WHEELING - Normally, Wheeling Central and Linsly is a rivalry that no matter what the sport you know there will be great intensity and you can throw the records out the window.
Thursday, however, Coach Rick Magruder's Maroon Knights softball team took the wind out of the Cadets' sails early, sending 17 batters to the plate and pushing across 12 runs in the top of the first inning to all but take the life and intensity out of Linsly.
Sophomore Sydney Bennington belted a monstrous, three-run homer and Ashley Gast singled, doubled and plated three as well in the first, while Sarah Henry allowed one hit as Wheeling Central took care of business quickly in a 13-0, three-inning demolition of the Cadets at Holloway Field.
Magruder's squad improves to 12-3 heading into a big weekend in Martinsburg with a pair of games today against the Bulldogs and two more Saturday against Washington High School. Meanwhile, first-year coach Amanda Smith watched her winless squad fall for the 10th time.
''This is the type of game that you get to play a lot of younger girls and see their potential in game situations,'' Magruder said.
A pair of walks and Gast's first hit, a run-scoring single, got the Knights moving early. Bennington then followed with a towering shot well over the left-field fence that pushed the margin to 4-0. Number 8 and 9 hitters Vanessa Saseen and Jordyn Smith each collected RBI doubles while Gast and Henry added two-run doubles later in the frame.
The dejected Cadets managed a second-inning single by Karyn Kovalik.
''We have really been hitting the ball pretty decent lately,'' Magruder added. ''I told the girls to try and go get on them early and they definitely did that. I know Linsly is down a little bit this year, but it is nice as a team to get a few wins like this. You really just hate to see it happen to someone like them.''
As for Smith, she knew what her team was getting into, but there was little it could do about it.
''We knew Wheeling Central has good hitters, they always do,'' Smith said. ''And we knew they would have strong at-bats, but we really didn't expect it to go the way it did, especially not that quickly. It has been a hard, rough season so far, but we are better than that.
''It is really difficult to get anything going with our only senior starter out with an injury and our catcher out also. And it doesn't help that our top five hitters from last year are gone. But we will continue to rebuild and work hard to set a good foundation for the future.