WHEELING - With the OVAC Tournament right around the corner, Wheeling Central looks to be hitting its stride at the perfect time.
An energized Maroon Knights squad took the Lisa's Field diamond for Senior Day against rival Linsly and made quick work of the Cadets with a 10-0, three-inning victory Thursday. It was the ninth straight victory for Coach Rick Magruder's club, which sits in second place in the Class 2A standings.
''We came ready to play,'' Magruder said. ''I thought we had a few mistakes, but we had some nice hits. Brit (Miller) pitched well those first two innings and once we got the lead, we put in some of the younger players and let them get some time.
Linsly shortstop Emma Cecil prepares to make a throw during Thursday’s game against Wheeling Central.
Photo by Josh Strope
''Couple of them had some nice hits and Shelby Main came up with a nice catch in right. These kids did what they had to do and made it quick.''
Wheeling Central (14-7) jumped all over Linsly pitcher Katie Smith in the first inning, scoring eight runs to put the Cadets (7-12) in an early hole.
Joni Zavolta started with a single and came around a few pitches later on a Bri Robbins double to the wall.
Ashley Gast and Laken Visnick added RBI singles as Wheeling Central batted around.
With two outs and the Maroon Knights in front 5-0, Linsly had a chance to end the bleeding when Meg Griffin struck out.
Linsly catcher Danielle Muster didn't come up with the ball cleanly and Griffin hustled down to first base. The bases were loaded and a confused Muster could have stepped on home to end the inning. Instead, Miller trotted home and Wheeling Central kept the inning alive.
Wheeling Central made Linsly pay for the error as Zavolta earned her second hit of the inning with an opposite-field, bases-clearing triple.
Robbins singled her in and Wheeling Central was up 8-0. Cara Stahl recorded an RBI single in the second inning, as Magruder went to his bench.
Main reached on a single to start the third inning and, after taking second on a wild pitch, thought she ended the game when Bri Robbins singled her in.
Instead, Linsly coach Darryl Crews told Muster to step on home and Main was called out for missing the plate. That was about the only thing that went wrong for the Maroon Knights and just prolonged the game for three more pitches.
Robbins took second on the throw to home, went to third on a wild pitch and scored the real game-winner on a Madison Basinger RBI groundout.
Miller and Basinger combined on the shutout, allowing two hits - singles by Emma Cecil and Julia Bird.
''The three seniors are all good kids and all work hard,'' Magruder said.
''I could tell Bri was ready in practice. She was hitting the ball hard and she had a couple nice plays in center. They were definitely ready.''
Crews was pleased with his young team's effort, but also knows you can't get behind big to a team like Wheeling Central.
''We had a very poor first inning and they are too good of a team to give extra outs to,'' he said. ''After that, we were playing pretty decent and hit the ball hard, but Wheeling Central made the plays.''