WHEELING - For the second straight season, the Bellaire softball team reached the OVAC Class 3A title game.
However, it also came up short of its goal once again.
Top-seeded Steubenville Catholic scored four runs in the bottom of the first and never looked back en route to an 8-0 victory on Lisa's Field during at the OVAC Tom Bechtel Softball Championship Saturday morning.
While the Crusaders, who now own six conference titles, got seemingly big hit after big hit, Bellaire couldn't get untracked at the plate against sophomore hurler Alex McComb.
"We just didn't hit the ball," Bellaire coach Melissa Lahna said. "We played pretty well defensively, which is great, but to win games, we have to hit the ball. We've been up and down a lot."
The Big Reds posted just two innocent singles and had only four base runners for the entire game, none of whom moved further than first base.
"We put the ball in play, but we just couldn't get any timely hits," Lahna said. "We're a young team, so I think we'll be back (in this game) again next year. These girls play hard, work hard and they have a ton of heart."
Much of the Big Reds' struggles are a credit to McComb and Catholic's defense, which committed only one error.
"Bellaire didn't hit many balls with a ton of authority," Crusaders' coach Jim DiCarlo said. "We wanted to take away their bunt, and we felt if we could do that, we'd have a good chance of keeping their run production to a low total."
McComb showed in the top of the first that she was on her game, sitting the Big Reds (12-6) down in order.
Meanwhile, Steubenville Central (12-4) took advantage of some early control problems by Bellaire starting pitcher Daphne Clark.
She plunked senior lead-off hitter Micca Mirabella in the helmet and then issued back-to-back walks to load the bases.
Clark appeared she may escape the frame without any damage. She induced back-to-back fly outs to centerfielder Abbey Cusick.
However, first baseman Megan Lloyd roped a bases-clearing triple to the fence in left.
"We were (excited) at the start of the game, but one pitch hurt us," Lahna said. "But, that doesn't determine the game. We have to hit the ball and we didn't do that. When you don't hit, you don't win."
She came home when Maddy Metcalf came through with a single between shortstop and third.
"The timely hitting in the first inning was the key to the game," DiCarlo said. "Their pitcher had some command problems, so our kids were very patient and then to get two-out, timely hits is really important."
Those runs were more than enough for McComb, who finished the complete-game gem with seven strikeouts and a walk.
Catholic added four runs in the fourth. Senior slugger Maddy Gulan delivered the big hit with a two-run single. Ashlynne Daley also had a RBI single in the frame.
The Big Reds' two hits were a single apiece by senior Mackenzie Conroy and Mary Garloch.