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Huskies’ late surge too little too late

MARTINS FERRY — Jerry Magistro has been around the game of high school softball for nearly two decades to know no lead is ever safe.

The veteran head coach watched his Martins Ferry squad take a six-run lead into the top of the seventh inning Tuesday against Harrison Central. The Huskies put up a five-spot but came up a run short, 8-7, in suffering their first setback of the campaign.

“Harrison Central is a really good team. They hit the ball. They play good defense and they pitch well,” Magistro said. “I knew we would have to come out and hit the ball, and we did.”

Danyel Beadling gave Harrison Central (5-1) a 1-0 lead in the top of the first with a one-out single that plated Maddy Butler. The Huskies made it 2-0 in the third thanks to a pair of fielding miscues by the Purple Riders (5-3).

Martins Ferry took the lead for good in the bottom of the inning, as Danielle Lude singled in one run and Lauren McFarland knocked in a pair.

Maria Clark singled home winning pitcher Kelsi Gillespie in the fourth, as the margin grew to 4-1.

Lude’s three-run laser over the fence in left pushed the advantage to 7-2. The hosts tacked on an unearned marker in the sixth.

Four Purple Riders registered multi-hit games, with McFarland recording a trio of one-base raps. Lude finished with two singles, the round-tripper and four runs batted in. Hunter Pollock and Gillespie each singled twice. As a team, they finished with 13 safeties.

“I think we proved we are a pretty good hitting team yesterday,” Magistro said, referring to Monday’s 19-hit barrage against St. Clairsville when his team rallied from an 8-0 deficit. “Our big thing is that we are leaving way too many runners on base in scoring position. We did it again (Tuesday). We did it (Monday). We’ve done it all season.”

Gillespie attends St. John Academy, but since the Irish don’t have a softball program this season, she opted to play for the Purple Riders. In addition to cracking a pair of singles, the sophomore was on base three times, scored three runs and carried a 4-hitter into the seventh.

“Kelsi did a good job for six innings,” Magistro said. “She just has to be able to finish stronger, but we also need to make the routine outs and quit making so many errors.”

Harrison Central made things interesting with two swings of the bat in the seventh. Jenna Young’s two-out, two-run single preceded Lexi Ferguson’s three-run blast to left, but it wasn’t enough.

“Just a little bit too late. I thought their pitcher did a nice job of keeping us off balance early on,” Harrison Central head coach Darrin Young said. “We also made too many errors to beat a good team like this. Martins Ferry is a good team and you can’t make errors on routine outs.

“I like how my team didn’t quit … didn’t stop battling. We battled until the final out of the last inning. We very easily could’ve packed it up, but we didn’t. That’s a plus for us.”

Butler singled twice and scored three runs for the Huskies, who trek to East Liverpool today. Martins Ferry ventures to St. Clairsville.

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