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Purple Power: Ferry hits a trio of two-run homers to rally past Monroe for 3A title

WHEELING — Martins Ferry has shown its power at the plate on numerous occasions this spring. Friday night the Purple Riders waited until late in their Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Tom Bechtel Class 3A Championship contest with Monroe Central before flexing their muscles.

Trailing 5-4 entering the home half of the sixth inning, top-seeded Martins Ferry connected for three two-run homers in scoring eight times for a 12-5 triumph over the stunned Seminoles (11-10) on wind-swept and chill-filled Ben’s Field at the J.B. Chambers I-470 Sports Complex.

With the come-from-behind win, the Purple Riders improved to 22-4 and claimed the program’s fourth OVAC softball banner. The others came in 2000, 2005 and 2011.

“I knew we could hit the ball, and we did, but their outfield played outstanding,” Martins Ferry head coach Jerry Magistro said. “They made some really good catches, but I thought it was just a matter of time before we broke loose.”

And no better time than when you’re behind and only have six outs remaining.

Ella McFarland started the game-winning rally with an infield single. Three pitches later, No. 8 hitter Ava Doyle put Martins Ferry ahead to stay at 6-5 with a two-run shot to left-center. It was her third roundtripper of the season.

“As soon as I saw the ball leave the pitcher’s hand I knew it was going to be the pitch to hit.When it left the bat I knew it was going over the fence,” Doyle said. “I’ve never experienced anything like this. it’s awesome.”

Kelsi Gillespie, the winning pitcher in Tuesday’s semifinal over Linsly, drew a walk and Hunter Pollock sent an 0-1 offering from Liz Roderick well into the night to deep left. Danielle Lude reached on an infield single that ricocheted off the mask of Seminoles’ third baseman Brookelynn Grubb before Maria Clark rocketed a laser well over the fence in left to make it 10-5. Shelby Thomas and Ella McFarland capped the outburst with run-scoring groundouts.

“Ava got it going and that is how we are capable of hitting,” Magistro noted. “I just wish we would do it every inning instead of just one, but what are you going to do?”

The three home runs give Martins Ferry 28 as a team this season. Ten of the 13 team members have at least one and Clark leads with seven, one more than Pollock.

After going down in order in the top of the first, Monroe Central made the most of its second at-bat. The third seeds collected two of their six hits and took advantage of three Martins Ferry errors in tallying five times. Cheyenne Baker and Kynzi Bishop picked up RBIs on bunts before Trista Morris lined a double to the gap in left-center that plated two teammates. A fifth run crossed on an error.

“Monroe Central fought hard. They took that 5-0 lead, but I give my kids credit. They never gave up,” Magistro, who captured his 11th OVAC title — 10 coming in Class A at St. John Central from 1999-2014, said.

Lauren McFarland shrugged off the five-run second and didn’t allow another run. She struck out six, walked a pair and threw 107 pitches, with 76 being strikes. She also drove in three runs with two singles.

“Lauren settled down after that one inning and pitched well,” Magistro said of his junior hurler. “She shut them down after that and we made some big plays behind her, especially the one that Danielle (Lude) made there to start the seventh. That was a big-time play.” He was referring to a grounder in the hole at short that Lude backhanded and threw the runner out by a step.

“We had a really good shot at winning this game against a really good ball club. We played them twice earlier in the year and we played hard in both of those games,” Monroe Central head coach Michael Brock said of 10-5 and 4-0 setbacks. “My pitcher got a little tired there but I tried to let her work through it because she’s a senior.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to take from this game the fact that we can compete with the good teams. Martins Ferry is the premier team in the Ohio Valley from what I’ve seen this year,” Brock added. “We’re still a young team that is learning. Other than that one inning that got away from us, we played very tough.

“We’re going home healthy but broken hearted.”

The Purple Riders are one win away from matching the 2005 team with 23 victories. They host Edison Wednesday for the Buckeye 8 title at 5 p.m.

Clark finished with two singles in addition to her bomb. Pollock had a double to go with her homer. Taylor Bell, Lude and Ella McFarland all had multiple singles.

“This is a very exciting one because we were down 5-0,” Magistro said. “Every OVAC title is sweet. This is sweet because it’s my first at Martins Ferry. I’m happy for the team. This was a team win.”

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