SHADYSIDE - Last Saturday, Catholic Central starting catcher Ashlynne Daley was out of the Crusader lineup and out of town, completely.
The junior and her family went to Cincinnati for a family wedding.
Central still had a game, though, and a big one at that. In the Division IV sectional opener against Toronto, senior Maddy Gulan assumed the role behind the plate.
OUT — Steubenville Catholic Central catcher Ashlynne Daley tags out Shadyside’s Katie Heath during a rundown as Crusaders teammate Gabby Capaldi looks on during Tuesday’s 9-2 victory over Shadyside in the Division IV sectional tournament.
"I've done it my whole life," Gulan said. "I primarily play outfield, but I will catch in college a little bit, too. Coach (Jim DiCarlo) just wanted to prepare me there since we had the chance."
On Tuesday, Daley was back at backstop and Gulan returned to the outfield.
The Crusaders won, 9-2, over Shadyside in a Division IV sectional final. They will face either Tuscarawas Central or Hiland in the District tournament, beginning Monday at New Philadelphia.
Ohio Division IV Co-Sectional Final
(at Mead Township Park, Shadyside)
Steubenville Catholic 9, Shadyside 2
Shadyside 000 020 0 - 2 3 4
Steubenville Catholic 212 103 x - 9 10 2
SHADYSIDE: Heagney (LP 4K, 5W) and Dunn. Klug S, RBI; Heath RBI.
CATHJOLIC?CENTRAL: McComb (WP 2K, 3W) and Daley. Gulan 3S, 4RBI; Daley 2S, D, 2RBI; McComb 3D; G. Capaldi S, 2RBI; S. Mirabella RBI.
Daley collected three hits - a double and two singles - with two RBIs in her return.
"I was happy to give the catching gear back to Ashlynne," Gulan said. "That's her position. I love playing outfield more than anything."
Gulan collected three hits, herself, and an RBI. Every player in the starting lineup reached base at least once as the Crusaders (16-4) collected 10 total hits.
"We hit the ball really hard," DiCarlo said. "We had hoped that some of the preparation that we made for the game through scouting hours of game film would come back to help us.
"Positioning and how we wanted to pitch came into play.
"Shadyside has a really good offensive team. There's not an easy out in their lineup. We were hoping we could get ahead and put a little pressure on them and we did."
The Shadyside-Central rivalry has been one of the more highlighted softball tilts in the Ohio Valley over the past few seasons. On April 23, the Crusaders topped the Tigers, 2-0, which helped solidify their spot in the OVAC tournament.
"They're always battling with us," said Central assistant coach Bill Davis. "It seems like they're our nemesis. It's always a battle with Shadyside. They'll take it to you tooth and nail. We're two good teams going at it. It's good for both schools."
Alex McComb continued her success on the mound, allowing just three hits and striking out two. No Tiger was in scoring position until the fifth inning, though the Crusaders already had a 6-0 lead.
McComb walked Sarah Dierkes to start the inning, then Bethany Ramsey hit a single. Samantha Rossex walked to load the bases and DiCarlo called a quick team meeting in the circle.
"It was just about trying to throw strikes," DiCarlo said. "She had lost a little command there and then we wanted to get an out somewhere. We were going to be conservative.
"We didn't care if they scored a run or two, we just didn't want a real big inning there."
Karly Klug ripped a single in the hole at shortstop which brought in the first run and Katie Heath drove home another run on a fielder's choice out at second.
Central got out of the inning as Daley caused Heath to get in a rundown between first and second. Covering first base, Daley applied the tag on Heath for the third out.
McComb helped her own cause at the plate with three doubles and Gabby Capaldi brought home two runs on a single in the third inning. Micca Mirabella scored three runs and had an RBI.
Mirabella and Gulan, the Crusaders' only two seniors, have never lost a sectional final game. They've advanced to the district tournament all four years.
"We expect to be here every year," Mirabella said. "Winning and moving on is just going to be another game for us."
Shadyside pitcher Megan Heagney struck out four and walked five. The Tigers committed four errors and end the season at 10-11.