Gasvoda fans 18, leads Blue Dons to Class 1A title

CELEBRATING — The Madonna softball team celebrates its OVAC Class 1A championship victory over Frontier on Saturday. (Photo by Josh Strope)

WHEELING — Katie Gasvoda struck out 18, allowing one hit. The Madonna bats broke out early. The result was a familiar one.

Madonna claimed its fourth straight OVAC Class 1A championship — and fifth overall — with an 8-1 victory against Frontier on Ben’s Field at the J.B. Chambers I-470 Complex.

“These never get old, especially when you are winning OVAC championships,” Madonna coach Chris Conti said. “The OVAC is a great conference to win a championship in. I enjoy playing in this tournament.”

The Blue Dons senior class of Gasvoda, Keara Kush, Gianna Mascio, August Adkins, Kasey Canei and Gasvoda completed a rare feat in the history of the conference in any sport: winning the title in all four seasons.

For Gasvoda, it was a point of emphasis for the team leading up Saturday’s title tilt.

“I started crying because I was so happy,” Gasvoda said. “We are undefeated in OVACs, and I am blessed to be a part of it. We think about it a lot. We want to leave our footprint and set an example for the little girls under us that you can do it.”

The Madonna bats were on fire to begin the game, scoring four runs in the first inning.

Karena Recrosio scored on a fielder’s choice to open the scoring, Jaedn Kush hit a two-run single and Keara Kush scored on a passed ball.

“Jumping on a team in the beginning, that was a big plus,” Conti said. “You score the first couple runs and they have to catch you.”

You never want to say a game is over in the first inning, but giving the ball to Gasvoda with a four-run lead is a pretty safe bet.

Gasvoda was on top of her game, mowing down Frontier batter after batter.

After allowing a two-out walk in the first inning, she got opposing pitcher Alexis Bland to whiff to end the inning. Gasvoda then struck out the side in the next two innings and seven straight.

She also struck out the side in fifth and sixth innings. Each of the first six innings ended with a strikeout.

“She did a fantastic job,” Conti said of Gasvoda. “She was zoned in from Pitch No. 1 to the last pitch of the game. She had it in her mind that she was going to win this game and she did it.”

Not that Gasvoda needed any more run support, but the Blue Dons tacked on a few more in the sixth, the big hit a two-run single by Sophia Recrosio to make it 6-0. An error allowed Run No. 7 to cross the plate.

In the seventh, Jaedn Kush crushed a mammoth home run over the left-center field fence to make it 8-0.

By then, the only thing left to decide was if Gasvoda was going to make history with a no-hitter. The senior entered the final inning with 16 strikeouts, having struck out all but three batters.

She struck out Isabella Rinard to begin the inning, only to see a batter reach base for the first time since the first inning thanks to an error. Gasvoda got Bland to strike out for the third time on the afternoon and was one out away.

Unfortunately for her, pinch hitter Abby Eddy laced a double into left-center field that not only broke up the no-hitter, but also ended the shutout, scoring Kylie Daugherty.

Still, the next batter was retired with a groundout and Madonna reclaimed its throne atop the Class 1A division.

“I got on a roll and the adrenaline started going,” Gasvoda said. “When we got those runs in the first inning, I knew we had it. It is a little disappointing (I didn’t get the no-hitter) because I was on a roll, but it is OK because we won and it is a team effort.”

With the way Gasvoda was dealing, all Frontier coach Eric Rinard could do was tip his hat.

“She is a great pitcher, came out and threw strikes like we knew she would,” Rinard said. “That’s a great ball team. We got in that hole and I told the kids that we couldn’t get them back all at once. Try to chip away. We just weren’t able to. We tried our best but congratulations to Weirton Madonna.”

Madonna 8, Frontier 1

Madonna 4-0-0 0-0-3 1 — 8 8 1

Frontier 0-0-0 0-0-0 1 — 1 1 5

MADONNA: Gasvoda wp (18SO, 1W) and J.Kush. S.Recrosio 2S, 2rbi; Daugherty 2S; K.Kush rbi; J.Kush D, HR, 3rbi.

FRONTIER: Bland lp (6SO, 0W) and Winstanley. Eddy D, rbi.