Junior shortstop Kaylynn English is a leader on the girls softball team from Parker’s Legend High School.
English was the spark plug for the Titans with three hits, two runs scored and three stolen bases as Legend downed nearby Chaparral, 3-0, on Oct. 4 to win the regular season Continental League softball championship.
“She is a good kid,” said Legend coach Kristen Shirk. “She definitely sets the tone for our team. She knows that. That puts more pressure on her at times but she was pretty loose (against Chaparral) and set the tone. We do play to win banners for the school. That’s a goal.”
English got three singles in four at-bats and her base running led to Legend’s first two runs, which staked them to the early lead which they held.
She led off the game with a single, moved to second on a wild pitch, stole third base and scored on another wild pitch.
“Baserunning is my favorite part of the game,” said English. “I love catching people and when I’m on third I look for the pitch in the dirt or up high.”
In the third inning, English led off again with a single, advanced on a wild pitch and stole home to score the second run when the catcher was not sharp throwing the ball back to the pitcher.
“I saw she (catcher) didn’t look at me at all and kind of lobbed it (the ball) back to the pitcher._I looked at my coach and she nodded her head and I knew what that meant.
“The next pitch she didn’t look at me and I just went.”
Chap needed to defeat Legend to gain a share of the league title, but the Titans wound up the regular season with a 19-4 overall record and 9-1 in the league. The Wolverines finished at 17-6 overall with a 7-3 league mark.
The title game matched two of the Continental League’s best pitchers in Legend junior Cameron Ponich and Chap senior left-hander Emma Crosby.
Each pitcher allowed six hits and struck out 12 batters. Ponich lowered her earned run average to 1.57 with 157 strikeouts.
English’s three hits raised her batting average to .536 and the fact that it came in a championship game against a team from a rival school was important.
“I’ve faced her (Crosby) since I was 8,” recalled English. “She’s always been one of the top pitchers. I was nervous but I had confidence and trusted myself.”
Chap stranded six of the eight runners it left on base in the final four innings.
“We had the tying run on but we have a lot of young kids,” said Chap coach Alan DiGiosio. “Cam’s (Ponich) a pretty dominant pitcher so we were in it in the seventh so I’ll take that.
“I’ll put Crosby up against anybody. She’s had a heck of a year. She was right there with Cam neck to neck. She gave up six hits and three in that leadoff spot and nothing more than singles. We were 3-13 last year and nobody picked us to do anything this year so to be 17-6 is pretty remarkable.”
Both Legend and Chap are expected to host two of the eight regional state qualifying tournaments to be held Oct. 16. Two teams from each regional will advance to the 16-team Class 5A state tournament, which will be held Oct. 22-23 at the Aurora Sports Park.
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