MARTINS FERRY - After posting convincing back-to-back blowouts of Buckeye 8 rivals Indian Creek and Union Local, Martins Ferry's softball team seems to be hitting its stride.
The Purple Riders (7-3) blanked the visiting Jets (7-7) by a 10-0 count in a game stopped with one out in the bottom of the sixth due to the mercy rule. They dominated the Redskins, 10-1, a day earlier.
"We're definitely starting to pick up the bats," Martins Ferry head coach Paige Williams said, "and our defense is starting to follow suit, so that's a good thing."
After allowing a double to Olivia Minamyer to start the game and an ensuing single to the next hitter, Cori Medley, Martins Ferry hurler Shaye DeLeonardis had Union Local wrapped around her finger.
The freshman escaped the early jam by striking out the third batter and inducing back-to-back comebackers. The first resulted in a force out at the plate.
"That was huge," Williams said of getting out of the first inning unscathed.
Union Local head coach Roger Herbert had nothing but praise for DeLeonardis.
"Give that girl credit," he said. "She threw the ball real well today in these conditions. We hit a few balls right at them, but couldn't bunch anything together."
DeLeonardis finished with a 3-hitter that featured half-a-dozen strikeouts and no walks. She needed just 64 pitches, of which 52 were strikes. Of the 18 outs recorded, in addition to the six Ks, she induced nine groundouts.
"No, I'm not surprised by the way Shaye is pitching," Williams continued. "Honestly, she's been pitching better and better with each game. As a freshman, I was surprised how well she has pitched, but she's improved with every game."
With DeLeonardis doing the job on the mound, the Purple Riders pounded out 10 hits.
Addie Suriano legged out an infield single to start the bottom of the first, and Kady Webb's fly ball to center ended up in a wind-blown RBI double. Freshman Tyrah King continued her heavy hitting by depositing a 2-2 offering from Ali Bethel well over the leftfield fence for a 3-0 lead. It was King's fifth round-tripper of the season, and second in two days.
It was the left-handed hitting Suriano that jump-started a 3-run third-inning rally that bumped the count to 6-0. She walked and stole second. Webb followed with a looping single to center that Suriano had to hold on. Both executed a double steal prior to Cassie Hanson's RBI single down the third base line. Webb would touch the plate on Morgan Stalder's sacrifice bunt, and Hanson would race home on a wild pitch.
A 4-run sixth sealed the deal as Kylie Stalder led off with a single. DeLeonardis and Brooklyn Monroe reached on back-to-back fielder's choices in which no outs were recorded as the bases were juiced. Krissy Hotlosz's infield single scored Stalder, while courtesy runner Katie Southerland scored on a wild pitch. Suriano added an RBI single, as did Hanson to end the contest.
"The last two days we've really played well in all aspects of the game," Williams allowed.
After allowing the first two batters to reach base safely, DeLeonardis settled down and retired 15 straight until Bethel looped a single to right leading off the sixth. DeLeonardis then retired the side on strikes.
Union Local returns home today to host Shenandoah in a 9:30 a.m. twinbill, while Martins Ferry travels to Wellsburg to meet Brooke for two games.
Union Local 000 000 - 0 3 2
Martins Ferry 303 004 - 10 10 0
Batteries: Bethel and Cole. DeLeonardis and Hotlosz
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