RAYLAND - Friday's girls' softball game between Harrison Central (Div. III) and Buckeye Local (Div. II) was nothing more than a tuneup for the Buckeye 8 rivals respective sectional tournaments.
It also served as the rubber game of a three-game series, with each team claiming home-field victories.
However, after eight innings of solid pitching and defensive play, nothing was resolved, and the two head coaches agreed to stop play in the scoreless contest played on the Panthers' diamond.
"All we wanted to do was get some live-game work in," Buckeye Local first-year head coach Joe Soos said. "If we hadn't played today, we would've been off for over a week before our sectional game. We didn't want that."
Neither did Harrison Central's veteran skipper Donnie Bethel.
"That was the whole purpose of this game was to get both of us prepared for our sectional tournaments," he said. "We're cross-county rivals, but we're also hoping the best for each other the best in the tournament.
Harrison Central 0, Buckeye Local 0
Harrison Central 000 000 00 - 0 3 0
Buckeye Local 000 000 00 - 0 2 2
HARRISON CENTRAL (15-8-1): Ellzy (8K, 1BB) and Dodds; Shultz S; Caldwell S; Gladman S.
BUCKEYE LOCAL (18-6-1): Starcher (3K, 0BB), Primovic (5, 2K, 0BB) and Nest, Faulkner (5); Marelli S; DeCesare S.
"When we play each other, we want to win badly, like each team did today. But when we're not playing them, we're fans. I'm a fan of Buckeye Local's team right now. They have a very good team and I wish them the best."
With both coaches wanting their team to get some work, it was the pitchers and fielders that got the majority of the workload. Three hurlers - the Huskies' Katie Ellzy and the Panthers' duo of Ivy Starcher and Angela Primovic - combined to allow just five hits.
Ellzy faced just two batters over the minimum, while Starcher and Primovic faced three over the minimum.
Starcher, a promising sophomore, was poison to the Huskies' bats through four perfect innings. She struck out three and threw 48 pitches (36 strikes). Only two balls went to the outfield and she didn't go to three balls on any batter. Nine of her 12 first pitches were for a strike.
"Ivy pitched really well and Angela did as well," Soos allowed. "Even though Ivy was perfect for four innings, it was pre-determined that that was all she would pitch today."
Neither team could get a runner past second base as Harrison Central had three reach second and Buckeye Local two.
Ellzy fanned eight and walked a batter. Her effort drew rave reviews from Soos.
"If she's not the best pitcher in the Ohio Valley, she's right up there," he said. "She's the best we've seen."
The Huskies (15-8-1) venture into Division III sectional tournament action Tuesday at the St. Clairsville Jr. Sports Complex against Monroe Central at 5 p.m. The Panthers (18-6-1), meanwhile, travel to State Lake Park in Richmond to meet Edison in Division II action the same night, also at 5 p.m.