Ashley Linder Strikes Out Six as Wheeling Park Edges Rival John Marshall, 2-1
Linder strikes out six for Patriots
GLEN DALE — There is a sense of urgency with both the Wheeling Park and John Marshall softball programs.
The Patriots and Monarchs entered the week on the outside looking in for an OVAC playoff berth. The two rivals were scheduled to play Monday but Mother Nature had other ideas.
Both teams had games already scheduled for Tuesday. However, the Patriots and Monarchs agreed to meet after those games at John Marshall High School to make up the postponed affair.
Park started the day, dropping a 9-8 decision to Martins Ferry. JM, meanwhile, pocketed a 7-3 triumph at St. Clairsville.
Pat Durkin’s Patriots salvaged the day, and possibly a playoff berth, by slipping past the Monarchs in a well-played 2-1 verdict.
Ashley Linder was nothing short of brilliant in the circle for Park. She scattered six hits, fanned a like amount while not issuing a walk.
“That is as good a game as Ashley has pitched all year,” Durkin said. “She was hitting her spots and made only one mistake.”
That mistake was a sixth-inning home run by Monarch catcher Joey Mangino.
The win was the eighth against nine losses for the Patriots. They visit Morgantown today in another key 5A contest. The OVAC cutoff date is Saturday.
The loss spoiled a sharp pitching effort from JM’s Sophia Adkins. The savvy freshman yielded six hits and walked four. She did not fan a Patriot.
The two teams battled on scoreless terms for the first four innings.
JM failed to take advantage of a golden scoring opportunity in the opening frame. Standout third baseman Lydia Knutsen opened with a double before a Patriots error placed Monarchs on second and third with no outs.
Linder was up to the task, however, coaxing two groundball outs to go with a strikeout to get out of the inning unscathed.
Park broke through with a run in the fifth courtesy of a two-out RBI single from junior ace Kieran Johnson.
The Patriots made it a 2-0 issue in the sixth on an Emily Ashton home run.
JM made it to a one-run contest on Mangino’s blast in the home-half of the frame. Monarch all-stater Abby Blake opened the seventh with a single but Linder retired the next three batters to seal the win.
“We were like two different teams (Tuesday). We went through the motions against Martins Ferry,” Durkin said. “(Against JM) we looked much better. We played nice defense.
“We saved the day with this win. The girls showed a lot of character. They bounced back really well. We beat a real good team in John Marshall. They have some real nice hitters.”
The loss dropped JM to 13-10 on the campaign. The Monarchs, who have won the last seven OVAC 5A crowns, are idle today before traveling to Parkersburg Thursday.
“Sophia pitched a real nice game for us. Linder was just a tad better,” JM coach Ed West said. “We just didn’t hit well enough. We didn’t the key hit when we needed it.
“The first inning really hurt. We had a great chance to score with runners on second and third and no outs. That was a turning point. If we could have taken the lead, you don’t know how things play out.”
Blake delivered three of the six Monarch hits.
John Marshall 7
St. Clairsville 3
ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Lydia Knutsen ripped a double and a single for two RBI to lead John Marshall past St. Clairsville.
Mack Hall also delivered two hits and a RBI, while Anna Blake and Taylor Gray supplied a hit and a RBI.
Joey Mangino added a RBI.