McLaughlin’s bat leads Weir past Crusaders

WEIRTON – Big wins can come at any point in the season.

It is early in the season, but the Weir softball team picked up a big win Friday, pounding out 10 hits to knock visiting Catholic Central from the ranks of the unbeaten with a 10-5 victory.

With the game deadlocked at 3, the Red Riders pushed seven runners across the plate in the bottom of the fifth inning to take a 10-3 advantage.

As they have done all season, the Crusaders scored a couple of late runs, but this time it was not enough to rally for the victory.

“That was probably the best game we have played,” Weir (3-5) head coach Dave Hinerman said. “We told the kids that they were going to need to bring their ‘A’ game, and they did. They played really well.

“Catholic Central is well coached. They are fundamentally sound. They hit well.”

While Weir played well, Catholic Central (4-1) made mistakes in all phases of the game.

“I thought our pitchers did OK,” Catholic Central head coach Jim DiCarlo said. “Our defense let us down. We are a better team defensively than we have shown.

“Give credit to Weir. They hit the ball well. They got big hits with runners on, and we didn’t. We had opportunities, but we didn’t take advantage of them.

“Our kids battled, but you have to give credit to their pitcher. She pitched a nice game. She did a wonderful job. We had some hard hit balls, but we couldn’t get the big hit. We stranded a lot of runners. We are going to have to play sharper defensively.”

Micah DiBacco earned the win. She struck out two without walking a batter. She allowed five hits.

Offensively, three of Weir’s 10 hits went for extra bases, and the Red Riders were able to take advantage of multiple Crusader miscues in the field. Catholic Central committed five errors.

Haley McLaughlin tallied two singles, a bases-clearing triple and five RBIs. Brianna Rosnick recorded a single, a double and two RBIs and Meikka Buffo belted an RBI single. Also, Allison Fuccy contributed a double, while Jillian Karavanic, Casey Lemasters and Abbey Pratt all collected base hits.

“This is the first time I have beaten him,” Hinerman said. “Our kids played wonderfully. We got some breaks, and they gave us some breaks. Our last two games – we beat Toronto yesterday – we have played fundamentally sound. We hit the ball well. We ran well. We pitched well. We caught the ball well.

“Micah did not break. She bent a couple of times, but she did not break. Abbey Pratt picked up the win against Toronto, and Micah came in to relieve her. I like to have the pitchers pitch for or five innings and then have the other one come in the game.

“I thought about taking Micah out if she got into any trouble in the seventh inning, but Micah really battled today. I did not want to pull her out of the game. She made the decision for me.”

Catholic Central used three pitchers – Megan Lloyd, Alex McComb and Tori Knight.

Lloyd she took the loss. Lloyd pitched four innings while recording three strikeouts and three walks. McComb struck out one and walked one in the fifth and Knight walked one in the sixth.

Offensively, the middle of the order did most of the damage for the Crusaders. Maddy Gulan, the team’s No. 5 hitter, ended up with three singles and an RBI. McComb, the No. 4 hitter, and No. 3 hitter Taylor Clark each contributed two singles and an RBI while leadoff batter Mica Mirabella tallied two singles. Sammi Giannamore, the No. 2 hitter in the lineup, added a single.

The Crusaders scored a run in the top of the first to take the early lead. Mirabella started things off with a single, and she came around to score on a ground out by Clark to put Catholic Central up 1-0.

The visitors maintained the lead until the bottom of the second.

Karavanic got things rolling with a single, and then Fuccy contributed a one-out double. Pratt followed with a pop up to Lloyd. Things then got a little strange.

Pratt stepped back into the batter’s box for another at-bat. The Catholic Central coaches brought the fact that Pratt was batting for a second time to the attention of the home plate umpire. The umpires ruled Pratt out, and allowed Buffo, the team’s leadoff hitter, to continue the at-bat. Buffo ended up drawing an intentional walk to load the bases.

Next, McLaughlin delivered a triple to clear the bases to put the Red Riders ahead, 3-1.

The Crusaders battled back to tie the score with a pair of runs in the fourth. Gulan belted an RBI single in the frame.

The Red Riders broke the game open with seven runs in the fifth inning. McLaughlin and Rosnick each smacked two-run singles, and Buffo belted an RBI single. Weir was able to capitalize on a couple of Catholic Central’s miscues in the field to extend their lead.

“The girls, they are not walking, they are floating,” Hinerman said.

McComb belted an RBI single in the seventh. It was the third-straight single for the visitors, but DiBacco retired the next two batters to end the game.

“Give Weir credit,” DiCarlo said. “They hit the ball well. They were able to come up with some big hits when they needed them.”

Weir hosts Buckeye Local for a noon doubleheader today. The Red Riders visit the Crusaders Monday at the Steve Zamana Softball Field.

“It comes down to pitching and defense,” Hinerman said. “I am on top of the world. I have all of the respect in the world for him. He is a great coach. I’d love to be able to walk in his shoes.

“I want to thank our coaches. They did a great job. We play a doubleheader against Buckeye Local tomorrow before heading over to play them again on Monday. We are going to have to bring our ‘A’ game again, because those girls are going to be ready to play.”