WHEELING - Another game at Ben's Field, another gem by Hannah Absolom.
The St. John senior fired a 13-strikeout, two-hit masterpiece and then did the job at the plate, with a home run (her sixth) and three RBI as the Fighting Irish defeated Paden City 5-1 in the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Tom Bechtel Class 1-A softball championship game Saturday at the 1-470 complex.
In the circle. she never really gave the Wildcats a chance, retiring 11 of the first 12 hitters by strikeout.
St. John’s Hannah Absolom taps knuckles with Coach?Jerry Magistro.
What Paden City couldn't muster at the plate, Absolam did.
She had an RBI groundout in the first inning and then delivered the dagger with a two-run home run in the third inning.
Paden City coach Jeannie Fox said it shouldn't have come to that.
"The goal was for her to never see a ball that she could hit," Fox said. "Unfortunately we got too close to the corner a couple of times. It's really tough for a pitcher to force it to the outside like that. She's just an outstanding player in very aspect."
Absolam said she knows the drill. Keep the ball away.
"I know they want to keep the ball away, but when I come up I'm looking for anything I can hit," Absolam said. "I never like to surrender and take a walk. I want to hit the ball."
She did just that in two key situations.
After Taylor Lowe drew one-out walk and moved around to third on a wild pitch and a stolen base, Absolam grounded sharply to third, allowing Lowe to score the first run of the game.
In the third, with two out, Lowe was on first, reaching on a fielder's choice, and Absolam smashed a 1-1 pitch over the left-field fence to give the Fighting Irish a 3-0 lead.
"She had good range with the bat," coach Jerry Magistro said. "Anything close, she's able to drive. She's really been an all-around player for us. She plays well for us in the outfield, too. She has a cannon for an arm. She gets the job done at the plate and she's one of the best pitchers in the area."
Paden City would not disagree.
Absolam struck out the side in the second, third and fourth innings and had two in the first inning.
"That was the best pitching performance we've seen this season," Fox said.
After Paden City had two runners reach via a hit batsman and error, Absolam struck out the next two hitters to end the threat.
Paden City's Tori Anderson had the first of two Paden City (10-14) hits in the fourth, and, after Amber Neff drew a two-out walk, Absolam ended the threat again with a strikeout.
"I like to start out quickly and get ahead in the count," Absolam said. "I was able to do that today. I got ahead in the count and was able to keep them of balance."
A couple of errors led to St. John taking a 5-0 lead in the fifth before Paden City broke the shutout in the sixth. Anderson reached on an error and later scored on a single by Neff.
Neff didn't nearly equal the strikeouts by her mound counterpart, but she did hold the Fighting Irish (15-1) to just three hits.
"She did what she needed to do for the most part," Fox said. "I thought she threw a good game."
It was St. John's third straight OVAC softball championship.
"It is nice for Hannah to go out with another championship," Magistro said. "The great thing about this tournament is we were able to play a bunch of people. I thought it was a strong team effort. It was big for us. (Paden City) has a good team."
And a young team. The Wildcats start two freshmen and the rest juniors.