Weather Can’t Stop Red Devils
ST CLAIRSVILLE – The weather has been an issue all season and the opening round of the Ohio Division III sectional softball tournament was no exception as two lengthy rain delays challenged the grounds crew and the patience of both players and fans as the Red Devils squeaked out a 2-1 victory against Monroe Central.
The final delay came at a critical juncture as St.Clairsville had loaded the bases and after a strikeout but the downpour suspended play with a 3-2 count on the Red Devils’ No. 8 batter, Kipra Rhodes, with the game tied at one run apiece.
Initially the umpires were pushing for the suspension to end the play for Saturday and asked the teams to return and resume the game Monday. After some discussion that included the lengthy trip from Woodsfield, several parents and coaches went to their homes and returned with leaf blowers.
The volunteers, coaches, players and grounds crew all chipped in to get the soggy infield back into playing condition. When play resumed, the next pitch decided the contest as the Seminoles pitcher threw inside for ball four, pushing the winning run across.
Monroe Central retired the side on a pair of infield pop outs, but the damage was done. The Red Devils had the momentum and the Noles went down in order sending St. Clairsville ahead to face Martins Ferry at 5 on Wednesday.
The Seminoles had been an improving team all season and wasted no time getting on the scoreboard. Leadoff hitter Brittany Hooper took a 2-2 count pitch into left-center for a double in the top of the first. Following a sacrifice bunt, Allison Kuhn notched an RBI single accounting for the Noles’ only run and their last hit of the contest.
Red Devils coach Rachel Duncan made the decision to pull her staring pitcher and put in junior Michaela Miller. Miller had a stellar performance, striking out nine batters in six innings of no-hit work.
St. Clairsville scored their first run in the fourth inning as Lauren Figura doubled and moved to third on a bunt from Summer Galantine, then came home to knot the contest.