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Congratulations to the Madonna Blue Dons.... OVAC CHAMPS!

5th year in a row! 

Madonna opens sectionals with big win over Hundred



MAY 2, 2019


Sports writer

MAKING PLAYS — Madonna’s Jordan Schubert scoops a ground ball during Wednesday’s sectional win at the I-470 complex. (Photo by Kyle Lutz)

WHEELING — Fresh off its fifth-straight OVAC Class 1A championship, the second part of Madonna’s postseason kicked off Wednesday night at the J.B. Chambers Complex at I-470 Fields.

The Blue Dons could not have asked for a better opener, either. Madonna got things going quickly as they scored four runs off four hits in the first inning to secure a 10-1 victory over Valley.

The Blue Dons will play Wheeling Central at 7 p.m. today. The Maroon Knights won their sectional opener over Hundred, 17-0.

“We put the ball in play when we had to,” Madonna coach Cris Conti said. “I thought we did a good job of that (Wednesday). We made the routine plays of that in the field when they hit the ball. I thought we played really well. My hats off to Valley.

“They played a good game. We just took advantage of a couple of mistakes they made and when we had people on base, we made the key hits.”

Madalena Daugherty tallied three hits and four RBIs for the Blue Dons. She supplied a RBI single in the first to plate the first run of the game while she secured another RBI in the second after belting a triple.

In her last at-bat, the sophomore tallied a two-run single.

Her single in the first, though, sparked a series of hits. The Blue Dons tallied four straight singles as Gia Riccadonna, Michaela Battista and Mikayla Sole reached base.

“I always tell the girls when you start out the game, you got to jump on the team as quick as you can,”Conti said.

“Lately, we’ve been doing that. It’s kind of helped us out and getting some runs real early in the game.”

The Lumberjills tallied their lone run in the second inning. Shyanne Moore ripped a triple to give her team a little spark. Miriam Kinczel brought her home with a RBI single. Kinczel provided two singles on the night.

“We had jitters. But they settled down after the first inning,” Valley coach Gary Partridge said.

“They had a couple of errors there, but after that, our biggest problem was we stranded runners on base. I don’t know (how many) it was. If you do that, you can’t win many games.”

In the Blue Dons’ final at-bats, they were able to take advantage of walks as Valley was having a little trouble locating the strike zone.

After two consecutive walks to start the fourth, Daugherty plated both with her third hit of the contest.

Two more walks followed and Mikayla Sole made it, 8-1 on a groundout.

Jordan Schubert followed and tallied the final two RBI with a single.

Miranda Sole went the distance for the Blue Dons as she fired four strikeouts and allowed four hits.

“It’ll be a good game,” Conti said about the matchup against Wheeling Central. “They’re a good team. They’re playing good right now, we’re playing good right now. So I think it’ll be a very good game.”

Elizabeth Conley had the fourth hit for Valley.

The Lumberjills will play Hundred at 5:30 p.m. today.

“I’m very happy with the girls because in the past, they could name their score if they wanted to,”Partridge said.

“Now we’re competitive and we’re putting in a chance to win ballgames and that’s all being a coach could ever ask.”

Madonna 10, Valley 1

Valley 0-1-0 0-0 — 1-4-2

Madonna 4-1-0 5 — 10-8-1

VALLEY: Brown lp (2K, 6BB) and West. Moore T. Kinczel 2S, rbi.

MADONNA: Mir. Sole wp (4K, 1BB) and M. Daugherty. M. Daugherty 2S, T, 4rbi; Battista S, rbi; Mik. Sole S, rbi; Schubert S, 2rbi.

Madonna softball also victorious, captures crown over Frontier



APR 28, 2019


Sports writer

CELEBRATING — The Madonna softball team celebrates its OVAC Class 1A title after defeating Frontier on Saturday. (Contributed)

WHEELING — For Madonna coach Chris Conti, it wasn’t the expectations that mattered — it was the heart of his team.

Despite losing first-team all-state pitcher Katie Gasvoda to graduation and another first-teamer and a second-teamer transferring out, the Madonna softball team did what some said couldn’t be done.

On Saturday, the Blue Dons won their fifth consecutive OVAC 1A championship, with a 2-0 victory over top seeded Frontier at Ben’s Field at the I-470 Complex.

