BENWOOD - Bishop Donahue softball Coach Curt Mele will be the first to tell you that it is still early in the season with the calendar not even hitting the month of April.
However, he is also willing to admit that Wednesday's season-opening victory against fellow West Virginia Class A, and perennial power, Wheeling Central was a real nice way to open the 2013 campaign.
Senior standout Andrea Guzek limited the defending regional champion Maroon Knights to one hit and collected a double, triple and three RBI herself, as the Bishops capped a stellar game with four runs in the bottom of the sixth to gain a rare walk-off, 9-1, triumph against Wheeling Central at blustery Benwood City Park.
The one-hit setback came on the heels of a season-opening victory by Coach Rick Magruder's Knights on Tuesday in which Sarah Henry tossed a no-hitter against Weirton Madonna. Allie Cook's lead-off triple in the top of the sixth provided Central's only hit of the contest and eventually also cost Guzek a shutout on Sydney Bennington's one-out, run-scoring fielder's choice.
''This is a nice win to open the season,'' Mele said. ''And it makes it even nicer after we lost a scrimmage game to Martins Ferry last week that was not very pretty at all for us. But the girls really responded (Wednesday) and I could not be more proud of them.''
Both teams wasted opportunities in the opening frame, stranding a pair of runners each on walks. Donahue, however, finally got on the board in the third. Sommer South, who had two hits and reached base four times, got the second hit of the day, a one-out single to left field.
With two down, Guzek ripped a pitch deep over the right fielder's head for an RBI triple and a 1-0 Bishops lead. Ali Bauer's two-out run-scoring single in the fourth pushed the count to 2-0 before the hosts opened it up in the fifth.
South led off the fifth with a double and went to third on a Katie Scott single to left, with Scott scooting into second. Guzek's second RBI, on a sacrifice fly, made it 3-0 before Selena Ghaphery was hit by a pitch. Abbey Mele brought home another run with a single before Kat Polinski's fielder's choice made it a 5-0 margin.
After Central made it 5-1 in the top of the sixth, the Bishops again went to work with two down and this time and put an end to the game.
South got things started with a walk, went to third on Scott's single and scored on the only error of the game before Guzek plated another tally with a double to right-center field. Ghaphery's single made it 8-1 before Abbey Mele's base hit invoked the eight-run rule to finish things off.
''While this was nice, there is still an awful lot of softball to play and hopefully just one of many wins for us this season,'' Curt Mele added. ''Andrea pitched a phenomenal game and when she is on good things are normally going to happen for us.
''She is a four-year starter and we are going to rely on her very heavily all season long. She gave up the one hit, but it was a bomb by Allie Cook who is a very good hitter.''
Guzek finished with three strikeouts and four walks while Madison Basinger took the loss, fanning a pair and issuing three free passes.
''Guzek pitched a very good game and did a great job of hitting her spots,'' Magruder admitted. ''And Donahue hit the ball pretty decent and had a couple of real nice shots. They were just the better team today.''