ST. CLAIRSVILLE - There was little margin for error during Thursday's two Division III Sectional co-final softball games at St. Clairsville's Junior Sports Complex.
In the opener, Steubenville Catholic Central held off a late St. Clairsville rally for a 4-3 triumph. Martins Ferry captured Thursday's nightcap, pinning a 3-0 setback on Harrison Central.
Both Catholic Central and Martins Ferry advance to next week's district play at Cambridge's City Park. Coach Jim DiCarlo's Crusaders will vie Thursday while the Purple Riders see action on Wednesday.
GOOD AFTERNOON — Catholic Central senior Paige Creamer set a school record with 47 career wins in Thursday’s 4-3 win over St. Clairsville.
-- Rich Gibson
Not surprisingly, DiCarlo's team received another mainstay mound outing from veteran Paige Creamer who allowed only three singles over the distance.
"That's a school record 47 (pitching) wins for Paige. It couldn't happen to a more deserving young lady," DiCarlo beamed. "I thought her location was excellent."
Creamer recorded five strikeouts and three walks. She also aided her cause at the plate, collecting two hits and knocking in three teammates.
"We pleased to be moving on," DiCarlo added. "That's a result of hard work and dedication put forth by our girls."
Central struck early Thursday when second baseman Allee Vandeborne reached on an error, advanced on a wild pitch, and scored on a Creamer base rap.
Left fielder Maddy Gulan worked a one-out walk in the third. After catcher Taylor Clark singled, St. Clairsville sophomore pitcher Lauren Figura recorded a second out.
But designated player Kayla Lloyd legged out an infield hit, allowing Gulan to score for a 2-0 lighting.
It became 3-0 in the fourth. First baseman Tori Knight drew a free pass, moved up a base on Micca Mirabella's sacrifice bunt, and scored on Creamer's grounder.
The Red Devils mustered a fifth inning tally without the benefit of a hit, but Central retaliated to score what proved the game-winner in the Crusader sixth.
Mirabella was safe at first on an error and sacrificed to second by Vandeborne. That brought up Creamer whose infield hit scored Mirabella for a 4-1 count.
"As it turns out, that fourth run really came in handy," DiCarlo offered. "We helped St. C. out a little in the seventh inning but Paige was not phased at all. She finished strong."
With two Red Devils on base, a throwing error sent both runners home. Creamer, however, responded with a game-ending strikeout.
Martins Ferry twice fell to Harrison Central in regular season play. The Purple Riders, though, saved their best for last Thursday.
In a splendid pitchers' dual, Ferry veteran Cirstie DelGuzzo got the better of Lady Huskies' freshman ace Katie Ellzy.
"Give Ferry credit. They brought their 'A' game," advised Harrison skipper Donnie Bethel. "Today, they were a little better than us."
Thursday's loss capped a 16-9 campaign for Harrison which loses three starters in addition to the injured Madison Richards.
"It's a little disappointing because I felt we were good enough to be moving on," added Bethel. "DelGuzzo was solid and I expected nothing less. Katie was also outstanding. We all knew one good team was going to lose today. Unfortunately, it turned out to be us."
DelGuzzo permitted three, two-out singles and issued one walk for Harrison's only baserunners of the day. She finished with eight strikeouts and one walk. Ellzy compiled nine strikeouts and did not walk a batter.
Ferry's pitcher led off the game with a triple and came home when second baseman Addie Suriano legged out an infield hit.
The Purple's number nine hitter, Krissy Hotlosz singled leading off the third and came all the way around to score when DelGuzzo's potential fielder's choice ground ball was thrown away. Suriano followed with another ground ball and DelGuzzo scored for a 3-0 reading.
Harrison was limited to singles off the bats of Brooke Shultz, Kara Dunfee and Summer Gladman.
Catholic Central 4, St. Clairsville 3
St. Clairsville 000 001 2 - 3 3 3
Catholic Central 101 101 x - 4 6 4
ST. CLAIRSVILLE: Figura (LP, 3K, 4BB) and Rykowski; Machovina 2S.
CATHOLIC CENTRAL: Creamer (WP, 5K, 3BB) and Clark; Creamer 2S, 3rbi; Lloyd 2S, rbi.
Martins Ferry 3, Harrison Central 0
Martins Ferry 102 000 0 - 3 4 0
Harrison Central 000 000 0 - 0 3 2
MARTINS FERRY: DelGuzzo (WP, 8K, 1BB) and K. Hotlosz; DelGuzzo T; Suriano S, 2rbi.
HARRISON CENTRAL: Ellzy (LP, 9K, 0BB) and Dodds; Dunfee S; Gladman S; Shultz S.