Red Riders’ season ends with Game 3 loss | News, Sports, Jobs – The Steubenville Herald-Star

May 16, 2024
IN THE CIRCLE — Weir High starting pitcher Eliza Utt winds up to fire a pitch during Wednesday’s Game 3 of the Region 1 Championship Series against Keyser. The Red Riders’ season ended with a 3-1 loss. – Andrew Grimm
WEIRTON — The Weir High softball team is going to have a long offseason of wondering what if.
For a second straight day in the Class AA Region 1 Championship Series Wednesday, the Red Riders had an early lead looking to advance to the state tournament. Unfortunately for Weir High, for a second straight day the bats went cold and the early lead did not stand up as visiting Keyser rallied again to win the deciding third game in the best-of-three, 3-1, and instead be the ones headed to Charleston.
The Golden Tornado rallied back from a 4-0 hole in Game 2 at Keyser on Tuesday to stay alive after Weir High had rallied to take Game 1 on Monday. The team that scored first lost all three games in the series.
“There’s a lot of disappointment,” Weir head coach John Leary said. “This is very disappointing. We lost this series (Tuesday) when we had a 4-0 lead through two innings and decided to stop playing for whatever reason. I think we thought we had it won, but a wounded animal is a dangerous animal and (Keyser) has been in this game the last three years against Oak Glen, they’re battle tested. They did what we had been doing all year — they kept playing and battled back. We had them on the deck and we let them up, we let them up and they came up swinging. As often times happens when you get staggered like that and have to come back the next day for that third game, it’s in the back of your mind that you should have finished it and they now have all the momentum.
“They deserved to win (Tuesday) and they deserved to win (Wednesday). In the last two games, the better team won because they executed. Softball is a funny game, you get what you deserve. We had trouble making fundamental plays, getting bunts down. We had two hits right off the bat and then nothing the rest of the game — that’s unacceptable.”
The Red Riders, who close the season at 22-12, got on the board first Wednesday in the bottom of the first when Eliza Utt led off with a triple and scored on a wild pitch. Rayna Hoover, who had been the hero in the sectional deciding game, followed it up with a single to give Weir another base runner with no one out.
That, however, would be the last hit Keyser (25-9) starter Rylee Mangold would give up as she shut down the Weir bats the rest of the way, finishing with a complete game two-hitter and seven strikeouts. She fanned six in 4 2/3 scoreless innings of relief work on Tuesday, allowing Keyser to come back in that game after Weir had also jumped out early.
Weir clung to the 1-0 lead until the top of the fourth, when Keyser’s Bibs Felton and Makayla Gillaspie hit back-to-back sac flies to put the Golden Tornado on top.
The Red Riders had a chance to get even when Hoover and Game 1 hero Kylie Dean were walked and plunked to put two on with no one out in the bottom of the fourth, and were moved over to second and third with one out by a sac bunt from Bella Weber, but the next two batters struck out to leave them stranded.
The Red Riders then went down in order in the fifth, sixth and seventh, while Felton cranked a solo homer in the top of the sixth for some added insurance.
Utt turned in a solid outing in the circle of her own, striking out eight in a complete game.
The Red Riders did not have any seniors, meaning the entire group that won an OVAC and sectional title will be back. Leary hopes the bitter losses are something for the group to learn from and use as motivation.
“I told them that when we’re working this winter getting ready for next season there are two things that ought to stick in their minds — we got two hits in a regional final game that we had to win and we couldn’t get bunts down,” Leary said. “The nice part is we don’t have any seniors. Hopefully they use this as motivation and learn from it.
“It was a good season, I’m proud of them for winning the OVAC and the section, but right now it just feels like we should have done more.
“It hurts now, but when we step back and look at the season as a whole, for basically rebuilding, having new people in different spots and reconfiguring the lineup, basically being a new team, we accomplished a lot. This was our fourth 20-win season in a row, that’s something to be proud of, too.”
WVSSAC Region 1 Championship Series
Game 3 at Roberta DeFrances Softball Field
Keyser 3, Weir High 1
Keyser wins series, 2-1
Keyser 0-0-0 2-0-1 0 – 3 5 0
Weir High 1-0-0 0-0-0 0 – 1 2 0
KEYSER (25-9): Mangold (WP, CG, 1R, 1ER, 2H, 7K, 2BB) and Likens. Felton HR, 2RBI; Likens D; Mangold S; Gillaspie S, RBI; Cosenza S.
WEIR HIGH (22-12): Utt (LP, CG, 3R, 2ER, 5H, 8K, 4BB) and Barton. Utt T; Hoover S.
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