MARTINS FERRY - What a difference a few days makes.
Well, sort of.
The Martins Ferry Lady Purple Riders whitewashed Bridgeport, 18-0, in their last meeting. However, Wednesday's game was significantly closer, but the Lady Riders managed to complete the season sweep against the Lady Bulldogs by virtue of a 4-3 victory at Martins Ferry High School.
"We were able to manufacture some runs when we needed to," Lady Riders' head coach Paige Williams said. "We barely squeaked by tonight, but we got the job done."
The biggest difference in the two games was the return to the pitching circle by Bridgeport ace Ashley Hadzima, who's not been able to pitch the last 10 or so games because of injury.
"It's definitely a big difference when she's out there for us," Bridgeport head coach Tom Joseph said. "She's probably only thrown 20 or 30 pitches in practice since she got hurt. Martins Ferry's a good hitting team and we committed a few errors, but things are looking up for us as we head toward sectionals."
The Lady Riders wasted little time in welcoming Hadzima back to the circle. Speedy senior Addie Suriano led off with an infield single and frosh Tyrah King fanned, but reached first on a wild pitch.
Both came around to score to make it 2-0.
Suriano slapped a bloop single into shallow left to begin the third. She stole second, advanced to third on a passed ball and then ace pitcher Shaye DeLeonardis drove her in with a single, making it 3-0.
That appeared that it could be plenty as DeLeonardis was cruising in the circle. She faced the minimum through three.
However, Bridgeport's offense got to her in the fourth. Dustyne Cargnell led off with single and took second when the Lady Riders' outfielder misplayed the ball. Hard-hitting frosh Caitlyn Croll slugged the ensuing pitch off the fence for an RBI single.
After an out was recorded, Hadzima helped her own cause when she took a DeLeonardis offering the other way for a 2-run home run to right.
"Hadzima definitely makes a big difference for them and we knew that," Williams said. "Unfortunately, we're not on a real good up-swing at the moment, but if the team that I know we can be shows up, I feel confident on any day and I'll go up against anyone. But, if the team that sneaks in there shows up, we could have problems."
The tie game didn't last long, however.
Junior Morgan Stalder produced a one-out hustling double to left. She executed a delayed steal to third and then as the throw skipped away, she raced home with what proved to be the game-winning run.
"We had a chance to get (Stalder) out twice, but we didn't make either play," Joseph said. "It was just a compound of errors and it allowed the run. That's kind of how our season has gone, but I can't fault the girls because they played hard."
DeLeonardis worked the complete game with five strikeouts and just one walk. Hadzima, meanwhile, fanned three and walked one.
Both teams are off today and complete their regular seasons on Friday. Martins Ferry (16-8) visits Indian Creek, while Bridgeport (10-12) treks Bellaire on Friday.
Bpt 000 300 0 - 3 6 2
Ferry 201 100 x - 4 7 1
Batteries: Hadzima and E. Nowakowski. DeLeonardis and Hotlosz.
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