Red Knights top Madonna

WEIRTON – Putting the ball in play is half of the battle.

The Toronto softball team managed to find success when it put the ball in play, and pitcher Cari Horne did a good job of not allowing Madonna to put the ball in play as the Red Knights doubled up the Blue Dons, 4-2, Monday at Starvaggi Park.

Horne recorded 14 strikeouts and limited Madonna to two hits. She walked two.

“She is such a wonderful person, and her personality comes through on the field,” Toronto (7-2) head coach Eugene Ciciarelli said. “On the field and during a game, she keeps herself on an even keel. She does a wonderful job. She does not get too high, and she doesn’t get too low. She stays within herself.

“She listened to her catcher very well, and that was key. Our catcher did a heck of a job calling pitches and sticking with the game plan.

“We knew Madonna swings the bat well. We made the necessary plays, and that was a blessing. We knew we had to play well. It was a good game, and I think it was a good game to watch. We play them again tomorrow, and we are going to have to play hungry. They are going to raise their level of play, and we are going to have to raise ours.”

Horne was hurt by her team’s three errors, but she was able to limit the damage.

On the other hand, the Blue Dons not only struck out 14 times at the plate, but their defense did little in support of pitcher Amanda Pulice as Madonna totaled eight errors. Pulice took the loss despite limiting the Red Knights to just a pair of base hits. She also struck out three and walked one. Only one of Toronto’s run came on an RBI. The other three runs were all scored on errors.

“We played a bad game,” Madonna (4-8) head coach Chris Conti said. “The girls’ heads were not in the game. We were not ready to play a softball game today. I don’t what they came here to do, but they didn’t play well.

“I’m not trying to take anything away from them. Toronto played a good game. We didn’t play good softball today.”

Shane Sears and Carly Cooper recorded singles and Emily Anderson added an RBI for Toronto.

For the Blue Dons, Brianna Fierro recorded a double, and pinch hitter Maddy Burchill collected a single.

Burchill, who is still bothered by an injury she sustained in last week’s 10-9 loss at Catholic Central, singled in the seventh to give Madonna runners on first and second, but Horne was able to pitch herself out of trouble.

“She is still a little banged up,” Conti said. “It is her knee. She wasn’t able to play today, but I was able to use her as a pinch hitter, and she came through for us. She is a senior, and I thought she might be able to get something started for us. It just didn’t work out.”

After not scoring a run in the top of the first, the Red Knights tallied a run in each of the next four innings.

“We got the first run in the game, and I think that was important,” Ciciarelli said. “I think it helped the girls to see things in a more positive light. They played a whale of a game.”

The Blue Dons scored one run in the second and one run in the third.

“Playing them again, it is going be like a doubleheader,” Ciciarelli said. “I think all of the girls have met each other through different things or clinics. I think there is mutual respect between the two teams. I know we are going to have to play well.

“Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. I will take whatever we get.

“Our girls’ communication and accountability is really good. I am proud of them for that. Hopefully, it continues.

“Most of our games are going to be dogfights.”

The two teams are scheduled to play again at 5:30 p.m. today at Toronto.

“It is not tough having to play back-to-back,” Conti said. “We have to come back tomorrow and play them again. It is like a doubleheader. Hopefully, our girls play better tomorrow. Hopefully, they learn from this.

“We need to hit the ball. We took too many strike threes.”

Toronto 4, Madonna 2

Toronto 011 110 0 – 4 2 3

Madonna 011 000 0 – 2 2 8

TORONTO (7-2): Horne (WP, 14K, 2BB) and Brown; Sears S; Anderson RBI; Cooper S.

MADONNA (4-8): Pulice (LP, 3K, 1BB) and Magnone; Fierro D, Burchill S.