STEUBENVILLE - The expected pitcher's duel turned into a bit of a slugfest.
The Catholic Central and Harrison Central softball teams each belted two home runs, but it was the Crusaders who did the most damage at the plate as they scored at least one run in each of the first five innings en route to a 7-3 victory over the Huskies Thursday afternoon at the Steve Zamana Softball Field.
"It has been hard to get into a rhythm with this weather," Catholic Central head coach Jim DiCarlo said. "We scored five runs in the last two innings to defeat Magnolia (Wednesday). I think mentally that gave us confidence. We had a good batting session today before the game and that helped our confidence."
The Crusaders (6-3) doubled up the Huskies in the hits column.
"We got beat by a better team today," Harrison Central head coach Donnie Bethel said. "They beat us in every facet of the game.
"No excuses. They knocked us down on the mat. We will find out how we recover from that in our doubleheader Saturday. We are at a critical stage in our season.
"Catholic Central played extremely well. I was impressed."
In a battle of aces, Catholic Central sophomore Alex McComb got the better of Harrison Central junior Katie Ellzy.
McComb picked up the win, striking out four and walking one.
"Alex hit her locations well," DiCarlo said. "Her change-up was better. She has been real consistent for us this year. She has had quality outings every time out."
McComb also helped her own cause collecting three hits to go with three RBI.
All told, Catholic Central tallied 10 hits on the afternoon. Individually, McComb contributed a single, a double and a home run, Ashlynne Daley delivered a double, a home run and two RBIs and Fran Capaldi recorded two singles and two RBIs. Also, Shayna Mirabella, Micca Mirabella and Megan Lloyd all delivered base hits.
Ellzy took the loss for the Huskies (5-3). She struck out eight while walking two.
"Katie is not going to sneak up on anybody," Bethel said. "She is still learning how to be a good pitcher. She has the God-given talent. She just needs to refine that."
Offensively, Shianne Nameth ripped a single and a home run to go along with two RBIs. Paige Dunlap belted a solo home run and Ashley Heavlin and Ellzy singled.
Dunlap belted a solo home run in the top of the first inning to give the visitors a 1-0 lead, but the lead did not last long.
The Crusaders plated three runs in the bottom half of the inning and never surrendered the lead. Daley plated a run with a double, and McComb scored a pair with a double of her own to give the Crusaders a 3-1 advantage.
Capaldi plated a run in the second with a single to make the score 4-1.
In the third, Nameth cut the Huskies' deficit to two with a solo home run of her own, but once again the Crusaders answered in the bottom half of the inning when Daley launched a home run over the fence making the score 5-2.
In the fourth, Capaldi plated her second run of the game on a groundout that was hit out in front of the plate. Brittany Bertoia, who never stopped running, scored from second on the play to increase the Blue-and-Gold's lead to 6-2.
The Huskies closed the gap in the fifth. Nameth plated her second run of the day - this time on an RBI single - to pull Harrison to a three-run disadvantage.
McComb blasted a solo shot of her own in the fifth enabling Catholic Central to regain a four-run advantage at 7-3.
"We are battling to get into the top four in the OVAC," DiCarlo said. "When you win, you gain confidence. When you beat good teams, you build on that confidence.
Harrison Central is scheduled to play a doubleheader starting at noon Saturday at home against Buckeye Trail.
"It's not the end of the world," Bethel said. "We have to regroup."
The Crusaders are slated to play two games Monday. Catholic Central will play city-rival Big Red at 1:30 p.m. at Franciscan University before returning to the field to play at 5 p.m. at home against Oak Glen.
"It's going to be a tough Monday," DiCarlo said.
Catholic Central 7, Harrison Central 3
Harrison Central 101 010 0 - 3 5 1
Catholic Central 311 110 x - 7 10 3
HARRISON CENTRAL: Ellzy (LP, 8K, 2BB) and Saffel ; Nameth S, HR, 2RBI; Dunlap HR, RBI; Ellzy S; Heavlin S.
CATHOLIC CENTRAL: McComb (WP, 4K, 1BB) and Daley; S. Mirabella S; F. Capaldi 2S, 2RBI; McComb, S, D, HR, 3RBI; Lloyd S; M. Mirabella S; Daley D, HR, 2RBI.