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Madonna coach Conti reaches the 300-win plateau



MAY 8, 2018


Staff writer

MR. MADONNA — The Madonna softball team celebrates coach Chris Conti’s 300th victory with the Blue Dons during the team’s 15-0 win over Valley in a Class A Region 1, Section 1 sectional contest Monday. (Photo by Andrew Grimm)

ELM GROVE — The Madonna softball team was on a mission right from the start Monday evening when it resumed its Class A Region 1, Section 1 matchup with Valley at the I-470 complex.

That mission was to get veteran coach Chris Conti his 300th win, and the girls accomplished it in grand fashion, dominating right from the get-go en route to a 15-0 five-inning victory for the milestone.

“It is great,” Conti said. “It is a milestone. You coach for 25 years and you never think that you’ll win that many games. I have just had some great teams over the years. It’s not about me; it’s about the kids. I didn’t win the games, the girls won the games for me.

“I am very happy to have reached 300. It took a while, we kept getting rained out. The girls worked very hard for me this year and all the years. It’s a special day for my softball program and Madonna High School. I appreciate the administration letting me coach this many years to get to 300 wins.”

For Conti, who was presented with multiple gifts from his players afterward and has been with the Blue Dons softball team for 25 years (30 overall), achieving the milestone is something that is special to the whole school and well-deserved in the eyes of athletic director Mike Arlia.

“It is special for Madonna High School,” Arlia said. “A lot of people don’t know everything he does for Madonna High School. For 40 years he has cleaned our parking lots. When it snows, he brings gravel if we need it. He’s a better man than he is anything else, and that is what today is about. He is Mr. Madonna.”

Getting Conti the win was something special for senior standout Katie Gasvoda, too. She played a big part in it, tossing a complete game one-hitter in the circle and recording five RBIs while going 3-for-3, including a homer.

“We have been wanting to get it for him for a long time,” she said. “I hope it means as much to him as it does to us. I’m glad we were able to help him get it, and I’m glad to be a part of the team to help him reach this goal. He was (getting emotional), and I thought I was going to tear up, too, because it is a happy moment. He’s an amazing coach.”

Right from the start the Blue Dons (13-3), who were on the wrong end of a no-hitter in the last outing against Wheeling Central, got the offense going. Sophia Recrosio started the bottom of the first with her first of three hits in the game. Gasvoda then stepped to the plate and put the first pitch she saw from Lumberjills (3-10) starter Megan Brown over the left field wall for a 2-0 lead. Jaedyn Kush made it 3-0 with an RBI double, and Gianna Mascio tacked on a fourth run in the inning with a two-out RBI single.

“They came down here and played hard,” Conti said. “The girls never got down (after the loss to Wheeling Central). I told them the old saying, ‘It’s not over until the fat lady sings,’ and they all chuckled. I told them to just keep playing hard and they did. Everybody hit the ball well. It was a complete team effort. I preach team. When do we it as a team, we win.”

Gasvoda, who made quick work of the lone batter she faced in the top of the first, having already recorded the first two outs when the game originally started on Friday, struck out the side in the second on her way to nine punchouts in the game. Her teammates gave her some more run support in the bottom half as Maddie Daughtery drew a bases-loaded walk and Keara Kush knocked in another with a groundout to make it 6-0.

Gia Riccadonna and Sophia Recrosio each singled in a run, Karena Recrosio doubled in another and Gasvoda followed it up with an RBI single to make it a 10-0 lead after three. Riccadonna added another RBI by drawing a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the fourth to start another outburst, this time for five more runs. Karena Recrosio drew another bases-loaded walk, Gasvoda drove in two more with a single and Daughtery plated another with an RBI single to push the lead to 15-0.

Gasvoda, who lost the no-hit bid in the fourth, finished strong by making quick work of the top of the fifth, ending the game with a strikeout.

“My hat is off to Madonna. They are a good team, and that is the level we want to be at,” Valley coach Gary Partridge said. “I love Chris to death; he is a good guy. Congratulations to him and Madonna. We were just a little flat tonight, and against teams like that you have to be at 100 percent.”

