STEUBENVILLE - In a matchup of two of the top softball teams in the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference, John Marshall took it to Catholic Central, 17-1, in six innings Tuesday at the Steve Zamana Softball Field.
Led by a hard-hitting offense and dominant pitching performance, the Monarchs (23-3) raced out to a 9-0 lead and did not look back to win their 17th straight game.
John Marshall pounded out 13 hits, as the visitors from Marshall County scored at least one run in each of the first four innings. The victors sealed the deal with an eight-run sixth inning.
In the circle, senior Amy Rotriga recorded 16 strikeouts while walking three in picking up the victory. She allowed one run on just two hits.
"John Marshall is a very talented team, and they have a very talented pitcher," Catholic Central head coach Jim DiCarlo said. "Sometimes you are going to have days like that. I think our guys will rebound. When we haven't played well, our guys have shown a lot of resiliency. When we don't play well, I think it makes us play a little bit better and tougher in our next game.
"Other than that, give John Marshall credit. They hit the ball well. We didn't play good defense. Rotriga did a good job against us, especially in the first three innings."
The Crusaders (12-2) struggled to make contact against Rotriga. After a walk to start the game, she struck out the next 11 batters. Nine of the 10 girls who stepped to the plate for Catholic Central struck out at least one time, five girls struck out two times and one struck out three times.
"We got on kind of a roll," John Marshall head coach Ed West said. "Our pitcher, Amy, is tough. She was very effective today. She has an ERA of less than 1, which is very, very good. I am pleased with how we hit the ball and with the outcome."
Offensively for John Marshall, Kylie Howard delivered a single and a two-run home run, Hannah Rogerson recorded a three-run double and Athena Sayrie tallied two singles and two RBIs. Also, Alexa Jones ended up with a single, double and two RBIs, Alyssa George added an RBI double and Rotriga helped her own cause with a double. Finally, Kristen Lewicki collected two singles and an RBI, Abbi Namath and Morgan Vucelik each picked up base hits and Jazmine Keller contributed an RBI.
Alex McComb took the loss, her first of the season. McComb recorded three strikeouts and three walks in her five innings.
Tori Knight pitched the sixth, and she walked two while not recording a strikeout.
Maddy Gulan did all of the damage offensively for the hosts. She belted a solo home run and a single to account for both of her team's hits. Gulan's home run came in the fourth inning snapping Rotriga's streak of 11-straight strikeouts.
The Monarchs scored four runs in the top of the first inning, and they added a run in the second and one in the third before plating three in the fourth to go up 9-0. Gulan's shot to left-center made the score 9-1 in the bottom of the fourth.
"We have played some real good games in the past," West said. "Two years ago, we played a one-run game here, and it was a fairly close game last year. Catholic Central always has a nice team.
"They have a nice program."
Both teams take to the road next. Catholic Central will play at Magnolia at 5 p.m. today, while John Marshall will play at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Buckeye Local.
"This is the kind of game that will make you tougher," DiCarlo said. "Playing these games will help us when we get into the OVACs and our tournament games. It will help us when we play teams our caliber and our size.
"I'd rather play these games than beat some team 15-0 who isn't really good. That is not going to help us.
"Games like this make us tougher."
John Marshall 17, Catholic Central 1
John Marshall 411 308 - 17 13 1
Catholic Central 000 100 - 1 2 7
JOHN MARSHALL (23-3): Rotriga (WP, 16K, 3BB) and Lewicki; Rotriga D; Rogerson D, 3 RBI; Vucelik S; Jones S, D, 2RBI; Keller RBI; Lewicki RBI; Howard S, HR, 2 RBI; George D, RBI; Namath S; Sayrie 2S, 2 RBI.
CATHOLIC CENTRAL (11-2): McComb (LP, 5IP, 3K, 3BB), Knight (1IP, 0K, 2BB) and Daley; Gulan S, HR, RBI.