WEIRTON - Wednesday at Starvaggi Park must have felt like deja vu for the Madonna softball team against Wheeling Central as the Blue Dons, much like Tuesday against Bishop Donahue, found themselves tied at 2-2 after five innings, falling behind in the sixth, and trailing by one run with Sara Lyons up with two outs and a runner in scoring position in the top of the seventh.
The Maroon Knights needed no spectacular defensive play to seal the deal though as pitcher Brittany Miller fanned Lyons swinging to seal the deal on a 3-2 victory in the West Virginia Class A Region 1, Section 1 tournament.
"It's a good win," Wheeling Central coach Rick Magruder said. "Both teams didn't play exceptionally well. You probably saw that. I don't know if it was nerves. We've been playing well, but to just get out here and get that win, we'll take it. (Madonna coach) Chris (Conti) does a great job with these girls.
Wheeling Central’s Sydney Bennington makes contact Wednesday.
Photo by Fred Younce
"A couple mistakes on our part and couple more on their part. It made the difference."
Madonna pitcher Amanda Pulice again was strong in defeat, giving up only four hits and walking one with none of the runs scored being earned. In Pulice's two tournament losses, she has been charged with just one total earned run.
"We played very well," Conti said. "I thought we played well. We left a couple people on base in situations during the game that we could have scored some runs. Amanda pitched a very good game for us."
The Blue Dons struck first in the fourth inning. Isabella Anile reached on a error to get things started and Stephanie Magnone followed up with a single. Amanda Paul pushed the runners to second and third with a sacrifice bunt and Letti Quattrochi sent them home with a single to make the score 2-0.
In the fifth, Wheeling Central tied the score. Emily Wizba drew a walk then advanced to second on a passed ball. Megan Griffin reached on an error, allowing Wizba to reach third and then Griffin took second due to defensive indifference. Joni Zavolta then reached on an error, allowing the base runners to score and things were knotted at 2-2.
Sydney Bennington led of the sixth with a single and then stole second for the Maroon Knights. Miller pushed her over to third with a sacrifice bunt. The next batter, Sarah Henry, grounded to short and Bennington was checked so she didn't advance. Unfortunately for the Blue Dons the throw to first was off target allowing Henry to reach base and, more importantly, Bennington to cross for the 3-2 Wheeling Central lead.
"We just tried to stress to them to relax and put the ball in play and see what happens," Magruder said. "That's all you can do. We were on the lucky end of it."
In the top of the seventh Emily Pietranton was hit by a pitch and Courtney Moss drew a two-out walk to put runners at first and second when Miller picked up her sixth strikeout.
Wheeling Central takes on Bishop Donahue today at Starvaggi Park for the first game in a best-of-three series.
"I'll tell you what," Magruder said. "They scrap. They're another one that always give us tough games. All three of us in this section, we just battle each other. It doesn't make any difference who's having a good year and who's having a bad year.
"You just can't overlook anybody."
Madonna's season ended with the loss.
"We have Stephanie (Magnone), Isabella (Anile), and Courtney (Moss) playing injured all year," Conti said. "When you're an underclassman you need to understand you have to have heart. Any sport you play it's all about heart. These seniors had the heart to play the game. They're out here giving it 110 percent. All the seniors did. Those three played with injuries all year long.
"Younger kids should see that these seniors wanted to play the game. That's good leadership to me."