The Blue Dons will face Wheeling Central, which defeated Madonna 4-0 in the first meeting in the double-elimination tournament, today at 6:30 p.m. back at the I-470 complex looking to force another game Wednesday with a win.

“Central is a great team, and we’ve got to play them again,” Conti said. “That’s our section — it’s a tough section. We have to play one of the best teams in the state.”

Madonna 15, Valley 0

Valley 0-0-0 0-0 — 0 1 2

Madonna 4-2-4 5-x — 15 14 0

VALLEY (3-10): Brown (LP, 3IP, 10R (10ER), 11H, 2K, 2BB, 1HBP), Harris (1IP, 5R (5ER), 3H, 1K, 4BB) and Bassett.

MADONNA (13-3): Gasvoda (WP, CG, 0R, 1H, 9K, 0BB) and J. Kush.

TWO OR MORE HITS: Madonna (S. Recrosio 3, Gasvoda 3, J. Kush 2, Mascio 2, Riccadonna 2). DOUBLES: Valley: None; Madonna: 4 (J. Kush 2, K. Recrosio, Riccadonna). TRIPLES: None. HOME RUNS: Valley: None. Madonna: 1 (Gasvoda). RBIs: Madonna (Gasvoda 5, K. Recrosio 2, Daughtery 2, Riccadonna 2, J. Kush, Mascio, S. Recrosio, K. Kush).


Gasvoda fans 18, leads Blue Dons to Class 1A title



APR 29, 2018


Sports writer

CELEBRATING — The Madonna softball team celebrates its OVAC Class 1A championship victory over Frontier on Saturday. (Photo by Josh Strope)

WHEELING — Katie Gasvoda struck out 18, allowing one hit. The Madonna bats broke out early. The result was a familiar one.

Madonna claimed its fourth straight OVAC Class 1A championship — and fifth overall — with an 8-1 victory against Frontier on Ben’s Field at the J.B. Chambers I-470 Complex.

“These never get old, especially when you are winning OVAC championships,”Madonna coach Chris Conti said. “The OVAC is a great conference to win a championship in. I enjoy playing in this tournament.”

The Blue Dons senior class of Gasvoda, Keara Kush, Gianna Mascio, August Adkins, Kasey Canei and Gasvoda completed a rare feat in the history of the conference in any sport: winning the title in all four seasons.

For Gasvoda, it was a point of emphasis for the team leading up Saturday’s title tilt.

“I started crying because I was so happy,” Gasvoda said. “We are undefeated in OVACs, and I am blessed to be a part of it. We think about it a lot. We want to leave our footprint and set an example for the little girls under us that you can do it.”

The Madonna bats were on fire to begin the game, scoring four runs in the first inning.

Karena Recrosio scored on a fielder’s choice to open the scoring, Jaedn Kush hit a two-run single and Keara Kush scored on a passed ball.

“Jumping on a team in the beginning, that was a big plus,” Conti said. “You score the first couple runs and they have to catch you.”

You never want to say a game is over in the first inning, but giving the ball to Gasvoda with a four-run lead is a pretty safe bet.

Gasvoda was on top of her game, mowing down Frontier batter after batter.

After allowing a two-out walk in the first inning, she got opposing pitcher Alexis Bland to whiff to end the inning. Gasvoda then struck out the side in the next two innings and seven straight.

She also struck out the side in fifth and sixth innings. Each of the first six innings ended with a strikeout.

“She did a fantastic job,” Conti said of Gasvoda. “She was zoned in from Pitch No. 1 to the last pitch of the game. She had it in her mind that she was going to win this game and she did it.”

Not that Gasvoda needed any more run support, but the Blue Dons tacked on a few more in the sixth, the big hit a two-run single by Sophia Recrosio to make it 6-0. An error allowed Run No. 7 to cross the plate.

In the seventh, Jaedn Kush crushed a mammoth home run over the left-center field fence to make it 8-0.

By then, the only thing left to decide was if Gasvoda was going to make history with a no-hitter. The senior entered the final inning with 16 strikeouts, having struck out all but three batters.

