STEUBENVILLE - Micca Mirabella delivered a bases-loaded single in the bottom of the seventh inning to score Ashlynne Daley with the game-winning run as the Catholic Central softball team completed its seven-run rally to defeat local rival Madonna, 10-9, Tuesday at the Steve Zamana Softball Field.
"I give all of the credit to Madonna," Catholic Central (8-1) head coach Jim DiCarlo said. "They played a wonderful game. They hit the ball well. They made some good plays in the field. Their pitcher threw well.
"I also want to give credit to our kids. They did not quit. I want to give them credit for battling back."
BACK TO THE PITCHER — Steubenville Central’s Megan Lloyd catches a putout at first base on a throw from pitcher Alex McComb during Tuesday’s 10-9 victory over Weir High.
-- Mike Mathison
TUESDAY ACTION — Weirton Madonna second baseman Megan Boniti tosses the ball to pitcher Amanda Pulice after catching a pop-up in Tuesday’s 10-9 loss to Steubenville Central.
-- Mike Mathion
Catholic Central scored the final seven runs after trailing 9-3 heading into the bottom of the fourth inning.
"It was a very good game, though I am disappointed with the loss," Madonna (3-6) head coach Chris Conti said. "Jimmy is a great coach. I always enjoy playing against him. The Catholic Central girls have a great program.
"We played very well. In fact, I thought we played excellent. We just didn't hold it. If we play like all season we will do well. We are getting better every game and that is what you want to see. As a coach, I am happy about that."
In the seventh, Daley reached on an error on a dropped pop up on the infield. She took second on a wild pitch. After moving to third on a groundout, Megan Lloyd and Tori Knight were both walked to load the bases setting up Mirabella's magical moment.
Though Mirabella produced the game-winning hit, she was just one of many heroes of the day for the Crusaders. All told, her base hit was just one of 11 hits the Crusaders recorded in the victory.
Maddy Gulan did the most damage at the plate as she smacked two two-run home runs to help spearhead the Crusaders' rally. She also delivered two singles, finishing with four RBIs.
Gulan added her name to the list of players from Catholic Central who have hit two home runs in one game. Catcher Taylor Clark performed the fete Saturday in a 25-4 victory Saturday at home over Athens in Game 1 of a doubleheader. In 2003, catcher Megan Gould belted to home runs in a win at Toronto.
Clark contributed two RBIs, Sammi Giannamore recorded two singles and Alex McComb tallied a double. Also, Knight and Lloyd each collected a base hit.
DiCarlo said his girls did not panic when they found themselves down by six runs.
"I think for the majority of the season our girls have not panicked," he said. "They know we can score. They believe we are able to come back.
"I think as the games go on we are able to time the pitchers better. Going into the game, we don't know what we are going to face, but I think the girls time the pitcher better as the game goes on. You saw that today.
"It was Maddy Gulan Day today.
"As the game went on, we were more selective at the plate. I always say if you can hit good-hard balls on the ground good things will happen."
McComb earned the win in relief of Lloyd. McComb finished with three strikeouts and one walk. Lloyd walked two while not recording a strikeout in her three innings inside the circle.
After playing a clean game in the field in Monday's win against Weir, Catholic Central made some mistakes in the field against Madonna. The Crusaders finished Tuesday's game with four errors.
"Our field is kind of choppy right now due to the lack of rain," DiCarlo said. "You also have to take in to account the wind, but we did not play well defensively. We haven't played as well defensively as we should be.
"Megan did a nice job, and Alex did a nice job too. We can't continue to have errors. We have to play better defensively. That is the most disappointing thing.
"Give Madonna credit. They played well. They made some nice plays in the field. They got some timely hits. They got some two-out hits. We got a two-out hit when Maddy hit that home run.
"With our short game and our running game, we are never out of a game."
Amanda Pulice took the loss with one strikeout and three walks. Madonna committed four errors.
Shortstop Maddy Burchill led the way offensively. Burchill tallied a double, a home run and four RBI. Amanda Paul collected a single and two RBI and Amanda Platek delivered a double. Also, Emily Pietranton and Serra Alongi both added singles.
"We are playing more now," Conti said. "The girls are playing together. They are getting used to each other. You can really see that in the last couple of games we have played.
"You get better when you play every day. We are playing well now. There are still a few weeks left in the season. If we keep improving we will be playing really well at the end of the season."
Catholic Central got on the board first when Clark plated Mirabella with a groundout to put the hosts up 1-0 in the bottom of the first.
"We are good enough to compete with anybody," DiCarlo said.
The Crusaders maintained their lead until the Blue Dons erupted for four runs in the top of the third. Burchill belted a two-run home run to key the big inning.
Catholic Central cut its deficit to 4-3 when Gulan launched her first two-run home run in the bottom of the third inning.
After seeing its lead trimmed down to one run, the Blue Dons responded in a big way by scoring five runs in the top of the fourth. Paul plated a pair with a base hit, and Burchill brought home to more runs with a double to make the score 9-3.
"Give credit to Madonna," DiCarlo said. "They played well. They hit the ball well. They made some nice plays. Chris does a good job with them. We were very fortunate to come away with the win, very fortunate."
Catholic Central tallied two runs in the bottom half of the inning to pull within 9-5. Then, the Crusader pushed across four more runs in the sixth inning to tie the score at 9. Gulan added her second two-run home run of the game in the inning to key the rally.
"It was a good high school softball game," said Conti.
Both teams return to the field today. Catholic Central hosts Toronto at 5 p.m. Madonna visits Oak Glen at 5:30 p.m. in a makeup game.
"Toronto is playing well," DiCarlo said. "They are 6-2. I am looking forward to the challenge. Coach (Eugene) Ciciarelli will have his team ready to play."
Steubenville Central 10,
Weirton Madonna 9
Madonna 004 500 0 - 9 6 4
Central 102 203 1 - 10 11 5
MADONNA: Pulice (LP, 1K, 3BB) and Magnone; Burchill S, HR, 4RBI; Paul S, 2RBI; Pietranton S; Alongi S; Platek S.
STEUBENVILLE (8-1): Lloyd (0K, 3BB), McComb (4, WP, 3K, 2BB) and Clark; Gulan 2S, 2HR, 4RBI; Mirabella S, RBI; Giannamore 2S; Clark RBI; McComb D; Lloyd S; Knight S.