STEUBENVILLE - Moore is better.
The job of a lead-off batter is to get on base and set the table for the rest of the team. Senior Ashley Moore did her job perfectly to lead the way for the Magnolia softball team against Catholic Central.
Moore recorded three hits, reached base safely four times and scored two runs as the Blue Eagles (3-1) soared past the Crusaders, 3-0, Monday evening at the Steve Zamana Softball Field.
"She did a good job for them," Steubenville Catholic coach Jim DiCarlo said. "She had a double in the first, and she had a little dinker that hurt us."
Moore doubled, singled twice and walked in her four at-bats in the game.
"Ashley definitely did a good job for us," first-year Magnolia coach Dillon Mangino said. "She set the table. Ashley was huge for us. She set the table for the rest of our hitters."
Moore started the game with a double over the head of Steubenville Catholic centerfielder Shayna Mirabella, and scored the first run of the game two batters later on a groundout to short. In the third, Moore reached on a hit in front of Mirabella with two outs, and scored on a two-run double by Abbey Durig three batters later.
Moore also singled in the fifth, and the leftfielder walked in the seventh.
Mallory Chapman collected the win for Magnolia. The senior allowed five hits, struck out four and did not allow a walk.
"Mallory hit her spots," Mangino said. "She pitched ahead in the count. She kept her pitch count low. She did a great job today."
Chapman also helped her own cause with a single and an RBI. Her RBI plated Moore in the top of the first inning.
Alex McComb took the loss for the Crusaders (0-1). McComb, the team's sophomore ace, allowed three runs on five hits. She struck out 11 and walked six.
Offensively, Megan Lloyd and Shayna Mirabella each tallied two singles to lead the way for the Crusaders. Brittany Bertoia also collected a base hit.
Both teams missed out on some opportunities to score. The Crusaders left seven runners on base, while the Blue Eagles left six. Six of the Crusaders' seven runners left on base were left in scoring position. The Blue Eagles left four runners in scoring position, and Magnolia left the bases loaded in the seventh inning without plating a run.
"We battled," DiCarlo said. "We made contact. We hit it. We just hit it right at people. We battled. We didn't give up.
"You have to give Magnolia credit. Chapman is a good pitcher, and they played good defense behind her. They made a lot of plays. You need to get some breaks. Magnolia got some breaks. We didn't."
After McComb was able to wiggle her way off of the hook in the top of the seventh, Steubenville Catholic attempted to mount a comeback in the bottom half of the inning.
With one out, Lloyd reached on a base hit, and Maddie Metcalf came in to run for her. Next, Shayna Mirabella reached when a pop fly dropped between the infield and the outfield in short centerfield. After a groundout, Micca Mirabella launched a line drive into the gap in right-center, but Magnolia centerfielder Stephanie Mullett was able to run the ball down and the senior made the running catch to end the game.
"That was a really nice catch," DiCarlo said. "It was a nice hit. We wanted her to get an extra-base hit into the gap where she could run. You have to give their centerfielder credit. She made the play.
"No excuses. We have to get better at the little things.
"Magnolia is a good team. They are one of the teams we are going to compete against in the OVAC. They are in our class. They are good competition. We may play them again down the road."
Neither team was perfect in the field. The Blue Eagles made three errors, while the Crusaders made one.
"We made some little mistakes, but we made the plays when we had to," Mangino said. "You have to give Steubenville Catholic credit. They battled. They made us work. Give them credit. They hit the ball hard."
The Blue Eagles and Crusaders have played some close games in the last few years, and Monday's game was another battle until the final out had been made.
"Catholic Central is a good team," Mangino said. "We love coming up here and playing them. They have some real-good athletes. They have some good softball players. They are always competitive."
The Blue Eagles are an experienced team, while the Crusaders have a mix of youth and experience.
"We started three freshmen, and they did fine," DiCarlo said. "Their nine girls are the same nine girls who started against us last year. We played two one-run games last year against them.
"They did a really-nice job. They are well coached. It is going to take a real-good game to beat them.
"I'm happy with how we battled. We battled hard. We will bounce back. It is no fun when you lose."