WHEELING -- Looking for inspiration, trailing by one entering the seventh inning of an OVAC 4A semifinal softball game, Steubenville head coach Gus DiMarzio did the best thing he could for his team.
He kept his mouth shut.
"I didn't even talk to them," DiMarzio said. "I let my six seniors talk to the team and that fired them up."
READY TO GO — Steubenville’s Sierra Fields prepares to lead off third base during Thursday’s 6-4 win over Martins Ferry in the OVAC?Class 4A softball semifinals at the I-470 Youth Sports Complex.
-- Matthew Peaslee
The fire in the dugout translated to three runs on the field as Big Red rallied to top Martins Ferry, 6-4, at the I-470 Youth Sports Complex on Thursday.
"We've battled all year," DiMarzio said. "They fought and exemplified what Big Red is all about. We have great leadership. Our kids keep believing and it came down to who wanted it more.
"I think we wanted it and it showed. We won."
Steubenville (6-7) collected two straight hits from Tenia Barker and Sierra Fields to lead off the top of the seventh inning. Nauja Banks walked to set the stage for Mytia Barker.
Barker, a senior, came through in the fifth inning with a two-run single allowing Big Red to tie the game at 3. This time around, she tied it again - at 4 - with a fielder's choice to the shortstop that scored her sister, Tenia.
"Mytia is one of the coolest hitters I've ever seen in my life," DiMarzio said. "She takes pitches, she gets deep in the count and she knows what she wants to do.
"I wouldn't trade her for anything in the world. I've been telling her for the longest time that I thought that she was one of the best players in the Valley and I believe that. She showed it in this big game, too."
The next batter, Rhiannon Petrisko, ripped a single up the middle that scored two and ensured the victory.
"They were finding those holes," said Martins Ferry head coach Paige Williams.
Steubenville struck first with a Fields' RBI single in the third inning. The Purple Riders (11-5) answered right back, though, with a run in the bottom half on Mercedez McLeod's single.
"They got on us first and we came back, but they never quit," Williams said. "We've been playing this kind of game all year - small ball and big hits, every so often."
Katie Sutherland and Krissy Hotlosz each scored in the fourth for Martins Ferry, while Shaye DeLenardis came around in the fifth on Hotlosz's squeeze bunt.
"This loss hurts because the (the OVAC championship) was one of our goals," Williams said. "This is disappointing and I told the girls that they never want to feel this way again.
"We had the team to do it and we had the talent to do it. I guess today just wasn't our day."
But it was for Big Red, which totaled 11 hits. Tenia Barker finished with three singles, while Fields and Mytia Barker each had two.
Hanna Westlake started on the mound for Steubenville, but Hayley Stamps took over with one out and one on in the fourth. She struck out the next batter and got the next to fly to right field, ending the Rider rally.
Stamps allowed one run on three hits the rest of the way and struck out three.
"Hanna started and battled for us," DiMarzio said. "She won three games in a row for us while Hayley was hurt a week ago.
'We the give Hayley the opportunity to shut it down and that's exactly what she did."
Big Red now advances to its first OVAC title game in school history.
"This is big for our program," DiMarzio said. "It's big for our girls. They know what it takes to win, because a lot of them have OVAC championship experience by playing basketball.
"I just have to tip my hat to my seniors. They were outstanding."
Steubenville 6, Martins Ferry 4
Steubenville 001 020 3 - 6 11 2
Martins Ferry 001 210 0 - 4 12 2
STEUBENVILLE: Westlake (0K, 0W), Stamps (4, WP 3K, 0W) and M. Barker; T. Barker 3S; Fields 2S, rbi; M. Barker 2S, 2rbi; Petrisko S, 2rbi
MARTINS FERRY: DeLeonardis (LP 2K, 1W) and Hotlosz; Monroe D; McLeod D, rbi; DeLeonardis 3S; Sutherland 2S; Hotlosz 2S, RBI.