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Oak Glen’s McKay no-hits Big Red

Junior ace strikes out 17, drives home a run during season-opening victory

NO NO NO — Oak Glen’s Maddie McKay pitches against Steubenville on Wednesday. The University of Toledo commit tossed her third career no-hitter and tied a career high with 17 strikeouts during her team’s 2-0 victory. -- Joe Catullo

NEW MANCHESTER — Oak Glen junior Maddie McKay was so happy to play on a softball diamond again that she did not realize after Wednesday’s contest with Steubenville what she accomplished.

“I threw a no-hitter? Wow,” she said with excitement and a laugh. “I really don’t think about that. We won, the team did well and we’re just really excited to play.”

McKay tossed her third career no-no against a usually strong Big Red lineup during the Golden Bears’ 2-0 season-opening victory. The University of Toledo commit also tied a career high with 17 strikeouts.

Maybe McKay also was not aware because she has had a busy 24-hour period that began with the girls basketball squad Tuesday night.

The Bears fell to top-seeded North Marion, 82-59, in a Class AAA Region 1 Section 1 semifinal, ending their season. Following a two-plus hour trip back home and school the next morning, McKay saved just enough energy.

“When I woke up this morning, I was so excited to be out here again,” she said. “I had a lot of butterflies because I was so nervous. We were all nervous, but we all participated and played well.

“I had to sleep on it. Our (basketball) season ended, and I was sad. We played well but came up short.”

McKay’s screwball and curveball were on point in getting Steubenville (5-4) hitters off with their timing. She also had a strong rise ball, punching numerous hitters out with swings and misses around their eyes.

All in all, McKay threw 90 pitches and 65 strikes.

“Maddie was ready. She’s just always been a leader for us,” Oak Glen head coach Sherrie Garner said. “She was anxious because it’s been a while. I simply can’t say enough about her. She’s fun, she loves the game, she comes to play and she practices to play.

“I credit Stephanie Tingler. She’s one of our assistants and caught at Bethany. Steph does an excellent job working with (Maddie) and (catcher) Sarah (Brown). It’s a nice collection of who they know.”

The only Big Red batter that gave McKay problems was leadoff hitter Jules King, who also was the starting pitcher. She drew three walks in three at-bats and stole two bases.

King began the game with a four-pitch walk, stole second but never made it to third following three consecutive Ks. She did the same in the top of the sixth and eventually reached third before McKay struck out Mary Marshall, one of Steubenville’s most dangerous hitters, to retire the side.

“We have a lot of good players. Jules is one of them,” Big Red head coach Gus DiMarzio said. “She was getting on base, but we couldn’t move her. It’s just the game.

“When you have kids in scoring position, you need to have timely hits. We didn’t get any hits.”

King was the hard-luck loser in the circle. She allowed two runs on three hits, four walks, hit a batter and punched out 10 in the complete-game effort.

“She was good. You can’t simulate her speed, even though we tried,” Garner said.

“A lot of the girls know her from playing with her in different spots and traveling. They respect her. She certainly wasn’t the one we wanted to put on base. But, we fought through that.”

With a scoreless tie in the bottom of the third inning, Oak Glen finally broke through.

Sydney and Sarah Brown drew back-to-back one-out walks, then McKay ripped a line-drive RBI single to left field. Two batters later, Lizzie Kell hit a first-pitch ground ball to the right that just missed the outstretched glove of Marshall, the second baseman, for a two-run advantage.

“(King) did great. She walked two players, and they found their way to home plate,” DiMarzio said.

“The game is true. No matter how long you play it or how good you are, the game is true to itself. When you give them free passes, those come back to bite you.”

Kell later led the bottom of the sixth off with another single and stole second base. She later reached third with one away, but King got out of it with a strikeout and ground out.

“That was a good competition. I respect Gus and his program,” Garner said. “We haven’t played Steubenville for a while, ever since the OVAC tournament a few years ago. We haven’t played them in a while in the regular season.”

CLOSE CALL

The only time McKay’s no-hitter was in question occurred with one out in the top of the second. Steubenville’s Tori Mitchell hit a two-footer in front of catcher Sarah Brown, who zipped the throw to first base. The ball was dropped before Mitchell touched the bag, resulting in an error.

“I tip my hat to (McKay),” DiMarzio said. “I’ve been coaching for 10 years, and nobody has ever no-hit us. In fact, we’ve never had less than four hits in a game. That was a heckuva performance.

“I’ll also say this: My hitters are undisciplined and are not doing the right things. That falls on me, but I promise you I’ll fix it.”

LUCKY NO. 17

The last time McKay struck out 17 hitters came on April 23, 2019, when the Bears defeated Martins Ferry, 4-1, in an OVAC Class 4A semifinal.

UP NEXT

Steubenville: Tentatively travels to Wheeling Park today.

Oak Glen: Tentatively does the same on Friday. Its scheduled contest against Brooke today is canceled due to the Bruins quarantining.

Oak Glen 2, Steubenville 0

Steubenville 0-0-0 0-0-0 0 — 0 0 0

Oak Glen 0-0-2 0-0-0 x — 2 3 1

STEUBENVILLE (5-4): King (lp, CG, 1R, 3H, 4BB, 10K) and Swearengen.

OAK GLEN (1-0): McKay (wp, CG, 0R, 0H, 3BB, 17K) and Sa. Brown. McKay S, RBI; Kell 2S, RBI.

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