People in the Ohio Valley, especially in Eastern Ohio, never cease to amaze me.
Take the inaugural Duane Powell Memorial Softball Game that was staged between rivals Bellaire and Martins Ferry last week in St. Joe.
Fans of the two squads, businesses and organizations came together to raise a ton of money for a very worthwhile cause. A senior player from each team received a scholarship, and that will continue on a yearly basis.
This year's winner's were Bellaire's Mackenzie Conroy and Martins Ferry's Morgan Stalder. Both are stellar 4-year performers and deserving of the honor. They were both presented with checks for $1,112. 50.
According to organizers, the traveling trophy associated with the game will be named the "DIBBY Ball Trophy," in honor of Duane. An acronym, such as SPARKY, is currently in the works. Any ideas can be sent to either high school's softball coach.
Duane's widow, Dorothy, put it best during post-game festivities following the Purple Riders' victory, "Both teams are winners in my eyes."
Indeed they were that day, but so was everyone that made a donation. Remember, every little bit helps.
SECTIONAL action got underway Saturday, as four Division IV games were contested at the Mead Township Park in Shadyside, while one was played in D-III at the St. Clairsville Jr. Sports Complex.
At Shadyside, pitching dominated the first three games as St. John Central used the right arm and the bat of Hannah Absalom in rolling past Beallsville, 23-0. The Irish senior knocked in eight runs - half of them on a grand slam - and tossed a perfect game inside the circle.
It also helped that the Green Machine struck for 14 runs in the first inning. Leadoff hitter, freshman Taylor Lowe, batted three times in the frame.
The Blue Devils ended their season on a sour note. Not only did they get shellacked by St. John Central, but they were also no-hit Thursday by Monroe Central's Kayla Logsdon in a 30-0 loss.
River's Gabby Goudy and Steubenville Catholic's Alex McComb lost their no-hit bids late in their respective games against Frontier and Toronto.
Goudy, a Pilots' senior, gave up a bloop single to the Cougars' Maddie Greathouse with two outs in the sixth. Greathouse battled through 11 pitches before spoiling the no-no.
McComb made it an inning further, but wound up with the same result. Lexi Burger's dribbler down the first base line spun away from McComb with two outs in the seventh.
In the day's final game, which was delayed for nearly 90 minutes by rain, lightning and thunder, between Shadyside and Bridgeport turned out to be a dandy, thanks to a late rally by the Bulldogs.
The Tigers, who are a lot better than their 10-10 record shows, held a 4-0 lead - thanks to Megan Heagney's arm and bat - only to see Bridgeport tally a run in the bottom of the sixth. After Shadyside got that run back in the top of the seventh, here came the youthful Bulldogs.
Bridgeport got to within 5-4 and had the tying run at second, but Heagney notched her 10th punchout of the game to send the Tigers to Tuesday's co-sectional final against the Crusaders, who advanced to the Division III regional semifinals last season.
In today's other co-sectional final, St. John Central and River are paired in what should turn out to be another dandy. The Irish will be seeking their 20th win in 24 starts, while the Pilots navigated their way to a school-record 24th triumph (in 27 games) with their win over PVC rival Frontier.
Action in D-III heats up today with a pair of contests slated in the Belmont County seat. Harrison Central and Barnesville square off in the opener, while Bellaire and Union Local meet in the nightcap.
BASEBALL action also hits the diamonds in Brookside and Cambridge today after rains halted some of Saturday's schedule.
Bridgeport and River will resume their D-IV game on the Niekro Diamond at Perkins Field in Brookside, with Toronto and St. John Central to follow.
In D-III at Don Coss Stadium in Guernsey County, Barnesville meets West Muskingum in the first game. Bellaire and Union Local battle in the second.
Good luck to all area teams!
North can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org