STEUBENVILLE - The deficit was too big to overcome.
The Panthers raced out to an early 7-0 lead, and despite a big rally by Big Red the Buckeye Local softball team was able to hold on for the 9-8 win Wednesday at Franciscan University.
The Panthers (14-10) led 9-5 entering the bottom of the seventh, and Buckeye Local was finally able to seal the deal with a strikeout with a runner on third base after Big Red (10-14) tallied three runs in the stanza.
OUT AT HOME — Buckeye Local’s Lauren Swiger is tagged out at home by Big Red pitcher?Anna Perrino.
-- Fred Younce
Buckeye Local head coach Joe Soos said the game turned out to be more exciting than he had hoped.
"Absolutely," he said. "We are the cardiac kids. It has been that way all year. It's been like a roller coaster all year going up and down. You never know which group is going to show up, but when the right group shows up we do well.
"Give Steubenville credit. They made some nice plays. They put the ball in play. Give them credit for hanging in there. When you are down six runs early in the game, it is easy to lose focus, but they didn't. They hung in there. They are a good team."
Big Red's rough start proved to be too much for the Red-and-Black to overcome in the end.
"That is now two nights in a row," Big Red head coach Gus DiMarzio said. "We have given up 10 runs in the first inning in the last two games. We tried to fight back and find a way, but we were one run short.
"It's a tough week. We played St. Clairsville which reached the semifinals in the OVAC Tournament. They are a good team. Then, we played the best team in the Valley in Catholic Central. They are 20-4. They are well coached. Their kids play hard. They are disciplined. They are always moving. They know what to do, and they do it. Today, we played the 4A champions.
"They are well coached. They don't make mistakes. They field the ball.
"We will get better. I know there is not a lot of time left in the season, but we will get better."
Ivy Starcher recorded the win for the Panthers. Starcher recorded three strikeouts and four walks in her five innings of work inside the circle in relief of starter Ashley Trouten.
Kierstyn Czuchran contributed a single, a double and a triple resulting in three RBI. Lauren Swinger recorded a run-scoring single and a run-scoring triple, Amy Balk belted a two-run single and Becky Zeroski tallied a two-run triple.
Brooke Carroll took the loss for Big Red. She was replaced after one batter in the top of the second by Anna Perrino. Perrino, who pitched the rest of the way, struck out six while not walking a batter.
Offensively, Big Red nearly doubled up Buckeye Local in the hit department as the hosts ended up with 13 hits.
Tenia Barker recorded a two-run single and a two-run double, Abby Taylor tallied three singles and an RBI, and Brittany Bodo collected two singles and an RBI.
Trailing 9-5 entering the bottom of the seventh, Tenia Barker plated two runs with a single to left field. With one out Giannamore plated a run with a groundout to third making it 9-8.
But, that was it.
Buckeye Local opened the game by scoring six runs in the top of the first inning.
Czuchran plated two runs with a base hit giving the Panthers a 2-0 lead. Later, Balk singled home two runs with a single increasing the visitors lead to 4-0. Finally, Zeroski tripled home two runs on a ball hit to the gap in right-center making the score 6-0.
The Panthers added to their lead with a run in the second inning. Czuchran reached on a double, and she scored on a Swiger single making the score 7-0.
"We hit the ball better today," Soos said. "Our bats have been a little cool. They came alive a little bit today. It helps when you score nine runs. Hopefully, we can keep it going. We have our sectional game Monday against Edison out at Jefferson Lake. We have a couple of games in between."
Big Red began its comeback with three runs in the bottom half of the inning.
Gray, Bodo and Taylor all singled to load the bases, before Tenia Barker recorded a two-run double to pull Big Red to within 7-2. Next, Biasi tallied an RBI on a groundout to pull Big Red to within 7-3.
Buckeye Local added to its lead with a run in the top of the fifth. Czuchran scored on a double by Swiger.
Big Red bounced back with two runs in the bottom half of the inning to pull closer at 8-5. With two outs, Bodo and Taylor tallied run-scoring singles.
The Panthers plated what proved to be a much-needed insurance run in the sixth. With two outs, Rachel Zeroksi scored on a triple by Czuchran to give Buckeye Local a 9-5 lead.
Buckeye Local 9, Big Red 8
Buckeye Local 610 011 0 - 9 7 2
Big Red 030 020 3 - 8 13 1
BUCKEYE LOCAL (14-10): Starcher (WP, 5IP, 3K, 4BB), Trouten (2IP, 0K, 1BB) and B. Zeroski; Czuchran S, D, T, 3 RBI; Swiger S, T, 2 RBI; Balk S, 2 RBI; B. Zeroski T, 2 RBI.
BIG RED (10-14): Carroll (LP, 1IP, 0K, 4BB), Perrino (6IP, 6K, 0BB) and M. Barker; T. Barker S, D, 4 RBI; Biasi S, RBI; Giannamore S, RBI; Gentile S; M. Barker S; Gray S; Archer S; Bodo 2-S, RBI; Taylor 3-1B, RBI.