GLEN DALE - John Marshall softball coach Ed West knew exactly what to expect when his No. 7-ranked Monarchs played host to No. 3 Wheeling Park on Tuesday. Another hard fought contest between the two Class AAA rivals.
In the end, it wasn't a big hit or a double play that decided the outcome. Instead, it was a walk.
Patriots senior ace Carly Greer stuck Jackie Gellner on a 1-0 count with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh as John Marshall survived a late Park rally and walked off with a 5-4 victory.
Photo by Tony Viola/John Marshall coach Ed West waves Bailey Filben home as Wheeling Park’s Kelsi Johnson looks on. The Monarch beat Wheeling Park 5-4 Tuesday.
It was the first meeting between the two since Park ended the Monarchs hopes of back-to-back state titles in a regional final a season ago.
"Anytime you play Park it's a big game,'' West said. "Most of the time it's a tough, hard fought game. I can remember two years ago, when we played them in the sectionals, we beat them by one, then they beat us by one and we beat them by one, again. They're all hard fought games. Last year, we hammered them a couple times early, then they come back and beat us in the regional final. It's always going to be a good game when we play Park.''
After the first three innings, it looked like John Marshall (8-3) was on its way to a sure victory.
Monarchs leadoff hitter Megan Wise, who finished 3 of 4 with a double, connected on the first pitch she saw and then scored on a Jessica Kinnick hit to give John Marshall an early lead.
The lead grew to 4-0 in the third when Gellner scored on an error, but that's when the Patriots, who haven't played in nearly two weeks, began to get back into form.
With two outs in the top of the fourth, Kaleigh Sidon tripled into right field to score Greer and Skyler Carrington to make it 4-2.
After three up and three down for the Monarchs, Ashleigh Sidon homered over the right field fence. That was followed up with a Kendra Johnson hit scored Greer to tie the game in the sixth.
Park (1-2) couldn't get anything going in the top of the seventh and John Marshall took full advantage.
Wise led off the inning with a double and scored the winning run when Gellner was plunked.
"I thought it was a very well-played game,'' West said. ''Both teams played hard, had some hits, and made some defensive plays. Pitching was pretty good and we were fortunate to get the last run.''
Sophomore Alyssa Blake earned a victory from the circle for the Monarchs as she retired three batters on strikes, while Greer took the loss.
"I thought she did well,'' Park coach Dee Davis said of Greer. ''She hasn't pitched since last Monday. She's working hard out there.
"Our problem is we don't have a lot of speed. We have a lot of power hitters. If our power hitters don't hit with power then we're out of luck. Our power hitters have got to hit the ball. Ashleigh has two home runs in three games but nobody has been on base either time. I've batted her first, I've batted her second and still no one was on. We have to get people on for her to get some RBIs.
"This is only our third game. Our second game was two weeks ago. You could see it. After we got our third at-bat in, we started hitting the ball, started fielding and started playing. We haven't seen live pitching. This is (John Marshall's) 11th game. They should almost be at their peak now. We'll be OK. We have a game (today) and the next day, so we should be getting better every time.''