She struck out Isabella Rinard to begin the inning, only to see a batter reach base for the first time since the first inning thanks to an error. Gasvoda got Bland to strike out for the third time on the afternoon and was one out away.

Unfortunately for her, pinch hitter Abby Eddy laced a double into left-center field that not only broke up the no-hitter, but also ended the shutout, scoring Kylie Daugherty.

Still, the next batter was retired with a groundout and Madonna reclaimed its throne atop the Class 1A division.

“I got on a roll and the adrenaline started going,” Gasvoda said. “When we got those runs in the first inning, I knew we had it. It is a little disappointing (I didn’t get the no-hitter) because I was on a roll, but it is OK because we won and it is a team effort.”

With the way Gasvoda was dealing, all Frontier coach Eric Rinard could do was tip his hat.

“She is a great pitcher, came out and threw strikes like we knew she would,” Rinard said. “That’s a great ball team. We got in that hole and I told the kids that we couldn’t get them back all at once. Try to chip away. We just weren’t able to. We tried our best but congratulations to Weirton Madonna.”

Madonna 8, Frontier 1

Madonna 4-0-0 0-0-3 1 — 8 8 1

Frontier 0-0-0 0-0-0 1 — 1 1 5

MADONNA: Gasvoda wp (18SO, 1W) and J.Kush. S.Recrosio 2S, 2rbi; Daugherty 2S; K.Kush rbi; J.Kush D, HR, 3rbi.

FRONTIER: Bland lp (6SO, 0W) and Winstanley. Eddy D, rbi.

Madonna rips Paden City in OVAC Class 1A semifinal



APR 24, 2018


Sports writer

UNDERHANDING — Madonna’s Katie Gasvoda pitches against Paden City in an OVAC Class 1A semifinal game on Monday. (Photo by Kyle Lutz)

WHEELING — Madonna was staring adversity in the face in the early going of an OVAC semifinal game against Paden City.

A throwing error by the Blue Dons in the top of the first gave the Wildcats two runs, and ace pitcher Katie Gasvoda had a little trouble in the circle. However, the Madonna bats came to life and Gasvoda settled in as Madonna defeated Paden City, 10-4, Monday night at Lisa’s Field at the I-470 Complex.

This is the fourth consecutive trip to the 1A championship game for Madonna as it will take on Frontier. The Blue Dons have also won the last three 1A championships.

“It’s just exciting. It’s exciting for the girls,” Madonna coach Chris Conti said. “It’s about the girls. The girls, they get excited, hoping they can bring a fourth one home. I’m just excited for them. They’re get excited to play and it’s great to be in the OVAC Championship. It’s a great conference to get into the championship.”

With the score tied at 2-2, the Blue Dons’ bats started to heat up in the top of the third inning as they compiled four consecutive hits as Karena Recrosio led it off with a single.

Katie Gasvoda and Maddie Daugherty mirrored Recrosio with a single of their own. Daugherty also brought home a run to give Madonna the lead for good. Keara Kush belted a triple that plated two runs to put the score at 5-2. Gianna Mascio and Kasey Canei were thrown out at first, but were able to secure a RBI for the final runs of the inning as the score read, 7-2 in favor of the Blue Dons.

“That was a big inning for us,” Conti said. “That was one of the innings we started going. It’s contagious. Once one person gets a hit, then everybody gets a hit.”

Gasvoda went the distance for the Blue Dons and fired a solid 12 strikeouts compared to four walks. After giving up a single to leadoff batter Hannah Loy to start the game, Gasvoda only gave up a double to Jenna Ferrebee (third inning) the rest of the way.

“We knew with the caliber of pitcher that we were facing that our only shot was to keep it as low-scoring as we can,” Paden City coach Chris Neff said. “And the only way we could do that is play perfect defense. We had two or three innings where the defense let us down a little bit and we gave up more runs than we probably should of. The game plan was there, ‘Keep the score low.’ We almost kept it low enough, but just not quite.”

