Big Red has first title in school history

WHEELING – April 14 through April 19 was a stint the Steubenville softball team would like to forget.

“Two weeks ago we were dead in the water,” said Big Red coach Gus DiMarzio.

It had lost five-straight games, being outscored 47-19, in those five days.

“What could we do?” DiMarzio said. “We just kept pushing and practicing hard and it turned around into this.”

The first OVAC 4A title in program history.

Steubenville beat Harrison Central, 4-2, in the conference championship game on Saturday at Wheeling’s I-470 Youth Sports Complex.

“It’s a testament to our kids,” DiMarzio said. “No coach can do that. I didn’t field a ball, none of us guys in the dugout got a hit.

“I got to give props to my six seniors and their leadership abilities. They brought us back from the dead.”

Big Red, now 17-7, collected seven hits off Huskies’ pitcher Katie Ellzy and scored in the first, fourth and sixth innings.

Steubenville was swift on the basepaths – stealing a total of five bases as a team.

“Before the game, coaches told us that we should not be put down by anyone,” said Big Red senior catcher Mytia Barker. “And that we had to be as aggressive as we can.”

Sierra Fields was Steubenville’s first baserunner in the bottom of the first inning, reaching on an infield hit. The junior stole second and third base, before scoring the game’s first run.

Fields rushed home on a wild pitch and evaded a tag by Joelle Jones.

“Anytime you can get a run on Ellzy, it’s huge,” DiMarzio said. “She gets up on you and she starts mowing people down, then you feel that you’re in a bad spot.

“Luckily we didn’t get down to that. It’s a big deal anytime you can score first.”

After the wild pitch, Barker laced a double to the right-centerfield gap.

“I was pretty pumped,” she said. “It was exciting to hit a double off such a talented player like Katie.

“That built my personal confidence for the rest of the game.”

Barker was on the receiving end of freshman pitcher Hayley Stamps. She tossed 17 first pitch strikes and only allowed two runs – both driven in by Ellzy.

Stamps struck out two and allowed five hits. She sent the Huskies down in order three times.

“It feels pretty amazing,” Stamps said of not only earning the win in Steubenville’s first OVAC title game, but gaining the trust of coaches and teammates in her first varsity season. “It’s meant a lot and shows that they all have confidence in me to pitch well on the mound.”

Harrison (10-6) tied things at one in the fourth inning as Ellzy plated Shianne Nameth on a single to centerfield.

Steubenville responded with a pair in the bottom half when Carmie Biasi drove in Kesha Barz on a one-out double. Biasi then stole third and Abby Taylor followed by beating out a bunt single, bringing in another run.

“We just tried to move runners up by stealing bases and bunting,” DiMarzio said. “We got a great bunt from Abby that went for a hit and we were scoring runs off that.

“We capitalized on anything we could. We played the game hard.”

Harrison cut the deficit to one in the sixth inning on a solo homer over the left field fence by Ellzy. Big Red got insurance when courtesy runner Janae Snyder scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the sixth.

Stamps escaped the top of the seventh, which featured a Kara Dunfee double and Ellzy taking a four-pitch walk, to seal the victory.

“I just put in my head that we were up,” Stamps said. “It was nice playing with a lead. I had faith in myself and hope in my teammates.”

Barz, Casey Gentile and Nauja Banks added hits for Big Red.