Before the season, Big Red softball coach Gus DiMarzio claimed his team’s major goal was to win the district title after three prior losses.
Big Red, which had trailed by a run since the second inning and been held to just one hit coming into its last chance in the top of the seventh, got two huge hits from two of its younger players to plate two runs, and senior ace Jules King worked a 1-2-3 bottom half to seal a 2-1 win over John Glenn for Steubenville’s first district championship.
“I’m proud of my kids,” DiMarzio remarked. We continued battling and clawing and finding a way to win over the previous month.
“We lost by one run and it hurts. However, these girls found a solution, and I’m proud of them.
Big Red’s 21st win of the season matches the 2014 record.
“It’s tremendous for this group to pull this off, because this group is young,” DiMarzio said. Four seniors are the best teammates. These youngsters followed them.
“We talked about Big Red, getting over the hump, and doing great things, and this group did. I’m proud. Kids did everything. Their coach is lucky.”
In the top of the seventh, sophomore Sena Smith worked the count, fouling off pitches and taking a few to a 3-2 count, then drove a double to the fence in center.
After fouling off the first pitch, 10th-grader Paige Matteson launched a ball over the outfielders’ heads in right and raced around for an RBI triple to tie the game at 1-1.
After a lineout, Emily Tuttle grounded out to third, and Matteson sprinted home on the throw, avoiding a tag to score the winning run.
“Sena and Paige have battled all year and done great things,” DiMarzio added. “They get lost in the shuffle, but they are two great players. Sena started strong, Paige did her thing, and we got the ground ball. Thank goodness Paige is clever and scored a run.
“Jules does her thing in the bottom half, we support her, and we win. We’re happy to be Big Red.”
The Big Red dugout celebrated after King struck out the first two hitters in the bottom of the seventh and got out No. 3 with an easy groundout.
Estelle Matheny’s two-out RBI double gave John Glenn a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second, but King limited the Muksies (22-4) to that.
Sydney Marshall of John Glenn struck out six, walked one, and allowed three hits in the heartbreaking defeat.
“It was a great ballgame all the way through,” John Glenn head coach Steve Cowgill remarked.
“Steubenville got our back-to-back hits. Kudos to them. We played earlier in the year at our house and in a (tri) and got them 2-0, I wish I could exchange that one for this one, but they’re a terrific club and they battled to the finish like good teams do.”
Big Red advances to the Division II Region 7 playoff next Wednesday at Philo High School in Duncan Falls. Big Red plays the Southeast 1 District winner at 2 p.m. Today’s district final pits Athens against Sheridan.
Philo hosts the May 27 regional championship at noon.