WEIRTON - The Magnolia softball team put nine on the board in the bottom of the third inning to erase an early deficit and went on to best Weir High, 11-7, Thursday on the Red Riders' diamond in the West Virginia Class AA Region 1 semifinal.
"Our girls came through that inning, found some gaps, put the ball in play hard and got some nice base hits in some pretty crucial situations," said Blue Eagles coach Mark Batton. "We struggled a little bit at the plate here and there, but, now, the name of the game is to survive and go on and we were fortunate enough to do that."
Marissa Bosley reached on an error and Dallas Mullett walked. Mallory Chapman's single score Bosley. One out later, Emily Blake's single scored Mullett and Abby Durig reached on the second error of the inning.
TOUGH AFTERNOON — Weir High third baseman Danica Rasicci makes a play during Thursday’s West Virginia Class AA?Regional semifinal contest with Magnolia on the Red Riders’ diamond. The Blue Eagles left with an 11-7 victory.
-- Mike Mathison
Jordan Babe then laced a double to score two. MaKenzie Dawson reached on a fielder's choice and Meghan Miller walked. Bosley's single scored two and Mullett blistered a double and that chased Weir High starter Micca DiBacco.
Chapman followed with a single to take a 5-1 deficit and turn it into a 10-5 advantage.
"They are a good hitting team," said Weir High coach Dave Hinerman. "They made some blunders in the first inning that we made in the third. And, when you do that against a good team it's going to cost you and it cost us.
"They hit the ball hard that inning."
Weir started the game by scoring five times in the top of the first inning.
Meikka Buffo reached on a bunt and Haley McLaughlin walked. Two outs later, one being a Danica Rasicci groundout for an RBI, Taylor Gianangeli and Ashlynn Drizake walked to load the sacks.
Emily Zatezalo stepped up and rifled a bases-clearing triple for a 4-0 lead. She then came in as Brianna Rosnick reached on an error.
"I really don't like spotting anybody five runs like that," said Batton. "Give our girls credit. They didn't get down. They didn't point fingers at each other. They came back focused and put that nice inning together.
"We knew Weir was a nice hitting softball team and it didn't surprise us when they put the ball in play. They did play a nice game. They played well, played good defense and hit the ball well."
McLaughlin had a one-out single in the second and Magnolia pitcher Tori Tharp struck out the next two. The Red Riders had runners on first and third with one out in the third and fifth innings, but Tharp exited both times unscathed.
"This is the third time we've played them and we've faced Tori each time, once she shut us out," said Hinerman. "I feel that Magnolia is the best team in the state of West Virginia. They have it all.
"We had the best practices in the past week that we've had all season. We did everything we wanted to today, except for the one bad inning, which has been our downfall all year. But, we still came back.
"I have to congratulate Mark and his team. They're the real deal."
Rasicci made the first out of the fifth inning when Bosley, Magnolia's catcher, made a diving grab of a pop up.
Bosley did it again one inning later, but it made a much bigger impact. She made a diving grab of an attempted bunt attempt with a runner on first and nobody out, and rifled it to first to get the runner for a double play.
Weir followed that with a Caitlyn Fodor walk, Rasicci reaching on a fielder's choice and Gianangeli plating them both with a double to the fence, making the score 10-7.
"She's tremendous. This is her fourth year catching," said Batton of Bosley. "She works extremely hard and those catches were big for us, including that double play. It was an unbelievable play out of a high school catcher."
Magnolia added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth. Tharp walked with one out and, one out later, scored on Durig's single.
"We'll be back," said Hinerman. "We're losing our three seniors (Gianangeli, Rasicci and Fodor), with some very good leadership, who are a very big part of our offense and defense. But we're here to try to build a program and I think we've come quite a long way this year.
"We have some good kids coming back and some good ones coming up. We're not going anywhere.
"We appreciate all the people who have backed us this year.
"I'm very, very proud of my kids."
Magnolia 11, Weir 7
Weir 500 002 0 - 7 9 2
Magnolia 109 001 x - 11 11 3
WEIR (9-14): DiBacco (LP, 2K, 2BB), Pratt (3, 1K, 1BB), Fuccy (6, 0K, 3BB), Pratt (6, 1K, 0BB) and Buffo; Buffo 2S; McLaughlin S; Gianangeli S, D, 2rbi; Drizake S; Zatezalo T, S, 3rbi; Karavanic S.
MAGNOLIA (28-3): Tharp (WP, 7K, 1BB) and Bosley; Bosley D, S, 2rbi; Mullett S, D, rbi; Chapman 2S, rbi; Tharp S; Blake 2S, 2rbi; Durig S, rbi; Babe D, 2rbi.