Tiger by the tail

NEW PHILADELPHIA – Shadyside’s struggles in Division IV Eastern District softball tournament games continued here Tuesday night.

For the second time in three seasons, the Lady Tigers (17-8) haven’t been able to make it past that bump in the road known as the semifinals.

Battle-tested Strasburg took advantage of two key Shadyside errors en route to a 2-0 victory at the overcast Art Teynor Complex.

With the win, the Tuscarawas County Tigers (25-5) return to the complex on the campus of Tuscarawas Central Catholic High School Thursday to meet St. John Central (25-3) for the Region 15 Eastern District title at 5 p.m.

“We hung with them for awhile,” Shadyside head coach Jillian Ongley said following the tough loss. “A couple little mistakes by us in the field and the fact that we’d get baserunners on, but couldn’t move them around.

“I just told the girls that we had three great seniors. Leaders the entire four years they’ve been here,” she said of Alicia Gulley, Saminda Francis and Hayley Holenka. “The rest of our team is freshmen and sophomores. So, we’re looking forward to next season, but the girls played their hearts out today.”

Hooked up in a scoreless pitcher’s duel after 3 innings, Strasburg’s Karly DiBacco lined a two-out triple to the fence in left. However, when the relay throw was botched, veteran Strasburg head coach Bud Weisgarber sent DiBacco without hesitation. She scored as the throw was a little late and way off the mark.

The second mistake came in the bottom of the sixth when Caitlin Gessner, Strasburg’s No. 9 hitter, reached on a one-out error. She went to second on a sacrifice bunt and stole third. The throw to third sailed into left field as Gessner got up and sprinted home to make it 2-0.

“Other than those two mistakes, we played with one of the best teams in the state,” Ongley added. “These girls have nothing to be ashamed of.”

The Belmont County Tigers had plenty of opportunities against Strasburg’s Kristina LaRocca, despite her recording 14 strikeouts. Although limited to just two singles, Shadyside took advantage of two errors and a pair of walks, but stranded all six runners. Only one, Sarah Dierkes in the fifth with one out, reached third.

“We just couldn’t get that big hit,” Ongley noted.

Sophomore Megan Heagney held her own against the perennial state power, striking out nine and not walking a batter. She surrendered just two hits and threw a mere 61 pitches, 46 of which were strikes.

“Megan pitched well,” Ongley continued. “She has pitched well all year for us. I’m glad she’ll be back for two more years.”

Shadyside 000 000 0 – 0 2 3

Strasburg 000 101 x – 2 2 2

Batteries: Heagney and Dunn. LaRocca and Ray

North can be reached at knorth@timesleader-online.com