ASHLAND - Cinderella's glass slipper fit just fine for four innings Thursday night as Martins Ferry stood toe-to-toe with state-ranked Milan Edison in girls' Division III regional softball tournament action.
However, the famed slipper cracked a little in the fifth inning when the No. 3-ranked Chargers (29-1) scored four runs. It was then totally shattered, as were the Purple Riders upset dreams, when the designated visitors lit up the Brookside Park scoreboard nine times in the sixth en route to a 13-0 victory in six innings.
The loss marked the second time in three seasons that Martins Ferry has had its season come to a halt in the regional semifinals, as it fell 4-0 in 2010 to Bloomdale Elmwood.
"I couldn't be any prouder of a group of girls," third-year Martins Ferry coach Paige Williams said. "For four innings, we gave them all we had."
Indeed the Purple Gang did.
Defensively, Martins Ferry's infield made a couple of big plays behind senior hurler Cirstie Delguzzo in the first four frames, but a pair of errors in the fifth inning got the ball rolling for the Chargers, who won for the 21st straight time.
Tasha Lonabarger led off with smash off the glove of Morgan Stalder.
After Karlie Allison drew the only free pass surrendered by Delguzzo, No. 9 hitter Michelle Johnston bunted back to the mound.
Delguzzo, who had fielded her position flawlessly on two previous attempts, picked up the ball, wheeled and threw to third, but the throw was a little off target and rolled down the left-field line as pinch runner Chelsea Imus raced home with the first run of the game.
Delguzzo then fanned Kristin McCarthy before Karyn Schmidt reached on a two-out fielder's choice. Two pitches later, freshman Gabby Stoll drove an 0-1 pitch over the fence in right-center for a 4-0 bulge.
Stoll connected again the the nine-run explosion, socking another three-run bomb. That was one of three hit in the inning as the Chargers put a charge into the ball.
All-Ohioan Kaylee Fox drilled a two-run home run, while Madison Cheek had a solo shot. Johnston added a two-run single.
"Their pitcher had kind of a funky motion, and when you haven't seen it before, it takes you a little while before you get used to it," Milan Edison's Dale Dawson said. "We told the girls after the first go-round, forget about the delivery and focus on the ball."
That the Chargers did as they collected 13 hits, six of which went for extra bases.
All the while, Division I recruit Susan Knight was working her magic on the mound. The Cleveland State signee faced the minimum number of batters, allowing just Addie Suriano's bunt single with one out in the fourth. However, Suriano was doubled up on a hit-and-run popup in the infield.
Knight finished with five strikeouts and only allowed three balls out of the infield, all routine fly balls to right.
"Nobody expected us to be here," Williams said. "But these girls battled all season long. We've got three seniors that we really will miss, but we've got a group nucleus of girls coming back and some good younger kids coming up."
Milan Edison will face Archbold for the right to advance to the state tournament. That game is at noon Saturday in Ashland.