WHEELING - After playing nearly every day for the past few weeks, John Marshall coach Ed West sensed his team needed a breather.
The Monarchs got exactly that the last few days when Old Man Winter reared his ugly head again. But after winning 26 consecutive games, the last thing Parkersburg South (17-12) wanted to see was a well-rested JM squad in the OVAC Tournament.
The top-seeded Monarchs pounded out 21 hits and did a number on the Patriots' infield defense in posting an 11-3, six-inning triumph Tuesday in a Class 5A semifinal at Lisa's Field.
PHOTO BY RICK THORP
JM’s Kylie Howard rounds the bases past Coach Ed West after hitting a home run Tuesday.
JM (27-2) will face Indian Creek at 5:30 on Saturday for the conference crown.
''I think we were ready to play,'' West said. ''We played well on all facets of the game - good defense, good pitching, good base running - I was really pleased.''
West unintentionally left hitting out of that statement. And it was clear the time off did the Monarchs the most good in that area.
''Actually, the way we hit the ball was the way we were hitting the ball earlier this season,'' West said.
''The last few games, like three or four, we kind of slacked off a little bit. But we got our rythym back .''
The bulk of John Marshall's hits were singles. And many of those were of the infield variety. That, combined with South's shaky defensive play in the infield, spelled trouble for the folks from Wood County.
''Mistakes cost us,'' South coach Jennifer Null said. ''When you get down on yourself it's a negative spiral.
''We're better than how we played.''
The Monarchs are one of the best, if not the best, in the area at getting runners on and moving them into scoring position. Tuesday, they were at the top of their game.
''We were just our own worst enemy putting people on base,'' Null said. ''I give them credit, they are a good hitting team, but when you set them up also the timely hits come and the score goes up.''
Everyone in JM's starting lineup had a hit, with Kristin Lewicki, the team's leadoff batter, collecting five, including a triple that set up the final run.
Not only was JM's hitting machine firing on all cylinders, but ace Amy Rotriga was mowing 'em down, too.
The junior allowed two hits and struck out nine, including the side in the sixth. Both hits were homers. The first came off the bat of Katelyn Hamilton to start the game. The other, by Taylor Wittekind, came with a runner on in the third.
The focus for his team, according to West, is not the winning streak, but the OVACs and then the sectional next week.
''Not a whole lot,'' he said when asked if his team talks about the streak. ''That's nice, but the regular season is over. It's like a new season now. Everyone is equal and that's the way we're approaching it.''