While the newly renovated softball field on North Market Street will not be formally re-opened until ceremonies on Saturday, the Lady Red Devils christened their new diamond with an impressive 8-0 win over visiting Martins Ferry Thursday afternoon.
The St. Clairsville Junior Sports Softball Field was a little soggy and snow capped the newly renovated dugouts, but that did not dampen the spirits of the players as they hammered out 11 hits in support of pitcher Sarah Slenski. The senior mound ace struck out six batters, allowed just three hits and three walks in a six-inning shutout.
"It is a good feeling, it has been a long time coming," St. Clairsville coach Rachel Duncan said of the home opener.
"We felt comfortable tonight," Duncan observed. "We had some timely hits that helped us out."
The Red Devils' hard-hitting catcher Kaci Rykowski, who transferred to St. Clairsville from Martins Ferry, and her performance against her former teammates was worthy of note from Duncan, "Kaci really came through for us tonight;She went 4 for 4 with 5 RBIs."
After a one-two-three first inning for the Lady Red Devils' defense, junior shortstop Jesse Machovina led off the bottom of the first inning with a single. Brianna 'Beans' Hummel moved her to second with a sac bunt. Her sister Tashia Hummel and Lauren Figura both singled to load the bases when Rykowski sent a line drive into the left field that got past the fielder to the fence earning her a trip to third that appeared in the scorebook as a double with an error which tallied three runs batted in.
ST. Clairsville's Jesse Machovina gets down and gets dirty as she slides head first under the tag and dislodges the ball from the glove of Martins Ferry third baseman Morgan Stalder. Additional images may be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
"Our fielding certainly wasn't helping us," said Purple Riders coach Paige Williams after a post-game talk with her team about improving on defense.
Martins Ferry had little success in the other half of the innings plating runs as it stranded seven base runners . "Offensively, we couldn't manufacture anything today," Williams added. "We put the ball in play, but we either hit it right at them or they made the plays."
Beth Hotlosz had a single and Taylor Campbell a pair of singles to help her own cause as she got the start on the mound for the Purple Riders. Campbell struck out 4 and allowed no walks giving up 6 hits in three innings of work while Cirstie Delguzzo struck out 5, allowed 5 hits and issued no free passes in relief.
Machovina and Tashia each had a RBI, Brianna Hummel laid down two sacrifice bunts and earned a run batted in as the Red Devils added one run in the third, fourth and fifth innings and then plated a pair in the sixth to wrap up their scoring.
Martins Ferry will travel to Brooke tonight.
On Saturday, at approximately 11:30 a.m., dedication ceremonies at the Red Devils' softball field will be held. After the ceremony, the Lady Red Devils are slated to take on the Cambridge Lady Bobcats in doubleheader, which is scheduled to begin at noon.
Pirates' Chairman Robert Nutting, former player and current television analyst Kent Tekulve and the Pirate Parrot will be on hand for the event, which according to Tom Morrison, who submitted the grant request to the Pirates, may go on rain or shine because of the schedule demands for the aforementioned Pirates' dignitaries.
Martins Ferry 000 000 0 - 0 3 5
St. Clairsville 301 112 X 8-11-3
BATTERIES: Campbell, Delguzzo (4) and Bandy. Slenski and Rykowski
Palmer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org