With only three seniors and one junior, a young Madonna squad made its coach very proud.

“There were a lot of people saying we weren’t going to be that good this year,” Conti said. “But, this is a great team to coach. They have heart. They have soul. They have everything. They just play together as a team, and they have fun. That is why they are winning.”

As Madonna starting pitcher Maddie Daugherty and Frontier starter Alexis Bland were locked in a pitcher’s duel, the game came down to manufacturing runs.

In a scoreless contest in the top of the seventh, Addie Backel drew a leadoff walk. Conti then looked at No. 9 hitter Adriana Lenhart and gave her the sign. Lenhart laid down a perfect bunt to put pressure on the defense. A bad throw to first bounced down the right field line, and Backel slid into home for the go-ahead run.

Two batters later, Nina Daugherty placed an RBI single on the chalk of the right field line to provide the Dons an insurance run.

“You have to make things happen,” Conti said. “Adriana was nervous about bunting, but she put down a fantastic bunt. We tell the girls every day in practice that it’s going to come down to a bunt, and (Saturday) it did.

“The bunt worked. It’s not all about hitting. You have to do all the fundamentals of what you learn, and they did that. I’m very proud of them.”

After getting the lead, Maddie Daugherty locked down the win in the bottom of the seventh with her fourth 1-2-3 inning of the game. She finished with five strikeouts and four walks (two intentional), as she kept hitters guessing.

“I was liking the way I was throwing my changeup,” Maddie Daugherty said. “I could place it wherever I wanted and got a lot of batters off balance.”

Despite setting hitters down in order on four occasions, the right-hander faced some challenges. In the first, second and sixth innings, the Cougars put runners at third base but left them stranded.

“No matter what kind of position you are in as a single person, I think it’s important to realize that your team has your back and I trusted them to get me out of those innings, as well,” Maddie Daugherty said. “My sister (Nina) saved my butt in center field a couple of times in the last inning, so I was really proud of her.”

In the sixth, Frontier had a runner on third with one out. Conti elected to intentionally walk the No. 3 and 4 hitters, Bland and Katelyn Tidd. The decision paid off, as shortstop Michaela Battista hauled in a line drive up the middle and stepped on second for the inning-ending double play.

“We had to do that,” Conti said of the intentional walks. “We had to get in that situation, and we made some fantastic plays to get out of trouble (Saturday).

“Our girls remained calm. They didn’t get excited and they just played the game. This gives us momentum going into sectionals next week.”

Frontier left five runners on base in the loss.

“We left some opportunities out there a couple of times,” Frontier coach Eric Rinard said. “We just didn’t get the timely, hit and they got the timely hit when they needed it there in the seventh.

“I’m proud of the girls for both teams. They both played excellent, and I take my hat off to them. They did a nice job.”

Bland threw a complete game, striking out eight and walking four.

“She came out with a mindset that she wanted to do it,” Rinard said. “She came out early and was really bringing it, and she did a fabulous job the whole game.”

After a rainy Friday night, the OVAC 1A contest was the only softball championship played on Saturday, with the rest rescheduled for Monday.

“I really want to thank the OVAC for getting this field ready for us,” Conti said. “We weren’t supposed to play (Saturday), but my mother-in-law passed away two days ago. We could not play on Monday with everybody else, so I give them and the people down here credit.

“They are top of the line people, and I really appreciate that we got to fit this game in. My hat’s off to the OVAC.”

Madonna 2, Frontier 0

Madonna 0-0-0 0-0-0 2 — 2-6-2

Frontier 0-0-0 0-0-0 0 — 0-4-2

MADONNA: M. Daugherty wp (5K, 4BB) and Mir. Sole. N. Daugherty S, rbi.

FRONTIER: Bland lp (8K, 4BB) and Tidd.

Madonna softball proving doubters wrong, advances to Class 1A championsh



APR 23, 2019


Staff writer

SLIDING BY — Madonna’s Mikayla Sole slides safely past St. John catcher Kaley Bryan during an OVAC Class 1A semifinal contest on Monday. (Photo by Andrew Grimm)

WHEELING — Losing several key pieces from a strong season last year, the Madonna softball team felt like it had been counted out by others in the OVAC going into this season.