Paden City gave one last comeback attempt in the seventh inning. The Wildcats were able to take advantage of three errors made by the Blue Dons as it scored two runs to put the score at 10-4. However, with one on and one out, the Blue Dons were able to get the final two outs on consecutive batters. Gasvoda fired her 12th strikeout to secure the victory.

“You have to put the ball in play, and you have to give yourself a chance,” Neff said. “We had some innings where we did that. We put the ball in play and we had some opportunities on the basepath. We did give ourselves a chance a few times.”

Daugherty led the way for the Blue Dons as she tallied two singles one triple and two RBI while Recrosio secured two singles. August Adkins came in to pinch-hit as she plated a run with a single.

Madonna 10, Paden City 4

Paden City 2-0-0 0-0-0 2 — 2 2 3

Madonna 1-0-5 2-1-0 x — 10 9 5

P: McIntyre lp (1SO, 1W), Stewart (3) (0SO, 1W), McIntyre (6) (0SO, 0W) and Moses. Ferrebee D.

M: Gasvoda wp (12SO, 4W) and J. Kush. K. Recrosio 2S, rbi; Daugherty T, 2S, rbi; T, 2rbi; Mascio rbi; Canei rbi; Adkins S, rbi; K. Kush T, 2rbi.

Madonna too strong for Roane County



APR 14, 2018


Sports correspondent


WEIRTON — Madonna capitalized on Roane County mistakes as Katie Gasvoda powered the Blue Dons yet again.

Madonna tallied three runs on errors, and another on a wild pitch, en route to a 5-1 victory over the Raiders in a softball game Friday at Starvaggi Park.

Gasvoda struck out 12, caught two popped-up bunts and had one assist, while limiting the Raiders to just two hits en route to recording the win. The Blue Dons fared a little better offensively, as they collected five hits, and Madonna made the most of some Roane County miscues.

“They made mistakes, but we had very good baserunning, enabling us to take advantage of those mistakes,” Madonna (4-1) head coach Chris Conti said. “We hit the ball hard. They had some nice pitchers. They did a nice job.

“We played well. We played well defensively, we hit the ball and we had good baserunning. Katie also pitched a very good game. We hit the ball hard. It was nice to be outside. This was our first game since Monday.”

Roane County committed four errors in the game.

“We had a case of nerves,” Roane County (12-3) head coach Sam Salvucci said. “We were playing at a place we have never been before. We came up here because we wanted to play a good team. They are a good team with a good pitcher, good catcher and good slap hitters. They are very well coached.”

The Raiders used two pitchers in the game. Olivia Mace started and took the loss. She struck out three and walked four. Shelby Lassiter pitched the final two innings, striking out none and walking one.

Gasvoda was not only dominant in the circle and in the field, but she also led Madonna with a pair of singles. Also for the Blue Dons, Sophia Recrosio ripped a triple, Maddie Daugherty and Gianna Mascio each tallied a base hit, and Karena Recrosio contributed an RBI.

Mace helped her own cause with a double to lead off the top of the fourth inning, and Hannah Lambert tallied an RBI single with two outs in the seventh.

Gasvoda robbed a pair of Raiders of hits when she made diving catches on bunts that were popped up between the circle and the plate.

“I am not a fan of her diving to make catches, but she covers the center of the field well,” Conti said. “Doing that shows she gives 110 percent.”

Sophia Recrosio walked to start the game, and she moved to second on a wild pitch. Then, Karena Recrosio reached on an error, enabling her to score to make it 1-0.

The Blue Dons extended their advantage with three runs in the third.

Gasvoda singled with one out, and Gia Riccadona came in to run for her. With Riccadona on third and Daugherty, who reached on an error, at second, Mace uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Riccadona to score. The throw to the plate got away from Mace, allowing Daugherty to score on the play as well to make the score 3-0.

With two outs, Jaedyn Kush drew a walk, and Miranda Sole scored. Mascio then popped up on the field, but the ball was dropped, allowing Sole to scamper around the bases to score Madonna’s fourth run.

In the fourth, Sophia Recrosio tripled to the gap in left-center. Karena Recrosio followed with a groundout to score her to increase Madonna’s advantage to 5-0.

