Across the street from the softball field outside Firestone Stadium, the bells of St. Elia the Prophet Orthodox Church began to toll at noon Sunday.
At the same time, Bloom-Carroll pitcher Taran Alvelo was putting the finishing touches on a no-hitter against Stow to give her team a 2-0 victory in the battle of the Bulldogs at the Akron Racers Rock-n-Fire Invitational.
Some in the crowd chuckled as if the bells were tolling for the Stow players trying to figure how to hit the sensational freshman who has the look of a senior, from her height to her build to her mannerisms.
It also doesn’t hurt that Alvelo throws a full variety of pitches at different speeds and her fastball is believed to reach at least in the high 50-mph area. She had 204 strikeouts already this season before the tournament.
“I have been playing travel ball since I was eight,” said Alvelo, who is committed to playing at the University of Washington because she loves Seattle. “I kind of expected it [to do well in high school] since I have played ball at such a high level.”
Alvelo’s domination was evident throughout the game as the young Stow hitters struggled to get bat on ball, striking out eight times with three runners reaching base — two on errors and one on a walk to senior Alisha Habyan.
“I say she ranks right up there with the other good pitchers we’ve had,” Bloom-Carroll assistant Wendell Miller said of Alvelo.
That is no small statement as Bloom-Carroll (20-2), a school located between Columbus and Lancaster, was Division III state champion in 2006 and 2007.
“We had heard about her all week and she is the real deal. A typical Division I pitcher has great size, brings different pitches and absolutely controls it,” Stow coach Doug Hawkins said. “She might have been a bit intimidating to some of our hitters.”
It was a tough loss for another freshman pitcher, Sadie Jones (14-7) of Stow, who scattered six hits and struggled only in the top of the first inning.
Bloom-Carroll’s Sommer Althaus hit a one-out double and scored on Abby Grover’s RBI double. Grover came out on a two-out single by Erica Smith.
Stow’s Stephenie Little also did a good job of filling in at catcher as starter Lindsay Jones was given time off to rest her injured knee. Little threw one Bloom-Carroll runner out trying to steal and hustled to grab a wild pitch and tag out another runner trying to come home to score on the play.
Stow (14-7) has already made its mark by going unbeaten in the River Division and has a big game this week with Twinsburg after playing four games this weekend.
It is especially impressive considering the team has freshmen in the lineup: Jones, outfielder Erin Kolke, second baseman Kelsey Steiger and third baseman Chrissy Vaughan.
“This team has exceeded my expectations already. We have four freshman, with three starting and the other coming in rotation,” Hawkins said. “I knew we would be decent, but we played really well. We have scored a lot of runs and that gives her [Sadie Jones] support and we support her defensively.”
Hawkins said his players don’t get too up or down for big games. The girls just like to go out and play softball.
“We hope we gain experience to help us to get ready for the [postseason] tournament and get better every game,” Hawkins said.
Read the high school blog at www.ohio.com/preps.