VIENNA - St. Marys jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead, then basically finished off Clay-Battelle with a five-run fourth frame to record an 11-1, five-inning win in a Class A Region I softball semifinal Saturday afternoon at Jackson Park.
John Mike Nichols' Blue Devils, now 15-11 on the season, will travel to New Martinsville Thursday to face host Magnolia at 5:30 p.m. in the regional championship game, with a berth in the state tournament the reward for the victor.
Starter and winner Mykaela Handschumacher allowed the Cee Bees (7-16) only three singles through the first four frames before Kendra Becker polished off Clay-Battelle in order in the top of the fifth to close out the win.
St. Marys paraded nine batters to the plate in the bottom of the first inning to score three times on Becker's RBI single, a sacrifice fly by Rachel Payton and a throwing error trying to pick a base-runner off third, then added a second-inning tally on a wild pitch to up the advantage to 4-0.
The Cee Bees plated a run in the top of the third on an unsuccessful fielder's choice play at home before Mikaela Britton tripled in a Blue Devil score in the bottom of the inning, then scored herself on a throwing error trying to nab her at third to hike the St. Marys margin to 6-1.
Rachel Perry's bases-loaded triple highlighted the Blue Devils' 5-spot in the fourth that finished with Britton's RBI infield single and Alyssa Fetty's sacrifice fly.
"We've had trouble sometimes this year jumping out to a good lead," said Nichols. "But when we do jump out to a good lead, we usually follow up and run with it. We jumped on them early today and kept on going."
Looking ahead to Thursday's matchup with 17-12 Magnolia, which knocked 25-1 Wheeling Central out of the tournament on Friday, Nichols said, "Any team that upsets Central has to be a great team. (Mallory) Chapman is a good little ball-player, whether on the mound or in the outfield; she should be all-state on everybody's list."
Going into this season, Nichols "was looking at it as being a rebuilding year. We took some lumps early, but down the stretch, we started winning some games -getting a little mental toughness and started to pick it up - nd hopefully we can continue that next week and beyond."
Wirt County 0
ELIZABETH -Williamstown's Emily Dunn knocked in the only run of the game in the top half of the sixth inning to break up a pitching dual between the Yellowjackets' Cierra King and Wirt County's Courtney Casto as the visitors came away with a 1-0 victory to advance to the regional championship game next Thursday against Buffalo.
King hurled a complete-game, allowing just three hits and one walk while striking out two.
Dunn's hit brought home Emrie Gray with the winning run and was one of six singles by the maroon and gold. The Tigers' Stone Cheuvront had the only extra base hit of the game-a double-but was left stranded.
Casto also hurled all seven innings, striking out five and walking only two.