Bears break through

NEW MANCHESTER, W.Va. — Through the first five games this season, the Oak Glen softball team has struggled producing runs offensively.

The main reason the Golden Bears have been playing well is pitching, with Janaya Montgomery and Maddie McKay leading the way. Montgomery and McKay performed well again against Madonna on Wednesday, but the team needed more than just a run or two.

Oak Glen finally came through in the clutch during its 8-3 victory, even when the Blue Dons (0-1) were getting momentum in the fourth inning.

“I think they had some grit. They just knew that in order to tie the game, they had to come forward with some runs,” Oak Glen head coach Sherrie Garner said. “They had confidence after they saw that pitcher (Nina Daugherty) for the first time, and she’s a good pitcher. She has a lot of movement and is tricky.”

The Golden Bears (3-3) held an early 3-0 advantage going into the top of the fourth inning. Madonna’s first three batters reached base safely — thanks to a walk, single and an error — and forced Montgomery out of the circle.

McKay replaced her but allowed a one-out RBI single to Jordan Schubert and a two-out, two-run base knock to MiKayla Sole to tie the score. Both hits were jammed bloopers to shallow right field.

The Golden Bears responded, however, with a three-run fourth of their own. With two away, Hannah Walker ripped an RBI triple to right-center field. Two batters later, Eileen Flowers delivered a two-run single.

McKay settled down on the mound and only allowed two runners through walks the rest of the way, while striking out eight overall, to pick up the victory. Montgomery allowed three runs on three hits, three walks and no strikeouts.

“Montgomery did her job, and the girls behind her made the outs. She has a great support staff to work with,” Garner said. “Her and Maddie do a great job of complimenting each other. We’re real proud of them.”

Oak Glen added single runs in the next two frames. Walker recorded her second RBI on a fielder’s choice in the fifth, while Flowers drove home McKay with a single after tripling to lead off the sixth. Both runs came off of reliever Maddie Daugherty.

Nina Daugherty made her high school pitching debut for the Blue Dons but took the loss. She pitched four innings, allowing six runs on eight hits, three walks and struck out one.

“I’m very proud of these girls,” Madonna head coach Chris Conti said. “We have a lot of girls who never played a lot these positions out here, and they did one heck of a job. We hit the ball well for a lot of girls who never played the game before. This was the first time Nina ever pitched in a high school game, but she did a heck of a job. They were down but didn’t give up.”

Oak Glen put a dent in the scoreboard first with a two-run second inning. Aiden Hall and McKayla Goodlin produced back-to-back RBI singles, while Amber Moore had one of her own in the third.

Wednesday marked the season opener for the Blue Dons, compared to six for their rival. It showed in many ways.

“You have to figure we’ve only been on the field about four times, so this was really the first time,” Conti said. “We just told the girls to come out and have fun playing in the dirt, and they did. That’s what it’s all about. This team is fun to coach because they’re upbeat all the time.”

“I think so, but they’re well-coached,” Garner said. “Chris Conti does a great job. He prepares them very well, and it didn’t appear to be that. We’ve been fortunate enough to play five games before the first day of spring, but they certainly came out. They had some crucial hits and were able to produce runs.”

Oak Glen is back in action at 5:30 p.m. today, hosting Wheeling Park. Madonna travels to Roane County on Friday.

MADONNA: 0-0-0 3-0-0 0 — 3-5-4

OAK GLEN: 0-2-1 3-1-1 x — 8-10-1

MADONNA (0-1): N. Daugherty (LP, 4IP, 6R (5ER), 8H, 3BB, 1K), M. Daugherty (2IP, 2R (1ER), 2H, 0BB, 1K) and Mir. Sole.

OAK GLEN (3-3): Montgomery (3IP, 3R, 3H, 3BB, 0K), McKay (WP, 4IP, 0R, 2H, 2BB, 8K) and Walker.

TWO OR MORE HITS: Madonna none; Oak Glen (McKay 2, Flowers 2, Moore 2, Goodlin 2). DOUBLES: none. TRIPLES: Madonna none; Oak Glen 2 (Walker, McKay). HOME RUNS: none. RBIs: Madonna (MiK. Sole 2, Schubert); Oak Glen (Walker 2, Flowers 3, Moore, Hall, Goodlin).