WHEELING -Hannah Absalom wasn't perfect, but she was darn close to it Saturday afternoon.
The hard-throwing right-hander tossed her second consecutive no-hitter as No. 1 seed St. John Central (18-2) defended its OVAC Class A championship with an 8-0 beating of second-seeded Bishop Donahue on Lisa's Field.
She whiffed 10 and missed a perfect game with a fourth-inning leadoff walk to Tess Fallova, who was erased when a bunt attempt turned into a double play. Megan Rush popped up the attempt and Morgan DeLuca sprung out from behind the plate to snag the ball. She then spun and fired a strike to Sydney Helms at first to complete the twin-killing.
St. John pitcher Hannah Absalom works against Bishop Donahue.
"What can you say about Hannah?" veteran St. John Central skipper Jerry Magistro asked. "She deserves everything she gets because she's a nice kid who works very hard."
Absalom, who now has four no-hitters this season and seven for her career, seemed unphased by all of the attention she's been receiving.
According to most softball guru's Saturday, Absalom might have become the first pitcher to author back-to-back no-nos in an OVAC semifinal and championship game in the same season.
"Awesome," she said when informed of that. "It feels really good. All of my pitches were working."
Bishop Donahue coach Curt Mele was also impressed with Absalom's performance.
''She's a fabulous pitcher and had everything going for her," he said. "We just ran into a buzz-saw."
With the victory, St. John Central recorded its ninth OVAC softball crown. John Marshall also has nine, while the Bishops total 13, one more than Wheeling Central.
"It never gets old when you win championships," Magistro said with a smile. "The valley is big on OVACs and it's nice when your kids can put themselves in place to win an OVAC championship.
"Winning an OVAC title is always one of our goals, but it's not our only goal," stressed Magistro, who won his 250th game earlier in the season. "It's one of them. Getting to play against teams from West Virginia makes it even more special to win an OVAC title."
With Absalom working her magic inside the circle, the Irish led 1-0 before posting five runs in the bottom of the fourth to take a commanding 6-0 advantage.
Kylee Falcone, the Irish's No. 9 hitter, was hit-by-a-pitch with one out and Kaydie Coppa walked. Absalom's bloop single to shallow right-center plated Falcone to make it 2-0. Morgan DeLuca reached on an error as Coppa raced home. Caitlin Sliva's infield pop was mishandled as the fourth run crossed the plate. Sydney Helms' shot up the middle was too hot to handle as the fifth run of the inning scored. Kristen Russell's bouncer to third was thrown late to the plate, making it 6-0.
"That one inning cost us," Mele said. "I think we gave up four or five runs and they (St. John) only had one ball hit out of the infield."
Absalom and DeLuca had back-to-back RBI doubles in the fifth to conclude the scoring. They each finished with a single, double and two RBI. Coppa laced a trio of singles.
"I'm happy for all of my team, especially my two seniors," Magistro said of Coppa and Russell.