WEIRTON - The Madonna girls softball team scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning without the benefit of a hit to break up a tie game and win the city championship for the eighth straight year over Weir High Thursday, 7-4.
The homestanding Lady Blue Dons yielded three first-inning runs, but came from behind with the late-inning rally to hoist the traveling trophy presented following the win by Joe Alongi of the Weirton Boys and Girls Club, trophy sponsors.
"I'm very proud of the girls," said Chris Conti, who is coaching the Lady Blue Dons for the 21st season. "We got down in a hole there in the first inning, but the girls kept their composure. They kept fighting back and kept playing hard. They never gave up."
CITY CHAMPS — The Weirton Madonna softball team won the city championship for the eighth year in a row with a 7-4 win over Weir High Thursday at Starvaggi Park. The trophy was presented by Joe Alongi of the Weirton Boys and Girls Club, trophy sponsors.
-- Matthew Peaslee
But it was the Lady Red Riders (3-8) who struck early as the first three batters in the top of the opening inning scored.
Brianna Rosnick opened the game with a walk from winning pitcher Amanda Pulice, her only free pass of the game. Freshman Miriah Stevens, who was the losing pitcher, moved Rosnick to second when she legged out a fielder's choice ground ball. Rosnick scored when Ashlyn Drizake reached first on a Blue Don error.
Senior Jillian Karavanic also reached on a fielder's choice moving Stevens to third and Drizake to second. Both of them scored on a single to center by Kelly LeMasters.
The Lady Blue Dons got one run back in the bottom of the first when Aubrey Platek walked, moved to third on Amanda Paul's single and raced home on Montana Mascio's ground out to third base.
"In every game we've lost, the other teams have capitalized on every error we made," said veteran Red Rider mentor Dave Hinerman. "Chris (Conti) and his assistant coaches do a great job. They waited tonight for their opportunities and pounced on our mistakes.
"Now that's not to take anything away from the Madonna girls. They played well and they got the hits when they needed them. We just helped them out a little bit with our miscues both physically and mentally."
The Blue Dons reduced the Red Rider lead to 3-2 in the bottom of the fourth when Brianna Pierro got aboard on an infield single. She was sacrificed to second by Courtney Kaczmarek and scored when Becca Holt reached on one of the four Weir High fielding errors.
Madonna took the lead for the first time in the bottom of the fifth inning in lightning-like fashion. With two out, sophomore shortstop Taylor Thompson got aboard on a Red Rider error and scored when Pierro drilled a double over the left fielder's head. Pierro went to third on the attempt at the plate to get Thompson and scored on a wild pitch.
"That was a key hit by Pierro and we were able to get the timely hits tonight." Conti added. "We struggled with that last night, but we got them today. When you get timely hits that's when you score runs."
Weir High came back to tie the game in the top of the sixth inning when catcher Samantha Tate drilled a single to center field. Gianna DeVeechis replaced her on the base paths as the courtesy runner and promptly stole second base. She raced home on Abby Pratt's line drive single to left field.
Madonna retaliated in the bottom of the sixth inning with three runs. Catcher Annie Magnone walked to start the uprising. She went to second on a wild pitch before Holt put down a sacrifice bunt. When the Red Riders threw the ball past first base, Magnone scored and Holt went to third when Platek's ground ball was misplayed.
Mascio drove Holt home with a ground ball out and Platek scored on another Weir High error on Emily Pietranton's grounder.
"Our motto on this team is '110 percent' and the girls just kept fighting and fighting and they gave it the 110 percent," said Conti.
"We ran the bases well using our speed, played good defense and Amanda (Pulice) pitched an outstanding game. We made some mental mistakes in that first inning, but Amanda didn't let it bother her and kept her cool."
Madonna, now 8-5, takes on another rival Saturday when it hosts Wheeling Central in a makeup game at 2:30 p.m.
The Red Riders also host Wheeling Central Saturday at 1 p.m.
Madonna 7, Weir High 4
Weir High 300 001 0 - 4 6 4
Madonna 100 123 x - 7 6 2
WEIR HIGH (3-8): Stevens (LP, 3BB, 3SO), Pratt and Tate. Stevens 2S, R; Tate S, RBI, R; LeMasters S, 2RBI; Pratt S, RBI.
MADONNA (8-5): Pulice (WP, 1BB, 5SO) and Magnone. Pierro S, 2B, RBI, 2R; Pietranton S, RBI; Kaczmarek S; Magnone S, R.