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SOFTBALL: Magnolia Blanks Fort Frye

Tharp’s three-hitter bolsters Blue Eagles

April 20, 2012
By TRACY WATSON , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

NEW MARTINSVILLE - There is no question the week has been a successful one in the victory column for Magnolia's softball team.

Mentally it has the possibilities of being even more.

Coach Mark Batton's team began play Monday with a comfortable lead in the OVAC Class 3A standings, which become official after today's games, and beat Martins Ferry earlier in the week, the team that is currently fourth.

Friday afternoon, the Blue Eagles got the opportunity to play the team nestled directly behind them, powerful Fort Frye, in a doubleheader at Hydro Field.

And if the early returns mean anything, things are looking bright for Big Blue.

Sophomore Mallory Chapman and senior Tori Tharp combined for five of Magnolia's seven hits and Tharp allowed just three singles, as the Blue Eagles soared to a 4-0 victory against the Cadets in the first game.

Magnolia also won the nightcap, 9-1.

Batton's squad, which is scheduled to play at Martins Ferry today, improved to 22-3, while Barbara Sleek watched her Fort Frye unit fall to 13-5.

While Tharp and the Cadets' Victoria Mimken were both solid in the circle, Magnolia was able to string solo runs in each of the first three frames together to take control.

The Blue Eagles used a two-out Chapman double followed by Tharp's run-scoring single to take a 1-0 lead in the first before manufacturing a run in the second. Jordan Babe led off with a double to right, went to third on a sacrifice bunt and crossed the dish on an error to make it a 2-0 count.

Chapman handled things herself in the third, drilling a 1-2 pitch deep over the right-center field fence to push the margin to a comfortable three-run lead.

It was the dynamic duo teaming up again in the sixth as Chapman laced a double to deep left to lead off the inning and Tharp followed with a two-bagger to center to chase her home with the game's final run.

"I think the biggest thing was getting some hits when we needed them, which is something we haven't been doing the last couple of games," Batton said. "We have been leaving too many on base, and I was glad w got that worked out (Friday).

"We always stress putting the ball in play and making things happen and we did a nice job of that. And Mallory really came up big for us at the plate. As far as Tori goes, she just does such a great job with location. She was so good working the inside and outside of the plate and she stayed ahead in the count and didn't groove any pitches.

"This is another big win for us, Fort Frye has such a great program and this is the first time we have scheduled them, but we will go down there for two next season."

All of the hits Tharp allowed came in the fifth inning with none doing any damage. She struck out seven and waled one.

Sleek, meanwhile, was not pleased with her team's performance against a quality opponent.

"We just plain left our bats at home," she said. "This was a big trip, a big game, a big battle for us and we just didn't show up to play. Magnolia is a very good team and we expected a pitcher's duel, but they hit the ball.

"It was very uncharacteristic for our pitcher to make the mistakes she did, throwing them a lot of good pitches to hit with. Those are things she hasn't done all season long, but maybe the competition is the difference.

"But we just have to play smarter. It has been both ends of the spectrum the last few days, just two games ago we had 15 hits in the first inning and (Friday) we get nothing. Hopefully we are just in a funk. That definitely wasn't our normal type of game."

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