WHEELING - Alexis Christakis struck out the last four batters she faced to put the finishing touches on Wheeling Central's 9-2, rain-delayed victory against previously undefeated Steubenville Catholic Central in the Ohio Valley Athletic Class AA softball semifinals.
The game, which was halted in the top of the sixth inning Tuesday by rain and wet grounds at the Chambers' I-470 Complex was moved to Belle Isle Park to be completed Wednesday.
By halting the Crusaders' 11-game winning streak, Coach Rick Magruder's Maroon Knights qualified for Saturday's Class AA finals against either Barnesville or Fort Frye.
Those two teams were also scheduled to play Tuesday but had their contest rained out and reset for 6:45 tonight, also on Lisa's Field at the I-470 site.
Christakis, Central's four-year pitching vet, limited Steubenville Catholic to seven hits, all singles, while issuing one walk. Half of her eight strikeouts occurred after play was resumed Wednesday.
She went to the circle in the bottom of the sixth and retired Lacey Murphy on a sharp line drive snagged by Brittany Miller at shortstop. After hitting Paige Creamer with a pitch, Christakis got Kayla Lloyd on a popper to Miller and then began her string of four strikeouts in a row by fanning Sara Maziejko, who had touched the Knights ace for an RBI single earlier in the game.
''Alexis finished strong, which was nice to see,'' Magruder said after Central improved its record to 10-5. ''We were debating whether to bring her back or go with Taylor Whorton. But I thought, 'hey she pitched well yesterday, let her finish the game.' ''
The Knights' nine-hit attack against Steubenville Catholic's Creamer also saw Christakis get very much into the act with her single, double and two RBI. Miller singled and doubled, driving in one run, while Bri Robbins collectd two RBI with a single, double and sacrifice fly.
Mandy Gulan and Maziejko had the RBI hits for the Crusaders.
''We are playing with a lot more focus right now and showing very good patience at the plate,'' Magruder said in explaining Central's nine-out-of-10 victory run after starting the season 1-4. ''Early in the year we were swinging at everything. Our kids have to remain focused because we have a tough challenge ahead of us when we get to tournament time. The teams in our sectional and regional are very strong.''
Jim DiCarlo, coach of the Crusaders, felt his team gave a good effort in the OVAC contest despite the lop sided score.
''When we resumed play, Lacey ripped the ball pretty good and they caught it. I thought we hit the ball hard both days but everything was right at them.
''Central has some good athletes, so give them all the credit. Our kids kept battling and never gave up. ''(Tuesday) we didn't make some plays we usually make, but the wind was pretty nasty up on the hill. No excuses, though, Central played very well and deserved to win.''
Frontier 6, River 5
HANNIBAL - Frontier's Heather Ogaz drove in two runs to edge River.
Lindsay Goddard hit a single, home run and three RBI. Losing pitcher Gabby Goudy struck out seven, hit a single, double, and an RBI, while Rachel Hutchison hit a single and a double for the Pilots (8-5).
Brooke 6, Weir 3
WEIRTON - Leanne Mazzella struck out nine and Kristen Reardon got the save for Brooke.
Clarissa Kowalczyk rapped a double and knocked in a run for the Bruins, while Katie O'Connell had two hits.
Ashlin Drizake plated a run for the Red Riders.
Union Local 0
MORRISTOWN - Brooke Carroll twirled a complete game two-hitter as Steubenville blanked Union Local.
Carroll fanned eight, while aided her own cause with two RBI.
Terri Lynn Wolfe was a triple short of the cycle for Big Red, while Christina Archer and Abby Taylor tripled and doubled, respectively.
Edison 11, Beaver Local 0
RICHMOND - Zoey Westfall tossed a two-hitter and Molly McCoy homered and drove in four for Edison.
Trisha Trifonoff added two singles, a double and three RBI for the Wildcats (9-2).