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All hail Steubenville’s King

Big Red ace returns, lifts squad to sectional title

BACK IN ACTION — Steubenville’s Jules King returned from a thumb injury Wednesday and struck out 16 during her team’s 9-0 victory over River View. -- Joe Catullo

STEUBENVILLE — Steubenville sophomore standout Jules King made her triumphant return to the circle in Steubenville’s Division II Eastern District sectional final against 16th-seeded River View Wednesday evening.

King was on top of her game from the first batter on, as she struck out 16, leading sixth-seeded Steubenville to a 9-0 victory.

King suffered a thumb injury on April 22 at Dover. While she pitched against the Black Bears, she did not bat.

“You want to win and advance,” Big Red (11-10) head coach Gus DiMarzio said. “It is nice to win a game again. We have been struggling lately. The girls were excited about having Jules back. Jules was excited about getting back into the dirt with her teammates. We had a little bit of luck, some balls had eyes and the softball gods were good to us (Wednesday).”

King struck out eight of the nine Black Bear batters. Seven of the eight hitters struck out twice, with one suffering a hat trick.

“Jules did one heckuva,” DiMarzio said. “She had 16 strikeouts. We were talking last week, and we were getting ground balls, but we were kicking the ground balls and we were dropping fly balls. That is not that a big of an issue when you have 16 strikeouts.”

At one point, King struck out six of seven batters, with the last four hitters in that stretch punching out. 

King only allowed three singles, and she did not walk a batter. One batter reached on an error.

“Our expectation for her coming into the game was just for her to get through the game and to have her thumb feeling well,” DiMarzio said. “Everything else is a plus. You want her to come back and have success, but along with that success you want her to be healthy at the end of the game.

“We are happy with all of our kids. Everyone in the lineup did well. We are doing better.”

With the win, Big Red will play No. 3 seed Dover in the district semifinals Monday at a site still to be determined. Dover (17-6) shut out No. 18 seed West Holmes, 12-0, in five innings Tuesday.

While Big Red fared well when it was in the field, the Black Bears did not do so well in that area. River View’s pitchers walked seven batters, hit one and the Black Bears made five errors in the field.

The visitors used two pitchers. Darian Garvin started, and the junior allowed nine runs on six hits, while striking out three and walking six in her 4 1/3 innings of work. Ki Stamper came on with one out in the top of the fifth inning, and she did not allow a run or give up a hit, while striking out one and walking one in her 1 2/3 innings.

After a scoreless first inning, Big Red scored at least one run in the next four. It broke the game open with a six-run fourth.

All six of Big Red’s hits were singles. Adrianna Brown delivered three and two RBIs. Maggi Cucarse contributed two singles and three RBIs. Gracey Bowman singled and added two RBIs. Caitlin Lukacena tallied an RBI when she drew a bases-loaded walk.

Melanie Giffin, Abby Lorenz and Stamper all produced a base hit for River View.

The victors scored a run in the second without collecting a base knock. A walk, a hit batter and an error loaded the bases, and Cucarese walked, scoring Tori Mitchell.

Big Red loaded the bases with no outs in the third on a walk, an error and a base hit. Then, with two outs, Bowman brought home Mary Marshall with a base hit to make the score 2-0.

River View still was in the game heading to the home half of the fourth, but Big Red took full control at the point, as it plated six runs, en route to building a commanding 8-0 lead. In the frame, Brown brought home a pair with a base hit to make the score.

Lukacena and Bowman drew back-to-back walks with the bases loaded to bring in two more runs to increase Big Red’s advantage to 6-0. Cucarese then ripped a two-run single to make it 8-0.

Marshall, who reached on an error, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a Brown single as part of a double steal to give Steubenville a 9-0 lead.

SAYING GOODBYE TO FRANCISCAN

The game was potentially Big Red’s last at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. The team is expected to move to its own field next season. 

“We are supposed to have new digs next year,” DiMarzio said. “That’s the plan. There are always hiccups here and there. We hope we will be playing on our own field. We are excited about it.

“We want to thank the administration and the school board for doing this. I know I am excited. It will be nice to have our own field with the logistics and everything. We cannot thank the administration and the school board enough for doing this. It will be nice to have a place to call our own home.”

Big Red’s first softball season was in 1994, and the team has played games at Belleview Park and at Jim Wood Park, along with playing at Franciscan.

Steubenville 9, River View 0

River View   0-0-0 0-0-0 0 — 0 3 5

Steubenville 0-1-1 6-1-0 x — 9 6 1

RIVER VIEW: Garvin (LP, 4 1/3IP, 9R, 6H, 3K, 6BB), Stamper (1 2/3IP, 0R, 0H, 1K, 1BB) and Giffin. Giffin S; Stamper S; Lorenz S.

STEUBENVILLE (11-10): King (WP, CG, 0R, 3H, 16K, 0BB) and Swearengen. Cucarese 2S, 3RBIs; Brown 3S, 2RBIs; Lucas RBI; Bowman S, 2RBIs.

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