RICHMOND - The Indian Creek softball team faced a much-improved Steubenville Big Red team Monday than the one it beat 20-2 earlier in the year.
Unfortunately for Big Red, Redskins pitcher Ashley Starr made sure the Steubenville improvement was seen entirely on the defensive side, as the senior hurler struck out 13, walked none and gave up just three hits in Creek's 7-0 Division II sectional tournament win at Jefferson Lake State Park.
"I give (Big Red) coach (Dave) Ziarko credit," said Indian Creek head coach Angie Penner. "He had his team ready to go today. They were mentally in the game. It took us a while to get our bats going.
GREETING AT HOME — Indian Creek’s Abby Orr connects for an RBI single as Big Red catcher Mytia Barker waits behind the plate during the Redskins’ 7-0 sectional win in Richmond Monday.
-- Fred Younce
"Ashley pitched a great game with 13 strikeouts. She kept them off balance, mixing speeds."
Added Ziarko of Starr's performance, "Ashley did a good job. She kept us off balance. We had a couple of girls who came in with a game plan and attacked. Toward the bottom of the order we just struggled keeping the bat on the ball. We fought and did the best we could."
The Redskins, who have been plagued with fielding miscues at times this season, stepped up defensively when Big Red was able to make contact, committing no errors in the game.
"I'm very pleased knowing we had no errors today," said Penner. "That's something we have struggled with and this is a great stepping stone going forward."
The first run of the game crossed in the game's opening frame.
Brey Mays led the bottom of the inning off with a double and Ashley Shimko immediately sent her home with a single.
After a pair of goose eggs in the second, the Redskins picked up three more in the third. Starr and Paige DeMattio had back-to-back singles and, with one out, Abby Orr and Alexis Monroe knocked them in with a run scoring single and double, respectively.
The fifth inning saw Indian Creek put the exclamation point on things with another trio of scores. Orr and Mallorie Sullivan picked up base knocks.
Mays drove in Orr with a single and then Shimko pushed Sullivan and Mays past with a single to make the score 7-0. Starr closed things out from there, facing seven batters in the final two innings, striking out four.
Mays had a big day at the plate for Creek with a single, double, triple, RBI and two runs scored, with Shimko adding a pair of singles and three RBIs to lead the charge.
Sierra Fields, Cassey Gentile, and Christina Archer each had a single to account for the three hits in Big Red's season-ending loss.
"The improvement has been great this season," said Ziarko. "In the game Saturday against Beaver Local, they came to play. Everybody played well. The entire roster. We came back today and brought the same intensity and just couldn't get the balls to fall. We couldn't get enough hits. They played well.
"Being who we are and where we've come from, they played well today."
Indian Creek advances to Thursday's Division II Sectional Final at Jefferson State Lake to take on the winner of the today's match up between Edison and Buckeye Local.
"We need to get ready to go for the Edison and Buckeye Local winner," said Penner. "They are two quality teams and hopefully we're up for the challenge."
Indian Creek 7, Big Red 0
Big Red 000 000 0 - 0 3 2
Indian Creek 103 030 x - 7 16 0
BIG RED: Perrino (LP, 0K, 0BB) and Barker. Fields s; Gentile s; Archer s.
INDIAN CREEK: Starr (WP, 13K, 0BB) and Orr. Mays s, d, t, rbi, 2r; Shimko 2s, 3rbi; Starr s, d, r; DeMattio 2s, r; Geanangel s; Orr 2s, rbi, 2r; Monroe s, d, rbi; Barz s, rbi; Sullivan s, r.