STEUBENVILLE - The 2014 Big Red softball team sits alone at the top of the list.
Sierra Fields plated a pair with a double in the bottom of the fourth inning lifting Big Red to a 5-3 victory over Shadyside Wednesday evening at Franciscan University of Steubenville. The victory was Big Red 19th of the season, setting a school record.
"This is our 19th win of the season which gives us the most wins in school history in a single season, so I guess it is a big win for us," second-year Big Red (19-7) head coach Gus DiMarzio said. "It is a huge win for us. It is a huge win for our program. It is a huge win for our school."
HIGH?FIVE — Big?Red’s Kesha Barz high-fives teammate Taylor Haney in the fourth inning of a 5-3 win over Shadyside on Wednesday at Franciscan University of Steubenville.
-- Matthew Peaslee
The victory was Big Red's ninth-straight victory since losing 6-4 to Catholic Central on April 21. The loss to the Crusaders was Big Red's fifth straight after starting the season 10-2.
The Red-and-Black has bounced back to win their last nine games, including a 5-1 win over their city rivals April 24 at the Steve Zamana Softball Field. Saturday, Big Red captured its first OVAC Tournament title by defeating Harrison Central, 4-2, in the Class 4A Championship Game down at the 1-470 Complex.
"I am proud of our seniors," DiMarzio said. "Every week, every game they play hard. They are doing a great job leading the team. They deserve all of the accolades they get."
Big Red's six seniors are Brittany Bodo, Abby Taylor, Loren Gray, Carmie Biasi, Mytia Barker and Casey Gentile. Barker, Biasi and Gentile have played all four years, and they are the team's three captains.
Barker recorded two singles and an RBI in the win over the Tigers (9-9).
Big Red may be led by its seniors, but the team received major contributions from its underclassmen against the Tigers. The younger players have provided a big lift to Big Red so far this season.
Freshman Hayley Stamps overcame a rough fourth inning to record the win. Stamps struck out three while walking two.
Fellow freshmen Na Banks and Rhiannon Petrisko also produced at the plate for Big Red. Banks ended up with an RBI, and Petrisko collected a base hit.
Big Red opened the scoring by plating three runs in the third inning to build a 3-0 advantage. Sierra Fields had an RBI double in the inning, Banks plated a run with a sacrifice fly and Barker singled home the third run.
The Tigers fought their way back into the game by scoring three runs in the fourth inning to tie the score at 3.
Big Red regained the lead for good in the fourth on the two-run double by Fields. It also got some timely pitches and some timely defense to go along with their timely hits to knock off the Tigers.
"Na Banks made some really nice plays defensively," DiMarzio said. "When you have kids that are freshmen and who play hard and who battle just as hard as everyone else, you can't be upset.
"Hayley, who is another freshman, battled."
Steubenville is scheduled to play at 5 p.m. today against East Liverpool on Senior Night back at Franciscan University of Steubenville.
"I think it will be emotional for them," DiMarzio said. "They will be ready to play the game. They are going to want to end on a high not instead of on a downer."
Many of the girls on the softball team play multiple sports, including some three-sport athletes.
The softball team sits one win away from joining the girls' basketball team at the 20-win plateau. The Big Red girls - under the guidance of head coach Phil Casinelli - won 20 games for the first time in school history this past season, and they ended the season with a stellar mark of 20-3.
The girls won the Class 4A regular season championship before falling to Harrison Central, 66-58, in the championship game.
Also, Emiley Masloski, a senior on the team, surpassed the 1,000-point mark for her career during the season. In the fall, the volleyball and girls' soccer teams both had strong seasons. The volleyball team - led by head coach Lynn Meyer - ended the season with a record of 14-10. Big Red qualified for the OVAC Class 4A Tournament for the first time in several seasons and finished third.
Meadowbrook, the No. 3 seed in the tournament, rallied to defeat No. 2 seed Big Red, 17-25, 25-23, 25-19, in the semifinals. Big Red bounced back to defeat fourth-seeded East Liverpool, 25-16, 25-22.
Big Red went on to defeat Cambridge in four games, 25-22, 23-25, 26-24, 25-19, in an Ohio Division II Eastern District Sectional Quarterfinal in a math played on John Jenkins Court down at St. Clairsville High School.
Edison brought Big Red's season to an end in the sectional semifinals as the Wildcats won in three games, 25-19, 25-21, 25-14.
Finally, under the guidance of head coach Jared Robinson, the Big Red girls' soccer team ended the regular season with a winning record. Big Red suffered a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Cambridge in the Ohio Division II Eastern District Sectional Semifinals in St. Clairsville. The loss to the Warriors ended Big Red's turnaround season at 8-8-1.
"It's been a great year for female athletes at Steubenville High School," DiMarzio said. "That is a testament to the female athletes we have at Steubenville High School. We have a lot of great female athletes at Steubenville High School.
"They work hard. They give their best. They do a great job playing. The community, the school and the administration is proud of what these girls have accomplished. Hopefully, it continues."
Big Red will open up play in the postseason at 5:30 p.m. Monday against Buckeye Local in an Ohio Division II Eastern District Sectional Semifinal out at Jefferson Lake State Park.
"This year has been a challenge," DiMarzio said. "Playing a tough schedule prepares us for the tournament. To get 19 wins against the type of schedule we play, I have to be happy with that."
"I talked with the other coaches after the game, and there are still some things we want to accomplish," DiMarzio said. "A year ago, we told the girls that if they buy into what we were doing, then they were going to have success, and that they were going to have a chance to set some records.
"Like I said before, we can't make plays for them. They have to do it themselves on the field. They did that. They have come up big."