the tournament is a double elimination format, the Championship Game, scheduled for Tuesday evening at 6 pm at Cederquist Park in Ashtabula, is a winner-take-all game. "Playing so close to home is really exciting for these girls and for our friends from the Ashtabula Little League," Jernigan added. "We all get to play in front of hometown crowds and I am hopeful that the fans will come out to support both our team and Ashtabula's squad. "We're all excited for the opportunity and we are hopeful that we can bring a rare State Championship home to Andover and Ashtabula County."

> Ohio Little League Baseball & Softball State Tournament brackets

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Pymatuning Area Youth Organization (PAYO), PO Box 1591
Andover, Ohio 44003

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