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Prep Softball: Absalom, Irish Hand Shadyside Its First Loss

April 9, 2013
By KIM NORTH , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

SHADYSIDE - Something had to give Monday afternoon at the Mead Township Complex as a 'Meetin' of the Unbeatens' unfolded.

When the dust - and there was a lot of it flying around in the swirling winds - had finally settled, St. John Central improved to 8-0 with a had 3-1, victory against Division IV sectional rival Shadyside in softball action.

Junior Hanna Absalom fired a one-hit gem and the Irish scored twice in the fourth and once in the sixth to take a 3-0 advantage before the Tigers (3-1) scored late.

"Everyone on this team contributed (Monday) in one way or another," veteran St. John Central coach Jerry Magistro said.

Absalom struck out a dozen and walked only one - the very first hitter she faced - in raising her personal record to 7-0. The lone Tigers' run was the first earned run the right-hander had allowed this season in 79 innings of work.

"Hanna was Hanna again," allowed Magistro. "When she's on like she was (Monday), she's pretty tough to hit."

Shadyside coach Jillian Ongley agreed.

"We just couldn't get her timed up," Ongley said. "That's been a problem of ours in the early going, but we just couldn't get to her."

Absalom walked Alicia Gulley to start the first, and she stole second. However, Gulley got no further as the Irish ace mowed down the side on strikes.

That started a streak of 15 straight Tigers that were retired - 10 on strikeouts - until Sarah Dierkes ripped a clean double down the left-field line to start the bottom of the sixth. She eventually crossed the plate on a Gulley groundout.

St. John Central left the bases loaded in the second against Shadyside ace Megan Heagney, who wiggled out of the jam by striking out a pair of batters.

However, she walked Caitlin Sliva to open the fourth. A wild pitch moved Sliva to second, and she raced to third on a comebacker to the circle. Kristen Russell's smash to the right side of the infield found a hole as Sliva touched the plate. Amber LaMotte drew a base-on-balls, and both executed a double steal. A groundout by Cheyenne Harris scored Russell to make it 2-0.

Kaydie Coppa doubled to left to start the fifth and went to third on a wild pitch by Heagney, who didn't have her best control. Morgan DeLuca then lined a one-out single to left to make it 3-0.

"There were two good pitchers out there," added Magistro, "but I thought we made more contact than they did. Some of our better hits were caught because they got held up in the wind. We had some nice shots, ran the bases pretty well and executed on our bunts."

Each team turned in a web gem as Russell, the Irish shortstop, left her feet to snag a soft liner off the bat of Angelina McKeever in the fourth. The Tigers' Shelby Benedetta ran down a drive to right-center by Sliva in the fifth.

Coppa, Absalom and Sliva all doubled for SJC.

Heagney struck out six and walked four. She yielded five hits.

"Megan got a little frustrated and down on herself there at one point," Ongley said, "but she'll come back (today) and get after it again."

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