SHADYSIDE - Something had to give Monday afternoon at the Mead Township Complex as a 'Meetin' of the Unbeatens' unfolded.
When the dust, and there was a lot of it flying around in the swirling winds, had finally settled, St. John Central improved to 8-0 with a hard-earned, 3-1, victory over Division IV sectional rival Shadyside in softball action.
Junior Hanna Absalom fired a 1-hit gem and the Irish scored twice in the fourth and once in the sixth to take a 3-0 advantage before the Tigers (3-1) tallied late.
T-L Photo/KIM NORTH
ST. JOHN Central’s Kristen Russell slides safely into third with a stolen base Monday afternoon as Shadyside shortstop Kenzie Fielding makes a diving stop of the throw.
"Everyone on this team contributed today in one way or another," veteran St. John Central head coach Jerry Magistro stressed. "Everyone. It was a total team effort."
Absalom struck out a dozen and walked only one - the very first hitter she faced - in raising her personal record to 7-0. The lone Tigers' run was the first earned run the righthander had allowed this season in 79 innings of work.
"Hanna was Hanna again today," allowed Magistro. "When she's on like she was today, she's pretty tough to hit."
Shadyside head coach Jillian Ongley agreed.
"We just couldn't get her timed up," she admitted. "That's been a problem of ours in the early going, but today we just couldn't get to her."
Absalom walked Alicia Gulley to start the bottom of the first and she stole second. However, she would get no further as the Irish ace mowed down the side on strikes.
That would start a streak of 15 straight Lady Tigers that were retired - 10 on Ks - until Sarah Dierkes ripped a clean double down the leftfield line to start the bottom of the sixth. She would eventually cross the plate on a Gulley groundout.
St. John Central left the bases loaded in the second against Shadyside ace Megan Heagney, who wiggled out of the jam by striking out a pair of batters with the bases juiced.
However, she walked Caitlin Sliva to open the fourth. A wild pitch moved Sliva to second and she raced to third on a comebacker to the mound. Kristen Russell's smash to the right side of the infield found a hole as Sliva touched the plate. Amber LaMotte drew a base-on-balls, and both executed a double steal. A groundout by Cheyenne Harris scored Russell to make it 2-0.
Kaydie Coppa doubled to left to start the fifth and went to third on a wild pitch by Heagney, who didn't have her best control. Morgan DeLuca then lined a 1-out single to left to make it 3-0.
"There were two good pitchers out there today," added Magistro, "but I thought we made more contact than they did. Some of our better hits were caught because they got held up in the wind. We had some nice shots, ran the bases pretty well and executed on our bunts."
Each team turned in a web gem as Russell, the Irish shortstop, left her feet to snag a soft liner off the bat of Angelina McKeever in the fourth. The Tigers' Shelby Benedetta ran down a drive to right-center by Sliva in the fifth.
Coppa, Absalom and Sliva all doubled for SJC.
Heagney struck out half-a-dozen and walked four. She yielded five hits.
"Megan got a little frustrated and down on herself there at one point," said Ongley, "but she'll come back tomorrow and get after it again."
St. John Central 000 210 0 - 3 5 0
Shadyside 000 001 0 - 1 1 2
Batteries: Absalom and DeLuca. Heagney and Dunn
North can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org