CONNORVILLE - Martins Ferry softball coach Paige Williams is thankful for one thing. Her Purple Riders don't have to play in West Virginia again unless they qualify for the OVAC Class 4A playoffs.
After back-to-back lopsided losses to Wheeling Central and Wheeling Park at the J.B. Chambers I-470 Complex, Martins Ferry (3-2) got back on the winning track Thursday night with a 3-2 victory over homestanding Buckeye Local (2-2).
"West Virginia has not treated us very well. That's for sure," Williams said with a smile. "That's definitely for sure."
BUCKEYE LOCAL second baseman Rachel Zeroski looks to make a relay throw to first base after forcing out Martins Ferry’s Brooklyn Monroe during Thursday’s game in Connorville. The Purple Riders won, 3-2. Additional images can be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
Things didn't look any better in Eastern Ohio as the Panthers grabbed a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third, thanks to a two-run single to left-center by Rachel Zeroski with one out. The hit plated Destiny Christian and Becky Zeroski, who had singled and reached on an error, respectively.
Martins Ferry didn't waste any time in bouncing right back as it tallied all of its runs in the top of the fourth.
With one out, Kady Webb singled sharply past third base. Morgan Stalder failed to move her teammate up with the sacrifice bunt, however, her slow roller to the hole at short resulted in an infield single. Kelsey Spielvogel coaxed a walk from Buckeye Local's Ivy Starcher to load the bases. Katie Sutherland followed with a single to right as Webb and Stalder touched the plate and Sutherland going to third. Brooklyn Monroe's comebacker was knocked down by Starcher, but her only play was to get the out at first as Sutherland crossed the dish with what would turn out to be the game-winning run.
"We shook up the batting order a little bit today," Williams explained. "It's still not how we want it, but it worked for a day.
"Katie has been struggling of late, but we know she can hit the ball and so does she," Williams added. "She swung the bat well today."
Buckeye Local head coach Joe Soos was left shaking his head.
"We're not hitting the ball like we are capable of," he admitted. "We're a lot better hitting team than what we've shown so far, but it's been a tough week.
"You've got to give Martins Ferry credit," Soos continued. "We scored a couple of runs to take the lead, but they bounced right back and took it from us."
No player in the game had an extra-base hit or more than one safety as Starcher and Martins Ferry's Shay DeLeonardis kept things under control.
Starcher yielded six hits while striking out four and walking a pair. DeLeonardis, meanwhile, gave up five hits, fanned six and didn't walk a batter.
"That's the best I've seen Shay pitch this year," Williams noted.
Things don't get any easier for the Panthers as they head to Wintersville today to meet Indian Creek, a team they defeated Wednesday night, 4-1. Martins Ferry welcomes Brooke for a Saturday doubleheader at noon.
Martins Ferry 3, Buckeye Local 2
Martins Ferry 000 300 0 - 3 6 2
Buckeye Local 002 000 0 - 2 5 4
MF-DeLeonardis wp (6K, 0W) and Hotlosz; Monroe rbi; Sutherland S, 2rbi
BL-Starcher lp (4K, 2W) and B. Zeroski; R. Zeroski S, 2rbi