BELLAIRE - Hitting is said to be contagious.
St. John softball coach Jerry Magistro is wishing his Irish would come down with some kind of ailment. St. John could muster but three harmless singles off of Steubenville freshman Hayley Stamps in dropping a 1-0 decision on Amanda's Field Monday night.
"We're hitting the ball, but we're either hitting it right at them (the fielders) or the opposition makes a web gem," Magistro said. "We need to get some clutch hits when we get runners on.
"It's not like we're striking out a lot. If you're hitting it and they're making the plays, there's not much you can do about that."
Big Red (18-6) didn't knock the cover off the ball either. They managed just seven hits - six singles and a double - off Irish ace Hannah Absalom, who finished with 15 strikeouts.
However, they were able to utilize their speed on the basepaths in manufacturing a run in the top of the sixth.
Sierra Fields singled leading off. She promptly swiped second and third, and with two outs, freshman Rhiannon Petrisko smacked a single to center that easily scored the speedy Fields with the game's lone run.
"Stolen bases hurt us," Magistro said. "They stole too many bases."
The matchup of OVAC Tom Bechtel Softball Tournament champions lived up to its billing and hype as Stamps and Abasalom traded goose eggs for the first five frames.
While not overpowering, Stamps rebounded from a tough outing against the Irish earlier this season to hurl a gem. She struck out only three batters and walked one. She yielded three hits - all singles -and never let an Irish baserunner get past first base. She needed only 75 pitches (50 strikes) in the 70-minute affair.
"This was a great game between two great teams with outstanding pitchers," Steubenville coach Gus DiMarzio said. "I'm pretty proud of my pitcher right now. They roughed her up pretty good in our first meeting, but she said she wanted the ball, so I gave it to her.
"She's a battler, and so is our team. We knew we were going to have to fight and scratch for runs against Hannah."
Freshman Gilli Johnson had two of St. John Central's three hits. Taylor Lowe had the other.
The loss kicked off a huge week for St. John Central, which visits Old Washington today to play Buckeye Trail. Wednesday they visit Steubenville Catholic, another OVAC titlist.