Not only did the Blue Dons make the cut for the tournament, but they responded in a big way to anyone who might have dismissed them in their Class 1A semifinal on Monday. They earned a trip to the OVAC championship for a fifth-straight year with a 7-1 win over Bellaire St. John’s at the J.B. Chambers I-470 Complex.

“A lot of teams counted us out this year, but guess what? They are here to play, here to have fun and that is exactly what they are doing,” Madonna head coach Chris Conti said of his team. “I love it. I am excited for these girls. They are ecstatic.”

Madonna (9-8), the No. 3 seed, took advantage of errors and miscues by the No. 2 seed Irish (9-8) throughout the game and was in control from the second inning on.

“We did a great job. When they had wild pitches, we ran,” Conti said. “When they (didn’t) make plays at first base or second base, we took advantage of that. The next player comes up and hits the ball. It was not just one person who did this whole thing. We did this as a team.”

Maddie Daugherty went the distance in the circle, striking out five and walking two, also driving in a run with her bat. Mikayla Sole and Addie Backel also had RBIs for the Blue Dons.

“Maddie pitched a fantastic game for us,” Conti said. “I told the girls they played as a team. There is no I in the word team. I have stressed that all year. We had base runners, a couple of wild pitches and they scored. They were aggressive on the bases. They saw the ball.

“They all get along and support each other. That is what I love about this team. It is a great team to coach.”

After a scoreless first, Madonna took advantage of the first St. John’s mistakes. With Gia Riccadonna aboard, Sole bunted and the Irish committed multiple errors to allow both to come around and score for a 2-0 lead, which proved to be all the offense Madonna would need.

“It’s just not a good time to play like this,” St. John’s coach Jerry Magistro said. “I think we gave them about every run. That is part of the game. You’ve got to be able to not have errors. We left a lot of people on base, and you can’t do that in a game like this, or against anybody. It just seemed like nothing was going our way right from the beginning.”

Adriana Lenhart walked and scored on a wild pitch in the third, while Michaela Battista walked and scored on Sole’s RBI single in the fourth to double the lead. Battista singled and scored on a Backel ground out in the sixth, then Daugherty drove in Miranda Sole with a single and scored on a wild pitch to round out the Madonna scoring in the top of the seventh.

The Irish got on the board in the bottom of the seventh with an RBI from Donnie Ruza, but it was too little, too late.


In the other 1A semifinal, top-seeded Frontier defeated Conotton Valley, 3-2. The championship date and time will be announced today.


Madonna: Plays at Weir High for the city championship on Wednesday.

St. John’s: Hosts Paden City for a doubleheader today.

(Grimm can be reached at agrimm@heraldstaronline.com)

No. 3 Madonna 7, No. 2 St. John’s 1

Madonna 0-2-1 1-0-1 2 — 7-4-3

St. John’s 0-0-0 0-0-0 1 — 1-4-1

MADONNA (9-8): M. Daugherty (WP, CG, 1R, 1ER, 4H, 5K, 2BB) and Mir. Sole.

ST. JOHN’S (9-8): Kull (LP, 3IP, 4R, 3ER, 2H, 5K, 3BB), Lowe (4IP, 3R, 2ER, 2H, 5K, 2BB) and Bryan.

TWO OR MORE HITS: Madonna none; St. John’s (Yaegel 3). DOUBLES: Madonna none; St. John’s 1 (Yaegel). TRIPLES: none. HOME RUNS: none. RBIs: Madonna 3 (M. Daugherty, Mik. Sole, Backel).

Huge second inning lifts Madonna over Catholic Central



MAR 28, 2019



Sports correspondent

MAKING CONTACT — Madonna’s Joron Dillon hits a single against Catholic Central on Wednesday. (Photo by Joe Catullo)

STEUBENVILLE — The Madonna softball team erupted for 17 runs in the top of the second inning en route to a 17-5 victory against Catholic Central in five innings Wednesday evening at the Steve Zamana Softball Field.

“We had one big inning,” Madonna (2-4) head coach Chris Conti said. “We kept hitting. We hit the ball well. That’s two games in a row that we have hit the ball well. Hitting is catchy. Once the first girl hits, they all start to hit. The other girls caught on.

