SHADYSIDE - Steubenville Catholic Central against Shadyside always seems to be one of the premier matchups on the Ohio Valley prep softball calendar.
Wednesday afternoon's tilt at the Shadyside Junior Sports Complex offered more proof why.
Ashlynne Daley bunted in a run, Alex McCombs tossed a four-hitter and the defense took care of the rest as the Crusaders blanked the Tigers, 2-0.
The victory solidified SCC's position in the OVAC Class 3A Tournament field. Saturday is the cutoff to make the four-team playoff and Coach Jim DiCarlo's squad (10-3) entered the week in third place.
''These were two good, evenly-matched teams,'' DiCarlo said. ''Fortunately, for us, we came out on top.''
Meanwhile, Shadyside fell to 6-7 making it's road a bit tougher to jump into the crowded Class 2A field.
''We're actually proud of them,'' Shadyside head coach Jillian Ongley said after speaking with her team in the outfield. ''We have a couple of games left this week we have to win and, if we play like we did (Wednesday), we shouldn't have any problem doing so.''
Both teams return to action today - Shadyside at Barnesville and Steubenville Catholic against city rival Big Red.
To no one's surprise, Wednesday's starting pitchers were stout, meaning hits and runs were at a premium. It was the type of game both coaches expected.
''She's a really good pitcher,'' DiCarlo said of the Tigers' Megan Heagney, who allowed three hits and struck out seven.
''We knew we'd have a hard time scoring a few. We knew we'd have to try and make things happen and I'm glad we were able to capitalize on a couple of opportunities.''
The first scoring chance for the Crusaders came in the third. With one out, leadoff batter Micca Mirabella slapped an infield single. Immediately after reaching first the senior stole second.
Moments later, with Fran Capaldi at the plate, Mirabella raced toward third. Shadyside catcher Lindsey Dunn rifled a throw to third, but the ball made its way into the outfield and Mirabella raced home with the game's first run.
''She's set a school record in stolen bases and she's a wonderful base runner,'' DiCarlo said of the play. ''We try to take advantage of her speed whenever we can. It's hard to do against them because (Heagney) throws hard and she has a good arm.
''Sometimes you have to gamble and be aggressive in a game like this.''
The Tigers looked primed to even things up in the bottom of the third.
Bethanie Ramsey ledoff the inning by doubling to left. Next, Sam Rosser laid down a bunt. She reached first just ahead of the throw, but SCC first baseman Maddy Metcalf alertly darted a throw to third baseman Bert Bertoia and tagged Ramsey out.
Shadyside got another hit in the inning, but was unable to plate the tying run.
''One little thing here or there can always make a difference,'' Ongley said.
From there, McCombs was stifling, limiting the Tigers to one hit. She finished with three Ks and one walk. Karly Klug finished with two hits for the Tigers.
Her teammates provided her with an insurance run in the sixth when Daley bunted home pinch runner Emily Sepik from third.
''That was a suicide and (Ash) did a wonderful job of getting it down fair right where we wanted it,'' DiCarlo said. ''We knew one more run right there would be a positive.
''We needed to make a few things happen and that proved to be the difference.''
Central 2, Shadyside 0
Central 001 001 0 2 2 2
Shadyside 000 000 0 0 4 2
CENTRAL: McComb (WP 3K, 1BB) and Daley. M. Mirabella S; Gulan S; Daley RBI.
SHADYSIDE: Heagney (LP 7K, 3BB) and Dunn. Clugg 2S; Heath S; Ramsey D.