“They are a very good team,” Conti said. “We knew they would play well. They have a good program. Katie did a good job against them. She seemed to get stronger as the game went on. We did a very good job today with our baserunning, our hitting, our defense and our pitching. We did well in everything.”

Conti added that he would like to continue to play Roane County.

“He always schedules Linsly,” he said. “I would like to keep playing them. I would like to go down there next year and play. We could play a game against them and maybe find another team to play down there. We have scheduled them before, but this was our first time playing them.”

Madonna is slated to play a doubleheader beginning at 12:30 p.m. at home against Wellsville. Roane County will play at Linsly.

Madonna 5, Roane County 1,

Roane County 0-0-0 0-0-0 1 — 1 2 4

Madonna 1-0-3 1-0-0 x — 5 5 2

Roane County (12-3): O. Mace (LP, 4IP, 5R (2ER), 4H, 3K, 4BB), Lassiter (2IP, 0R, 1H, 1K, 0BB) and A. Mace.

Madonna (4-1): Gasvoda (WP, CG, 1R, (1ER), 2H, 12K, 1BB) and J. Kush.

TWO OR MORE HITS: Roane County none; Madonna (Gasvoda 2). DOUBLES: Roane County 1 (O. Mace); Madonna none. TRIPLES: Roane County none; Madonna 1 (S. Recrosio). HOME RUNS: Roane County none; Madonna none. RBIs: Roane County Lambert; Madonna K. Recrosio.

Blue Dons get back to their winning ways



APR 7, 2018


Sports correspondent

EXCLAIMING — Madonna’s Katie Gasvoda reacts after delivering a pitch to Catholic Central on Friday. (Photo by Joe Catullo)

FOLLANSBEE — The Madonna softball team made fast work of Catholic Central.

Karena Recrosio recorded another strong day at the plate, and Katie Gasvoda was dominant once again inside the circle as the Blue Dons defeated the Crusaders, 12-0, in 2 1/2 innings Friday at Follansbee City Park.

“Today was a little better,” Madonna (2-1) head coach Chris Conti said. “We hit the ball better. The girls were focused. Katie pitched another good game. She has pitched well back-to-back. She just needs to keep on pitching. She needs to get some innings in. We had a couple of girls who have not been hitting started to get hits today. That is good.”

The Crusaders struggled in the field as they made four errors in the bottom of the second inning.

“You can’t give up eight unearned runs,” first-year Catholic Central (0-4) head coach Rick Gillette said. “Errors killed us. I’ve never seen our infield play like that. They are a good team.

“We are just going to continue to battle next week. We are going to keep working. I thought Torrie (Grandinetti) had good control. We had eight errors that killed us. We just have to keep battling. These girls will never quit. We just have to get it going.”

Gasvoda struck out eight, while not walking a batter en route to picking up the victory for the Blue Dons.

Grandinetti took the loss for Catholic Central. She struck out two and walked two.

The Blue Dons pounded out nine hits in the game — four of which went for extra bases. Karena Recoriso recorded two singles, a double and three RBIs. Maddie Daugherty tallied a single, a double and four RBIs. Sophia Recrosio contributed a single, a double and an RBI.

Karena Recrosio, a freshman, has recorded 10 hits in 11 at-bats through three games.

“Karena is doing really well,” Conti said. “She is hitting the ball well. She is a freshman. She is doing well. Katie is pitching well, and she is hitting the ball hard again this season.

“Some of our girls have been lacking a little bit of confidence, but they are doing better. The more games they play, they more confidence they are going to get.”

Brantley Turnage belted a single for the lone hit for the Crusaders.

Madonna plated three runs in the first, and nine more in the second.

“The girls were ready,” Conti said. “Yesterday was only our second time out on the field. It is hard when you are not out on the field. We have played two games in two days. We want to keep playing together.”

Madonna is scheduled to play a doubleheader at noon today against Cameron in Moundsville. Catholic Central is slated to play again at 5 p.m. Monday at home against East Liverpool.

