In an exhilarating regional semifinal showdown, the Marlington Dukes showcased their power on the diamond as they defeated St. Vincent-St. Mary 12-3 Wednesday afternoon at Nordonia High School.
This victory not only propelled Marlington into the regional final but also etched a remarkable milestone in the team’s history. Marlington pitcher Sofia Nase set a new school record for wins in a season by a Marlington pitcher, reaching an outstanding total of 20 victories this spring.
The game kicked off with Marlington taking charge right from the start.
In the top of the first inning, Marlington’s Audrey Miller ignited the offense with stinger to second base, swiftly followed by Emma Jackson’s blooper that turned into an error, allowing her to reach second and Miller to advance to third.
Although Maria Walder faced a strikeout for the first out, Ava Collins stepped up to the plate with a vengeance. Collins drove the ball to right center, resulting in a triple that brought in both Jackson and Miller. Marlington’s Ashlynn Maurer delivered a solid hit between second and short, bringing in Collins for another run. The inning came to a close on a double play, leaving Marlington in the lead with a score of 3-0.
“One of the things we talked about all year was giving us the opportunity to get to the state tournament,” said Marlington coach Joe Tagliarini “These girls have given themselves that opportunity.”
St. Vincent-St. Mary struggled to make an impact in the bottom of the first inning, going three up and three down without scoring any runs. Marlington’s defense held strong, setting the tone for the rest of the game.
The second inning passed without any scoring from either team, but St. Vincent-St. Mary finally found a breakthrough in the bottom of the second. Avarie Mays led off the inning with a solo home run, putting St. Vincent-St. Mary on the scoreboard at 3-1. However, Marlington’s Sofia Nase responded fiercely, striking out the next three batters to halt any further scoring. The Dukes maintained their lead at 3-1.
Tagliarini said the homerun that was given up was his fault, saying he called a bad pitch.
“We’re gonna clean some things up and we’ll be ready for Friday,” he said.
Undeterred by their opponents’ minor setback, Marlington surged forward in the top of the third inning. Collins kick-started the offensive charge with a single to right-center field, followed by Mauer’s single to shallow left. Collins advanced to second base, setting the stage for Cheyanne Knapp to lay a bunt down the first base line.
Collins dashed home from second, extending Marlington’s lead to 4-1, while Maurer moved to third. Knapp safely reached first base and promptly stole second on the subsequent pitch, leaving Marlington with a promising position and no outs. However, St. Vincent-St. Mary managed to recover, forcing a pop-out to short for the first out and then executing a pivotal double play as Grace Nase’s attempted bunt resulted in a pop-up to the pitcher, who quickly threw Maurer out at third base, stopping Marlington’s scoring opportunity.
The bottom of the third inning came and went without any hits for St. Vincent-St. Mary, with Marlington’s solid defense maintaining their lead at 4-1.
As the game progressed into the fourth inning, Marlington’s offense continued to fire on all cylinders.
Miller hammered a double down the right field line, setting up an advantageous position with one out. Emma Jackson swiftly followed suit with a double of her own, propelling Miller to third base. Despite a strikeout from Walder, Marlington had an opportunity to widen the gap.
Sensing the threat, St. Vincent-St. Mary intentionally walked Collins, loading the bases with two outs. However, the move backfired on St. Vincent-St. Mary as Maurer stepped up and blasted a double to center field off the fence. Jackson, Miller and Collins scored on the double to increase the Dukes lead to 7-1.
“I really think it’s what probably gives our strength of our team as we have depth throughout the lineup,” Marlington’s coach said. “The bottom of our order and the middle of our order just seem like they always keep rolling it through giving us more opportunities.”
SVSM scored their second run of the game in the bottom of the fifth to cut into Marlington’s lead at 7-2.
The Marlington Dukes continued their offensive onslaught in the top of the sixth inning. Ava Collins hit a smoking line drive to left field, evading the third baseman’s reach and securing a single. With Collins on base, Mauer stepped up to the plate and connected with a ball to left field, advancing Collins into scoring position.
Knapp followed suit, delivering a hit that sailed past the second baseman and into the outfield, allowing Collins to sprint home. Marlington extended their lead to 8-2.
The hits kept coming as Maddie Bailey joined the action, sending a well-placed hit to left field. Mauer, who had been patiently waiting on third base, capitalized on the opportunity and swiftly crossed home plate, adding another run for Marlington, now leading 9-2.
With Knapp in scoring position, Delaney Martz seized the moment, hit the ball to the second basemen who threw her out at first but allowed Knapp to score as the Dukes’ lead increased to 10-2.
In the top of the seventh inning, Marlington continued to pile on the runs, determined to leave no doubt about the outcome of the game. The Dukes added two more runs to their already impressive tally, strengthening their grip on the game with a commanding 12-2 lead.
SVSM plated their final run of the game in the bottom of the seventh inning but it wasn’t enough as Marlington cruised to a 12-3 victory.
Marlington finished the game with 18 hits. Both Maurer and Knapp went 5-for-5 at the plate.
Marlington will be back in action Friday, May 26 at Nordonia HS for the regional final against Canfield. First pitch at 5pm.