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ILL girls#8217; all-stars notch highest tourney finish

It wasn’t the ultimate goal, but it was a giant step in the right direction.

Although the Ironton Little League girls all-star team didn’t win the District 11 tournament, the did go 4-2 to finish third among 11 teams, the highest finish ever by an Ironton girls’ little league all-star team.

“I’ve been involved with these girls the last four or five years. In terms of all-stars, I saw some things these girls could do,” said manager Gary Murnahan.

“I thought I saw some talent that could be pushed up, if you will. These girls can play. They just needed some direction.”

Murnahan said other leagues separate 9-and-10-year-olds from 11-and-12-year-old. Murnahan and his fellow coaches, Jimmy Potter and Chris Metzger, knew to overcome that handicap they had to focus their attention on the fundamentals.

“When you keep them together, some of them are going to miss out on something,” said Murnahan.

“A lot of these girls are the shortstop or second baseman on their team, so you have to re-tool them to play other positions they aren’t used to. That’s the toughest thing.”

Although the girls played unfamiliar positions, Murnahan said the players adjusted better than he expected.

“I believe in the fundamentals. I use things I’ve learned from (Ironton High School coaches) Bob Lutz, and Mike Burcham, and Phil Rice,” said Murnahan.

“Our infield was like a vacuum and our outfield chased everything down.”

Murnahan said once the girls bought into their roles, the team really came together in a short period of time.

“They didn’t like everything we did, but what impressed me about them was how they showed up to play every game and the level of play stepped up. They played as a team and helped each other out,” said Murnahan.

But Murnahan said the team’s success was helped immensely by his assistants and other volunteers.

“I was so proud of what they did. And I couldn’t have done it without Jimmy Potter and Chris Metzger and everyone else who helped out.”

Ironton lost 11-1 to traditional power Portsmouth West to start the tournament. Ironton had only four hits, two by Karlee McMackin. Electa Royal and Rebekkah Potter also had hits.

Ironton bounced back with a 16-0 win over Green. Potter was 3-4 while Emily Davis and Andi Kratzenberg were 2-3. McMackin and Erin Wetzel were 1-2.

Next came a 12-2 rout of Portsmouth. Potter and Kratzenberg had two hits each while Robilyn Kemper and Wetzel had hits.

A 10-3 win over South Point followed with Potter and McMackin getting two hits apiece. Davis, Kratzenberg, Wetzel, Tiffany Ailster and Maggie Thomas also had hits.

Potter pitched a no-hitter with 11 strikeouts and two walks as Ironton beat Rock Hill 10-1. Ironton took advantage of 10 walks, two by McMackin who was 2-2.

Potter and Kratzenberg had the other Ironton hits.

The Ironton all-stars faced Lucasville Valley in the loser’s bracket championship game only to lose 7-2. Ironton managed just two hits, one each by Potter and McMackin.

Ironton had 35 hits in the six games and scored 51 runs.

Leading the Ironton hitting were Potter who had 10 hits in 16 at-bats for a .625 batting average and McMackin was 8 of 10 for an .800 average. She also walked six times.

Kratzenberg was 5 of 14 (.357) to aid the offense.