WEIRTON - Rivalry games tend to bring out the best in the opponents.
That was the case Wednesday as the Wheeling Central softball team jumped out to an 8-0 lead en route to an 8-3 victory over Madonna at Starvaggi Park.
So far, the Maroon Knights have been the busier of the two teams. With the win, Wheeling Central improved to 8-1. The loss evened the Blue Dons' record at 2-2.
"Wheeling Central is a good-hitting team," veteran Madonna head coach Chris Conti said. "They hit the ball well.
"I am proud of my girls. They never gave up. They hit the ball and battled back.
"This was the first time we have been on our own field. They played good defense. Wheeling Central was able to hit some balls into the gaps. I am not disappointed. The more we play the better we will get."
The Maroon Knights plated runs in each of the first four innings en route to building an 8-0 advantage heading into the bottom of the fourth.
"We jumped on them early," Wheeling Central head coach Rick Magruder said. "They are a young team. Chris does a good job.
"We are hitting the ball well. We are putting the ball in play. We are making things happen."
Sarah Henry recorded the win. She struck out eight and walked one.
Individually, Joni Zavolta tallied two singles and a triple, Cara Stahl and Sydney Bennington each belted a single and a double and Vanessa Saseen ended up with a double. Also, Ashley Gast and Cassidy McCord each delivered two singles, and Allie Cook collected a base hit.
"Sarah pitched well," Magruder said. "I was happy with how our young girls hit the ball. Our top three batters - Zavolta, Stahl and Cook - have all been consistent.
"We have some young girls on the team. We were able to play a lot of kids. It is a long season. Hopefully, it gets warmer."
Amanda Pulice took the loss for the Blue Dons. Pulice struck out one and walked one.
Emily Pietranton produced three singles, Amanda Paul tallied two singles and Aubrey Platek collected a base hit.
"Rick and Ambrose do a good job," Conti said. "They are good coaches. It is always a nice game whenever we play them. They are good competitive games."
Despite the eight-run deficit, the Blue Dons refused to go away quietly into the night. Madonna battled back to score three runs in the bottom of the fourth to pull within 8-3.
"It is a good rivalry," Magruder said. "It's not like we hate each other. Their girls play hard. They are well coached. You can't take them lightly."
Wheeling Central 8, Weirton Madonna 3
Wheeling Central 421 100 0 - 8 13 1
Madonna 000 300 0 - 3 6 3
WHEELING CENTRAL: Henry (WP, 8K, 1BB) and Visnick; Zavalta 2S, T; Stahl D, S; Cook S; Gast 2S; Bennington S, D; Saseen D; McCord 2S.
WEIRTON MADONNA (2-2): Pulice (LP, 1K, 1BB) and Magnone; Pietranton 3S; Paul 2S; Platek S.