MARTINS FERRY - The Martins Ferry softball team kept its OVAC Class 3A playoff hopes alive Thursday in impressive fashion. The Purple Riders (9-7) needed a little more than an hour in rolling past visiting Union Local, 18-1, in 4.5 innings,
Coach Paige Williams' squad, which is the defending 3A titlists, entered the week in the No. 4 spot, but has a chance to catch No. 3 Shenandoah before Saturday's cutoff. The Riders are 2-1 this week and play host to Magnolia at noon on Saturday.
If they play like they did Thursday, the Purple Riders could be a tough out for anyone.
Senior ace Cirstie Delguzzo scattered three singles and struck out a half-dozen while not issuing a free pass, and the Purple Riders showed their power at the plate by banging out 15 hits, including five doubles.
''The bats seem to be coming around. That confidence is quite catchy,'' Williams said.
Every starter but one had one of the 15 hits, scored and drove in a run.
''This was a total team effort,'' Williams said. ''The top of our order are the ones that usually provide our runs, but (Thursday) it was all the way through the lineup.''
While most every Purple Rider that stepped into the batter's box enjoyed success, it was the No. 8 and No. 9 hitters - senior Stephanie Perdok and freshman Brooklyn Monroe - that provided a major spark. The duo combined for four hits and five RBI, with Monroe slugging a pair of two-run doubles.
''We found out that Brooklyn was holding her breath in the batter's box,'' Williams said. ''We've got her breathing in there now, and it seems to be working.''
Another freshman, Katie Webb, continued her solid season at the plate with a single and two doubles that produced a pair of runs.
''Our younger girls have been hitting really well of late, but we have as a team, as well,'' Williams said.
Union Local (9-12), which has lost three straight after upsetting Harrison Central on Monday, took a 1-0 lead in the first when Olivia Minamyer's leadoff fly ball was misplayed. After an error allowed Minamyer to take third, she raced home on Alexis Brahler's sacrifice fly.
That was the only bright spot for coach Roger Herbert's Jets.
Martins Ferry scored three times in the bottom of the second, two coming on a Monroe two-bagger to left-center. The other scored on a Perdok single to left.
The Riders sent 10 batters to the plate in the third, with half of them crossing the plate as the margin ballooned to 8-1. Monroe had another double, this one to right-center, that knocked in two teammates. Cassie Hanson had a run-scoring single and Beth Hotlosz and run-producing double.
A 10-run fourth sealed the deal when Union Local committed five errors in the inning as 14 batters went to the plate. Webb collected a two-run double, while Delguzzo and Addie Suriano legged out infield RBI singles. Pinch-hitter Cierra Beall knocked in a run with a groundout.
''It seems like when one or two girls hit, everyone hits,'' Williams said. ''That's a good feeling.''
Delguzzo, who pitched Martins Ferry to the Division III regionals two seasons ago, retired 13 of the final 15 batters she faced. After the unearned run in the first, the Jets didn't got a runner past second base.
''Cirstie pitched really well,'' Williams praised. ''She was impressive.''
Herbert was short and to the point with his comments.
''The errors obviously killed us. This is two nights in a row that we've come out and laid an egg, and I'm actually embarrassed for our play,'' he said. ''It's my job to get this turned back around.''