STEUBENVILLE - Tuesday at Steve Zamana Softball Field, Steubenville Central senior pitcher Paige Creamer and Harrison Central freshman pitcher Katie Ellzy went head-to-head in a matchup of two of the area's best hurlers.
Ultimately, experience prevailed over youth as the senior out-dueled the freshman en route to a 2-0 Crusaders' victory.
Creamer was nearly flawless in the circle for the Crusaders, giving up three hits while striking out eight and walking one in seven innings to pick up the win.
SAFE AT HOME — Steubenville Central’s Sara Moziejko slides safely in front of Harrison Central catcher Emily Dodds for the Crusaders second run in their 2-0 victory over the Huskies Tuesday at Steve Zamana Softball Field.
-- Fred Younce
"That's a good hitting team, but she hit her spots well," Central head coach Jim DiCarlo said of Creamer. "We mixed speeds well enough to keep them off balance. I was really happy with our performance."
Ellzy was equally impressive in giving up just two hits with eight Ks of her own while walking three. Passed balls were the biggest issue for the freshman, as they proved to be key in the pivotal third frame.
"We had one bad inning and a couple wild pitches," said Harrison Central head coach Donnie Bethel. "That's going to happen. You live and die with a freshman. Once in a while we'll have to step up and make up for some of the things that happen.
"We didn't do that today."
Added DiCarlo of Ellzy, "She really pitched well. We probably didn't hit the ball as well as we should or could have, but give credit to her, she's a real nice pitcher - especially for a freshman. We knew they were a good team, they had won five in a row, but Paige was also very determined and had a great game today too."
Crusader freshman Ashlynne Daley led off the bottom of the third with a single. Rachel Sommers entered as pinch runner for Daley and proceeded to take second and third on passed balls. Sara Moziejko then reached on an infield single to put runners at first and third with no outs. As Moziejko attempted to steal second, Emily Dodds, the Huskies catcher, threw to third to try and catch Sommers off base. The throw sailed over the head of third baseman Kara Dunfee, allowing Sommers to score.
Moziejko advanced to third on a Sammi Giannamore groundout to Dunfee and ultimately scored when Micca Mirabella grounded out to short. Ellzy got the next batter to ground out to end the frame but the damage had been done.
"Ashlynne's been hitting the ball really well in all the games this year," said DiCarlo. "She's done a really good job, especially for a freshman. She kind of got us going and we got some good bunts down too and our slappers got good contact to produce another run. So everything contributed. It was the little things we do.
"Sometimes you don't have to hit it out of the park to score runs."
The Huskies biggest threat came in the top of the sixth after a Brooke Shultz walk and a Dunfee single put runners at first and second with one out. Creamer ended the threat by getting Ellzy to ground into a fielder's choice that put Shultz out at third and then induced Katie Parkinson to ground out.
She faced four batters in the seventh, striking out three, to close the book on the Crusaders win.
"It was a tough game," said Bethel. "We knew coming in here was going to be tough. We knew Paige throws the ball real well and it was going to be a real good test for us. I thought that we swung the bats real well today, but we couldn't get anything started early in an inning.
"This game was sandwiched around two real big Buckeye 8 games (Monday's 9-3 win over St. Clairsville and today's matchup with Bellaire). I was afraid we'd have a little bit of a letdown, but I thought we played relatively well.
"It was just today, just today, Central was just a little bit better than we we were."
Daley and Moziejko picked up the lone hits of the night for the Crusaders with Mirabella getting an RBI on the sacrifice.
Dunfee added a second single while Summer Gladman picked up a two-out, fifth inning double for the Huskies.
Both teams are in action today with Steubenville Central (5-2) hosting Bishop Donahue and Harrison Central traveling to Bellaire.
Steubenville Central 2, Harrison Central 0
Harrison Central 000 000 0 - 0 3 2
Steubenville Central 002 000 x - 2 2 2
HARRISON CENTRAL (5-3): Ellzy (LP, 8K, 3BB) and Dodds. Dunfee 2S; Gladman D.
STEUBENVILLE CENTRAL (5-2): Creamer (WP, 8K, 1BB) and Clark. Daley S; Moziejko S, Mirabella RBI.