WHEELING - The conclusion of Thursday night's OVAC All-Star Softball Game also brought to an end the careers of several outstanding senior players from Eastern Ohio.
Two of them, St. Clairsville's Lauren Figura and St. John Central's Hannah Absalom ended their prep careers with fine performances, albeit in an 8-7 loss to West Virginia on Lisa's Field at the I-470 J.B. Chambers Complex.
Figura, the Red Devils' hitting machine, reached base all three times she went to the plate. She singled twice and smacked a two-run double to the fence in right-center with one out in the first inning that staked Ohio to a 2-0 lead.
St. Clairsville’s Lauren Figura enjoys a fun moment in the dugout.
"It was a very nice way to end my career in the Ohio Valley," Figura said, noting that she will take part in this weekend's district all-star game in Cambridge. "I did pretty good today. I can't complain."
Figura said she will major in radiology at West Virginia Northern.
Absalom, who has been a thorn in the sides of many coaches throughout the Ohio Valley in her stellar three-year career for the Irish, started inside the circle and struck out four in three innings. She gave up five hits and two runs, one of which was unearned.
Although she was a three-time all-state performer, college coaches haven't been knocking down the door at the Absalom residence, and her cell phone hasn't been ringing off the hook.
Why, I ask?
She has all the tools (bat, arm, speed, power, quickness) that it takes to be a college player. Some coach is going to be very lucky when she finally makes her college decision.
Three other local players figured in the outcome, those being Buckeye Local's Karlee Leonard, River's Gabby Goudy and Union Local's Cori Medley.
Leonard, a hard-hitting third baseman for Joe Soos' Lady Panthers, was never known to be much of a bunter. She fouled off the first pitch trying to sacrifice in her seventh-inning at-bat before lining the next offering from Brooke's Kaylee Kuchinski to the fence in right-center for an RBI triple.
The hit sent Goudy, who had beat out a bunt single earlier in the inning that drove in a run, racing all the way around from first with the go-ahead run (sixth) at that point. The run also took herself off the hook as the potential losing pitcher at that time as she yielded three runs in the fourth, all of which were unearned after her throwing error.
Medley, who didn't play softball her freshman season, slugged a triple down the rightfield line with two outs in the third in her only at-bat. She would not get any further.
Also participating were Martins Ferry's Morgan Stalder and Harrison Central's Kara Dunfee. St. John Central's Jerry Magistro was a member of the Ohio coaching staff.
Umpires Donate Time
Giving up some free time Thursday night were four of the Ohio Valley's best softball umpires. Jon Hamm worked the plate, while Greg Sanders was at first and Mike Rine at second. Working third was Weirton's Ralph Cox who was honored prior to the game for 18 years of service. The game was his last as he retired.
Year of the Pitcher!
To say 2014 was the Year of the Pitcher in the Ohio Valley would be a very accurate statement. All five of the OVAC Players of the Year were pitchers, and dominant ones at that.
The honorees were Absalom (Class A); Wheeling Central's Madison Basinger (Class 2A); Magnolia's Mallory Chapman (Class 3A); Harrison Central's Katie Ellzy (Class 4A); and Indian Creek's Paige Geanangel (Class 5A).
Pepsi Cola Scholarships
Three players who played their home games at the I-470 J.B. Chambers Complex this past season were presented with scholarships They were: Bishop Donahue's Abby Randolph ($500); Basinger ($800); and Wheeling Park's Kelsi Johnson ($1,200).