RICHMOND - Games can change on just one pitch.
Wednesday, two pitches helped to turn the tide in favor of Steubenville, and its softball team did not look back en route to an 8-0 victory against Buckeye Local in an Ohio Division II Eastern District sectional semifinal at Jefferson Lake State Park.
"I'm feeling a lot better now," Big Red (21-7) coach Gus DiMarzio said. "I was a nervous wreck. I admit it. They are a good team.
"We were up by six runs, but (Kierstyn) Czuchran and (Lauren) Swiger are real-good hitters. They have good hitters on their team. With one swing of the bat it could have been 6-4.''
Big Red will play in the sectional final at 5:30 p.m. Friday. Big Red will play either Edison or Indian Creek in the title tilt. The Wildcats and Redskins are scheduled to play at 5:30 p.m. today in the other tournament semifinal.
"I look out there at the scoreboard and I see zero for us," Buckeye Local (14-7) coach Joe Soos said. "A team has never won scoring zero. Big Red got some big hits. They scored some runs. That is why they came out on top. That is why they are advancing."
The two pitches in question came in the bottom of the fourth inning.
With two outs, Casey Gentile doubled off of the fence in left field and was lifted for a courtesy runner. The runner was awarded third base after the umpire called an illegal pitch on Buckeye Local's Ivy Starcher, and Big Red scored its second run of the game when Starcher was called for her second illegal pitch.
"I think the game turned when it was 1-0 and the umpire called two illegal pitches," Soos said. "He handed them a run.
"I am not taking anything away from Steubenville. They deserved to win the game. She has been called for an illegal pitch a few times. The funny thing is she has only been called for it when there have been runners on base. That's the way it goes."
Big Red broke the game open in the fifth by scoring four more runs to build a 6-0 advantage.
"It is part of the game," DiMarzio said about the illegal-pitch calls. "She battled her butt off. She is a senior. This is her last game. She is a great pitcher. She fought the whole time.
"Did those two calls changed the game? I don't know. I don't know if it changed how she pitched, but she still fought. It was tough out there for her. That's tough on a young lady."
Hayley Stamps picked up a victory for Big Red as she struck out four and walked two.
Offensively, Big Red delivered six hits, four of which went for extra-bases including two that sailed over the fence in left field for home runs.
Individually, Mytia Barker recorded a two-run home run, Rhiannon Petrisko produced a solo home run and Na Banks belted a run-scoring and a run-scoring double.
Offensively for the Panthers, Becky Zeroski belted a double.