St. John ousted by Madonna in 1A

ELM GROVE — Maddie Daugherty threw a five-hitter and Madonna took advantage of a plethora of St. John miscues in the field Monday afternoon in besting the Irish 7-1 in a 1A semifinal of the Tom Bechtel OVAC Softball Championships.

The four-time defending champion Blue Dons will return to the J.B. Chambers Youth Sports Complex on Saturday to battle Frontier, a 3-2 winner against Conotton Valley in the nightcap on Ben’s Field.

“I love it,” exclaimed Madonna head coach Chris Conti. “I’m excited for the girls. They’re ecstatic. A lot of teams counted us out this year. But guess what? They’re here to play and to have fun. That’s exactly what they’re doing.”

The Blue Dons only mustered two hits off the Irish pitching tandem of Kyla Kull and Jayden Lowe under clear, blue skies, but mistakes of some type by St. John led to all of their runs.

“It just wasn’t a good time to play like this,” veteran Irish head coach Jerry Magistro lamented. “But, you know, that’s part of the game. You have to be able to not have errors. We left a lot of people on base and you can’t do that in a game like this and against a team like this.

“It just seemed like nothing went right for us from the beginning on.”

Kull recorded all five of her strikeouts in the first two innings. But the Blue Dons went up 2-0 thanks to a four-base error in the second.

Gia Riccadonna led off the inning with a bunt single. Two batters later, Mikayla Sole hit a shot to the left side of the infield. A throw to first went high and, before the play was over, she ended up safe at home.

Madonna went up 3-0 an inning later when pinch runner Morgan Owens scored on a passed ball — the second time she moved up on a passed ball during the frame.

Conti praised his team for taking advantage of the opportunities presented to them and staying aware of the various situations.

“They played as a team,” he said. “There’s no ‘I’ in team. I’ve stressed that all year.

“We had baserunners on and they had a couple of passed balls. We were aggressive on the bases. They just played together, and Maddie played a great game.”

While Madonna was slowly, but surely, building a lead, Daugherty was doing the same with the Irish lineup. She kept them off the scoreboard until the seventh and finished with five Ks and two walks.

St. John had runners at third and second in the first and fourth innings with two out, but were unable to capitalize.

Madonna, meanwhile, added a run in the sixth to go up 5-0. Then, triggered by a two-base error to begin the frame, tacked on two more in the seventh.

Danniele Yaegel and Kasi Gillespie reached to start the seventh for the Irish, with Yaegel, who had three hits, later scoring.

“They played hard right until the last out,” Magistro stressed. “The kids didn’t want to lose.

“I can’t say enough about this group. I have to give credit for making the top four. They’ve always made it.”

Madonna, meanwhile, is now in the top two again.

“They all get along together and they all support each other,” Conti said. “That’s what I love about this team.”