BELLAIRE - The last remaining unbeaten Ohio Valley Athletic Conference softball team is no more.
Lauren Figura took down St. John Central with her arm and bat Thursday at Amanda's Field as St. Clairsville handed the Irish (11-1) their first loss, 8-1.
The Red Devils senior slugged a pair of no-doubt, two-run home runs and scattered seven hits. She didn't strike out a batter and walked two. However, she was the beneficiary of some outstanding defensive plays by the left side of her infield and a fine running catch in center field.
"We needed to come back and get a win," St. Clairsville coach Rachel Duncan said after her team lost Wednesday at Martins Ferry. "We knew St. John was a good team, and it was important that we brought our offense, especially early on."
The visitors, who kept their OVAC Class 4A playoff hopes alive, tallied six runs in the first two innings off Irish ace Hannah Absalom.
Michaela Miller drew a two-out walk and stole second before Figura launched the first of her homers to right-center on a 2-2 pitch.
Antonia Hummel's bases-loaded double to right-center with two outs and two strikes in the second bumped the count to 4-0. A dropped fly ball in left added two more runs for a 6-0 advantage.
"That's always our goal is to have a strong first inning," Duncan said. "We did that. We were strong all the way through."
St. Clairsville finished with nine hits, the first five coming with two strikes.
"We talk about being aggressive and I definitely think we were, especially with two strikes," Duncan said. "Defensively, we made too many errors for our kind of softball."
St. John Central avoided being shut out with some aggressive baserunning in the fourth. Absalom looped a one-out single to left and went to third when the ball was overthrown returning it to the infield. When the relay throw was bobbled, she raced home with the lone Irish run.