ELM GROVE - Martins Ferry coach Paige Williams had a hunch after the Purple Riders jumped out to an early 3-0 lead that Wheeling Park wouldn't lay down.
She was right.
Kendra Johnson hit a walk-off fielders choice to second base in the bottom of the eighth as the Patriots rallied to defeat Martins Ferry, 5-4, on Wednesday at Lisa's Field.
Wheeling’s Kristin Slater hits a pitch thrown by Martins Ferry’s Shaye DeLeonardis during their game Wednesday afternoon.
''We jumped out early,'' Williams said. ''We had some errors that hurt us. I, personally, had some coaching errors that I'd like to take back. But if you let a team like Wheeling Park stay with you long enough, this is what they're going to do to you.''
The Purple Riders (5-3) started the game hot as Kady Webb's double into left field drove in Cassie Hanson and a Tyrah King double cleared the way for Webb as Ferry went ahead 2-0 in the top of the first.
King then brought in Morgan Stalder on a single in the third and the Patriots (14-2) were looking at a 3-0 deficit.
''All the runs they got, we gave them,'' Park coach Dee Davis pointed out. ''Errors or misplayed balls or misthrows...I thought 'oh no we dug ourselves in a hole,' but I know we're a good hitting team.''
Park used a five-hit fourth inning to churn out its first run as Morgan Karnell smacked an RBI double to right field.
The Patriots went right back at it in the fifth as a Kelsi Johnson hit brought in Marissa Tucker and Ashleigh Sidon to tie the game at 3-3.
''Tucker's our leadoff. If she gets on, then that's going to start it,'' Davis said. ''Then we ended up getting two runs out of it.''
Ferry answered back in the sixth as a throwing error gave Kylie Stalder enough time to cross home.
Park then tied the game again when a Kelly Albers sac fly drove in Carly Greer in the bottom of the inning.
After neither team managed much in the seventh, the game went into extra innings, something that, according to Davis, played out in Greer's favor.
The junior then record three of her seven strikeouts in the frame and set the stage for the Patriot's offense.
''When she's in the groove, she's tough,'' Davis said. ''When she's out of the groove, we're a little shaky. But the last three batters, she was feeling it. The longer she goes in a game, the stronger she gets. It just showed right there. She did a great job.''
After Kelly Albers loaded the bases on a fielder's choice, the scene was set for Kendra Johnson's game-winning bouncer.
''I was real happy for Kendra,'' Davis noted. ''She doesn't play much, she just did because I had a few kids out. She did her job.
''They play tough, Martins Ferry did. I'm glad we came out with the victory.''