Big Red shuts down Weir’s winning ways, 5-0
WEIRTON — The Steubenville softball team seems to have gotten out of his funk, while Weir High is hoping to avoid going into one.
Jules King pitched seven strong innings, and the Big Red batters made good contact throughout the game, shutting out the Red Riders, 5-0, Saturday afternoon at Weir.
Big Red now has won two straight games after enduring a six-game skid. It has outscored its opponents, 14-0, in those two games. King has struck out 25 batters, while only walking one in the two wins.
“It’s a nice day,” Big Red (12-10) head coach Gus DiMarzio said. “There’s sunshine. It’s warm. She mixed her pitches really well. Her drop was moving well. She mixed up her pitches. Her change was working. We thought she had more pop on her pitches. She was throwing the ball harder. She had good movement on her pitches.”
The Red Riders did not play with much energy, en route to just their third loss in the last 14 games.
“We just talked about that in right field,” first-year Weir (12-7) coach John Leary said. “We had absolutely no life. Give Big Red all the credit. They beat us, plain and simple. They battered us. Their pitcher was dominant.
“We lost this game not at 11 a.m., but at 9:45 a.m. I think there was a little bit of a hangover. We have had a successful week. We were just not ready to play. That is absolutely no excuse. Big Red beat us.”
King only allowed two singles, while striking out nine and walking one in picking up her second win of the week. King held Weir without a hit for 3 1/3 innings.
Chensey Tice took the loss for the Red Riders. She allowed five runs on seven hits, while striking out one and walking one.
Half of Big Red’s eight hits went for extra bases — two doubles, a triple and a home run.
“We still left runners on base,” DiMarzio said. “I will say we hit the ball hard. There were times when we hit the ball right at them. Hopefully in the next game, we hit the ball hard, and it goes a foot one way or the other and the ball finds gaps or the grass.”
Amaria Swearengen recorded a single and a three-run home run to lead the way for Steubenville. Lakyn Blackburn belted an RBI triple, and Mary Marshall and Adrianna Brown each tallied a double. Hillary Rauch recorded two singles, and Caitlin Lukacena collected one base hit.
Madison Angus singled with one out in the bottom of the fourth to break up King’s no-hitter, and Mallory Rosnick recorded a single with one out in the sixth.
“I was not pleased with our approach,” Leary said. “I don’t know if we thought we could just roll the ball out on the field and have success. That’s not going to happen, especially not against a good team like Big Red. We are foolish if we think that was going to happen.”
Big Red scored all of their runs in the first two innings.
Rauch singled with one out in the first, and she scored on Blackburn’s triple, and the Fairmont State recruit scored on a throwing error, giving the visitors an early 2-0 lead.
Lukacena reached on a bloop single just beyond the infield with one out in the second, and Gracey Bowman walked to put two runners on base, setting the stage for Swearengen, who launched her homer over the fence in right-center to increase Big Red’s advantage to 5-0.
“Anytime you have success, success breeds success,” DiMarzio said. “That is a good thing. I think we kind of pitied ourselves. When she came back, we got some life back. Our energy picked up. We had a pep in our step. It is my fault we did not play well in those six games.”
The game was Weir’s first without standout shortstop Bella Aperfine. The senior was injured when she was hit on the arm leading off Friday’s game at Brooke. The Red Riders went on to shut out the Bruins, 8-0.
“My heart goes out to her,” DiMarzio said. “She is a great player. We have played against her for four years. She plays with a lot of heart. It breaks my heart. She is a great kid from a great family. Her dad is a coach, and he has done a fantastic job raising those girls. To have it end the way that it did, my heart goes out to him.”
Aperfine, who has signed to play soccer at West Liberty, also was a standout on the soccer field, as well on the basketball court during her four-year three-sport career.
“She is not expected to play next week,” Leary said.
SPLIT DOWN THE MIDDLE
The win enabled Big Red to split the season series. Weir beat Big Red, 7-3, seven days prior on the road in the first of a split doubleheader.
Steubenville: Hopes to carry its recent success over to Monday’s Division II East district semifinal matchup against Dover. The game tentatively will start at 5 p.m. at Conotton Valley.
“We’ll see if it carries over,” DiMarzio said. “Dover is a good team. Dover is the No. 3 seed for a reason. (Madison) DeVault is a good pitcher. They have some good hitters.
“I will say this now — I will take Big Red kids in a tough situation seven days a week and twice on Sunday. I love this team. I like our odds. I’m sure coach (Melissa) Beachy would tell you the same thing.”
In December, DeVault signed to play softball at Robert Morris. Former Harrison Central standout Sara Peegreen-Corey is an assistant coach for the Colonials.
Weir High: Tentatively hosts Wheeling Park Monday.
Steubenville 5, Weir 0
Steubenville 2-3-0 0-0-0 0 — 5 8 3
Weir High 0-0-0 0-0-0 0 — 0 2 2
STEUBENVILLE (12-10): King (WP, CG, 0R, 2H, 9K, 1BB) and Swearengen. Rauch 2S; Marshall D; Blackburn T, RBI; Brown D; Lukacena S; Swearengen S, HR, 3RBIs.
WEIR HIGH (12-7): Tice (LP, CG, 5R, 7H, 1K, 1BB) and S. Aperfine. Rosnick S; Angus S.