MARTINS FERRY - Paige Williams won't argue with the results her Martins Ferry softball team is putting forth.
But, she would like to see the process improve as the season prepares to enter its stretch run toward the OVAC Tournament and Ohio sectional play.
That was the message she sent to her red-hot ballclub after it posted a hard-earned 3-1 victory on a chilly Wednesday afternoon against St. Clairsville.
ST. CLAIRSVILLE third baseman Lauren Figura prepares to tag Martins Ferry’s Kelsey Spielvogel during Wednesday’s game in Martins Ferry. The Lady Riders prevailed, 3-1. Additional images may be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
"This wasn't our finest performance, but a 'W' is a 'W' and I'll certainly take it," Williams said. "We played a good team and didn't play our best defensively, but we got some timely hitting."
The win is the Lady Riders' 11th overall and eighth straight as they continue to roll toward the top seed in next week's conference tournament.
"I honestly don't think we're playing our best right now," Williams continued. "We're playing well enough right now, which I suppose is good, but I expect a little bit more of them, so I hope we can find that when it counts."
For the second straight game, the Riders struggled to get a lot of offense going, but they did get a big hit.
Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the fourth, Brooklyn Monroe drew a lead-off walk.
Powerful sophomore shortstop Tyrah King got a belt-high fastball and lined it out of the park in a hurry for a 2-1 lead.
"That was a big hit by Tyrah," Williams said. "It really got us going and took some of the pressure off."
As it tends to do, Martins Ferry also manufactured a run without a hit in the fifth. Morgan Stalder was plunked with one out, moved up to second on a wild pitch and scored two hitters later when a pop fly was dropped in the infield.
"Defensively, we had some costly errors, and we just can't have those," St. Clairsville head coach Rachel Duncan said.
With three runs on the board, Ferry turned it over to sophomore ace Shaye DeLeonardis, who continued her fine pitching. She struck out nary a hitter and walked one, but she continually made St. Clairsville hit her pitches.
"She's pretty good at keeping the batters off balance," Williams said. "She makes them put it in play and hopes that her defense can back her up, and so far, they have."
St. Clairsville's offense, which has been powerful in its own right of late, was limited to four hits.
"We didn't have enough hitting," Duncan said. "We have to be able to manufacture more offense against a good team. We're capable of doing so, which makes it disappointing."
The Red Devils' lone run was unearned in the third inning.
St. C.'s Mackenzi Otto narrowly missed a solo home run in the sixth. Her towering fly ball landed on top of the fence and bounced back into the field of play for a double.
She was later retired on a groundout.
While Martins Ferry appears to be well on its way to the OVAC 4A Tourney, the loss could prove damaging for the Red Devils, who are now 9-6 and have dates with St. John, Harrison Central and Cambridge remaining this week.
"This was a big game for us, so it's not good (in terms of the OVAC)," Duncan said. "I have pride and believe in our team. I just wanted to see us play to our fullest potential today."
Martins Ferry, which is inching toward the Buckeye 8 title as well, has a road trip to Indian Creek on the docket for today. Linescore:
St. Clairsville 001 000 0 - 1 4 2
Martins Ferry 000 210 x - 3 4 3
St. C. - Miller lp (4K, 2BB) and Hummel. Otto D.
MF - DeLeonardis wp (0K, 1BB) and Hotlosz. King HR, 2RBI.