“The girls are playing with confidence. They have confidence in their hitting, and they have confidence in the way they are playing defense.”

Defensive miscues once again plagued the Crusaders, as they committed some costly errors in the Blue Dons’ big inning.

“It was our defense again,” Catholic Central (1-3) head coach Rick Gillette said. “Errors killed us. We had a lot of errors. The errors are on me. We are going to keep working hard. They scored all of their runs in that one inning. After that, we shut them down.

“We also didn’t capitalize on our chances. We had some chances to keep playing, but we weren’t able to take advantage of them. I played some younger girls today, and they did a good job.”

Nina Daugherty picked up her first career win for Madonna. She struck out two, walked three and allowed five runs on six hits in her four innings of work inside the circle. Maddie Daugherty pitched the fifth. She struck out one, walked one and gave up two hits, while not allowing a run.

“Nina pitched a good game,” Conti said. “This is her first year pitching in high school. She is a freshman. This will give her confidence. This will help her out going forward. She pitched a good game, everybody played good defense and we hit the ball. When you do all three, you are going to win games.”

Ellen Hanood started and took the loss for Catholic Central. She did not record a strikeout, walked two and allowed nine runs on six hits in 1 1/3 innings of work. Jayda Jones pitched the rest of the way. She struck out two, walked three and allowed eight runs on seven hits in 3 2/3 innings.

Five girls had multiple hits for Madonna, and three of the Blue Dons’ 13 hits went for extra bases. Michaela Battista belted a double, two singles and drove in two runs. Mikayla Sole tallied a two-run double and a two-run single. Maddie Daugherty and Gia Riccadonna each delivered two singles and two RBIs. Nina Daugherty ended up with a single, a double and an RBI.

The Crusaders recorded five hits. Veronica Phillipson, Bailie Murphy and Gia Dettorre all tallied RBI singles. Jayda Jones added a double, and Kaylee Kirkpatrick collected an RBI.

“These girls didn’t quit,” Gillette said. “We had bases loaded in the one inning, and we had runners on in the fifth. We just couldn’t get those runners in.”

Catholic Central collected two runs in the third before tallying three more in the fourth.

“The Catholic Central girls battled back,” Conti said. “They scored some runs. They are well-coached. They scored some runs. They hit the ball. They kept playing, and we kept playing.”

Madonna and Catholic Central are scheduled to play again at 5 p.m. April 5 at Starvaggi Park.

Both teams are on the road tonight. Catholic Central plays at 5 p.m. at Wellsville, while Madonna plays at 6 p.m. at Wheeling Central.

Madonna 17, Catholic Central 2

Madonna 0-17-0 0-0 — 17-13-3

Central 0-0-2 3-0 — 5-8-4

MADONNA (2-4): N. Daugherty (WP, 4IP, 5R, 6H, 2K, 3BB), M. Daugherty (1IP, 0R, 2H, 1K, 1BB) and Sole.

CATHOLIC CENTRAL (1-3): Hanood (LP, 1 1/3IP, 9R, 6H, 0K, 2BB), Jones (3 2/3IP, 8R, 7H, 2K, 3BB) and DiBiase.

TWO OR MORE HITS: Madonna 5 (Battista 3, Sole 2, M. Daugherty 2, Riccadonna 2, N. Daugherty 2); Catholic Central none. DOUBLES: Madonna 3 (Sole, Battista, N. Daugherty); Catholic Central 1 (Jones). TRIPLES: Madonna none; Catholic Central none. HOME RUNS: Madonna none; Catholic Central none. RBIs: Madonna 12 (Sole 4, M. Daugherty 2, Riccadonna 2, Battista 2, N. Daugherty 2); Catholic Central 4 (Phillipson, Kirkpatrick, Murphy, Dettore).

"It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great."

Coming together is a beginning.
Keeping together is progress.
Working together is success. - Henry Ford

"There are plenty of teams in every sport that have great players and
never win titles. Most of the time, those players aren't willing to
sacrifice for the greater good of the team. The funny thing is, in
the end, their unwillingness to sacrifice only makes individual
goals more difficult to achieve. One thing I believe to the fullest
is that if you think and achieve as a team, the individual accolades
will take care of themselves. Talent wins games, but teamwork and
intelligence win championships.” ~Michael Jordan