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Blue Dons softball team returns home as sectional champions

SMALL BALL — Madonna’s Miranda Sole lays a bunt down during Tuesday’s Class A Region 1 Section 1 final against Magnolia. -- Cody Tomer

WHEELING — The Class A Region 1 Section 1 softball trophy is heading to Madonna High School.

The Blue Dons took care of Magnolia, 9-2, on Tuesday to eliminate the Blue Eagles and advance to the regional next week where they will face Ritchie County on the road Tuesday and back home Wednesday. If a third game is necessary, it will be on Thursday in Ritchie County.

“It’s been a long time,” Madonna coach Chris Conti said of the last time his squad won a sectional crown. “These girls deserve this. They played hard in this tournament, and they did everything they were supposed to do.

“They get along so well, and I think that’s why they keep winning. It’s fun.”

Pitcher Landry Bone struck out nine and walked three in her complete-game effort. However, it was Magnolia that grabbed the lead in the top of the first on a RBI double by Shyanna White to plate leadoff hitter Haidyn Bland, but Madonna answered with some small ball. 

The Blue Dons dropped three bunts and forced Magnolia into four errors in the bottom half of the stanza. Michaela Battista delivered an RBI single, and Casey Yacos provided a, RBI bunt single to give the Blue Dons a 4-1 lead.

“We tried to put a little pressure on them,” Conti said. “We played a little small ball in the beginning, and it worked. Then, it continued with hitting and worked out pretty well for us.”

Battista blew it open in the second with a two-run home run. Bone and Adriana Lenhart also supplied RBI hits in the second to expand the lead to 8-1.

“I gave Battista the green light and told her it was going to be right down the middle, and she took advantage of it,” Conti said. 

The Blue Eagles didn’t quit, though. Bland showed hustle and heart with a two-out RBI infield single that scored Olivia Stine to cut it to 8-2 in the fourth.

Then, Magnolia pitcher Karisa Postlethwait got out of a bases-loaded jam unscathed in the sixth.

“I just wish it would have started out a little differently,” Magnolia coach Angela Johnson said. “Take away those first two innings — they scored eight of their nine runs in the first two innings. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong in those first two innings.

“We never gave up though. They didn’t run-rule us. I’m proud of the girls for trying to fight back. Our pitcher (Postlethwait) easily could have been flustered, but she kept fighting.”

It was too little, too late, however. Maddi Cross scampered home in the sixth on a wild pitch to put the finishing touches on Madonna’s memorable night at the ballpark.

“This was a very good high school game,” Conti said. “Congrats to Magnolia. They did a great job.”

Lenhart finished with three hits and an RBI, while Cross turned in three hits and leadoff hitter Maddie Daugherty tallied two hits.

Bland paced Magnolia with three hits and an RBI, while Kady Fluharty added two singles.

“COVID hurt everyone last year,” Johnson said. “But, our team was a brand new team coming into the season, and I’m proud of the growth I saw. I feel like we’ll be even stronger next year.”

Madonna 9, Magnolia 2

Magnolia  1-0-0 1-0-0  0 — 2 8 4

Madonna  4-4-0 0-0-1 x — 9 12 0

MAGNOLIA: Postlethwait lp (1K, 4B) and Conner. Bland 3S, rbi; White D, rbi; Fluharty 2S.MADONNA: Bone wp (9K, 3BB) and Sole. Daugherty 2S; Bone S, rbi; Battista S, HR, 3rbi; Cross 3S; Yacos S, rbi; Lenhart 3S, rbi.

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