ST. CLAIRSVILLE - The host St. Clairsville Red Devils played arguably their best game of the season on Wednesday afternoon.
The top-seeded Martins Ferry Purple Riders turned in arguably one of their worst offensive games.
Add it all up and the result was an impressive 3-0 victory, sending St. C. to the district softball semifinal Friday afternoon against Harrison Central, which took down Union Local in the nightcap at the Market Street Fields.
ST. CLAIRSVILLE first baseman Mackenzie Otto applies a tag on Martins Ferry’s Katie Webb during Wednesday’s Division III?sectional softball game in St. Clairsville. The Red Devils prevailed, 3-0.
"I couldn't be prouder of my team," St. C. head coach Rachel Duncan said. "My team played their hearts out, and I am 100 percent satisfied with our performance."
St. C. (13-9) plated all three of its runs in the fifth inning and it was more than enough thanks to the pitching of junior Michaela Miller, who had Ferry hitters off balance all afternoon, en route to the win and 12 strikeouts.
"Michaela pitched the best game she pitched all season," Duncan said. "She did everything she needed to do. She executed her pitches, controlled their hitting because Martins Ferry definitely has a lot of good hitters."
The Purple Riders were limited to two singles, both of which came from freshman Mercedez McLeod. Ferry had just one runner get to third base all afternoon.
"We picked a bad day to play a bad game," Ferry head coach Paige Williams said. "Whether it was offensively or defensively, we just couldn't put it together, and St. Clairsville played an excellent game and (Miller) pitched very well. We weren't very disciplined at the plate. We swung at some balls and watched strikes."
Ferry pitcher Shaye DeLeonardis suffered the tough-luck loss in the circle. She was exceptional outside of the fifth when she gave up a lead-off double to Summer Gallentine.
After a walk and a sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third, Duncan opted for small ball. Pinch hitter Kaley Garloch dropped down a beautiful bunt on a squeeze play to drive in Gallentine and reached on the fielder's choice.
Senior Carly Gillespie reached on a fielder's choice without an out being recorded to load the bases. Antonia Hummel followed and promptly looped a single into center, scoring Ashley Baker and Summer Stephens.
"The bunting was huge today," Duncan said. "Our hitters really came through with that. Antonia's hit was huge. Our defense was stellar again today."
Miller went back to the circle and didn't bat an eyelash the rest of the way. Outside of a two-out walk in the fifth, she didn't allow a runner to reach. She was the beneficiary of a web gem produced by Gillespie at shortstop.
"This is unfamiliar territory, and I am not a big fan of it," Williams said, referencing the first-round exit. "Hindsight is 20-20 and there's a lot of that. We all need to learn from our mistakes, and hopefully, we'll have a better outcome next year."
St. Clairsville 000 030 0 - 3 3 1
Martins Ferry 000 000 0 - 0 2 1
St. C.-Miller wp (12K, 3W) and Hummel. Hummel S, 2rbi; Gallentine D
MF-DeLeonardis lp (7K, 1W) and Hotlosz. McLeod D, S.
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