Madonna 12, Catholic Central 0

Catholic Central 0-0-0 — 0 1 4

Madonna 3-9-x — 12 9 0

Catholic Central (0-4): Grandinetti (LP, CG, 12R, 9H, 2K, 2BB) and DiBiase.

Madonna (2-1): Gasvoda (WP, CG, 0R, 1H, 8K, 0BB) and K. Recrosio.

TWO OR MORE HITS: Catholic Central none; Madonna (K. Recrosio 3, S. Recrosio 2, Daugherty 2). DOUBLES: Catholic Central none; Madonna 4 (S. Recrosio, K. Recrosio, Daugherty, K. Kush). TRIPLES: Catholic Central none; Madonna none. HOME RUNS: Catholic Central none; Madonna none. RBIs: Catholic Central none; Madonna Daugherty 4, K. Recrosio 3, S. Recrosio.

Gasvoda no-hits Central in win



MAR 27, 2018


Sports correspondent

STEUBENVILLE — It was the best of starts, it was the worst of starts.

The Madonna softball team pounded out 16 hits in its much-awaited first game of the season, while Catholic Central was held without a hit by Katie Gasvoda as the Blue Dons defeated the Crusaders, 15-0, in five innings Monday at the Steve Zamana Softball Field.

“It was a great start,” veteran Madonna (1-0) head coach Chris Conti said. “We have practiced our hitting a lot, and I was impressed with the way we hit tonight.

“Katie pitched a great game. Whenever that happens and we score runs, we are going to win games. If Katie keeps pitching like that and we hit and score runs like that, we are going to win a lot of games.”

Eight girls had at least one hit for Madonna, and the Blue Dons belted five doubles and three triples.

Gasvoda struck out 13 while walking two in recording the no-hitter.

“She is really good,” first-year Catholic Central (0-1) head coach Rick Gillette said. “They are a well-coached team. They are tough. That girl is really good.

“We just have to battle. We are young. We are just starting out. We want to be competitive, and we want to get better each game. We are going to keep working, and we are going to continue to fight. We play Wheeling Central tomorrow, and we are going to be ready to go.”

Torrie Grandinetti took the loss for the Crusaders. She struck out two and walked three.

Offensively for Madonna, Gasvoda delivered a single, a double and a triple to go along with four RBIs. Karena Recrosio recorded two singles and two doubles. Maddie Daugherty tallied a single, a triple and two RBIs. Keara Kush added a single, a triple and an RBI.

“We played together, and we hit very well,” Conti said. “Sixteen hits is 16 hits. That is a great start. That is very good for our confidence. We hit the ball. We want to keep it going.”

The Crusaders had four players reach base. Two reached by walking, one reached after getting hit by a pitch and one reached on an error.

“It is a tough way to start the season with her and Wheeling Central,” Gillette said. “We expect to be up for the challenge. We are going to come back and battle again. We are going to keep battling.

“We have to hit the ball. That is the name of the game, and we have to make the routine plays. We had a couple of errors. We were down 6-0, and you have to fight back.”

Both teams are scheduled to play today, weather permitting. Catholic Central is slated to play Wheeling Central at 5 p.m. at home, while Madonna is scheduled to play Linsly at 5:30 p.m. on the road.

Madonna 15, Catholic Central 0

Madonna 6-5-2 2-0 – 15-16-1

Central 0-0-0 0-0 – 0-0-3

MADONNA (1-0): Gasvoda (WP, CG, 13K, 2BB) and J. Kush.

CENTRAL (0-1): Grandinetti (LP, 5IP, 15R, 12ER, 16H, 2K, 3BB) and Hanwood and DiBiase (2).

TWO OR MORE HITS: Madonna (K. Recrosio 4, Gasvoda 3, Daugherty 2, K. Kush 2); Catholic Central none. DOUBLES: Madonna 5 (K. Recrosio 2, S. Recrosio, Gasvoda, J. Kush); Catholic Central none. TRIPLES: Madonna 3 (Gasvoda, Daugherty, K. Kush); Catholic Central none. HOME RUNS: Madonna none; Catholic Central none. RBIs: Madonna Gasvoda 4, Daugherty 2, K. Kush; Catholic Central none.


"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