WHEELERSBURG — The Wheelersburg Pirates got all they wanted from Friday’s menu.
That’s because the ‘Burg softballers not only got a home sectional championship shutout, but they got the Division III district semifinal matchup they wanted as well.
As expected, inside Gene Bennett Park in Wheelersburg, the Pirates — the top-seeded squad in the entire Division III Southeast District tournament —posted an easy sectional title victory, and blanked the visiting Mustangs by a count of 17-0.
The contest was called following the fifth inning with the 10-run mercy rule, as Wheelersburg scored once in the first frame for all the runs it actually needed —followed by three more markers in the second stanza, two more in the third, and finally 11 in the fourth for the final of 17.
The Pirates sent 13 batters to the plate in the fourth, but all it took was Rylie Hughes singling with two outs in the opening inning — and Macee Eaton singling her home and combined with an error in right field.
Wheelersburg went up 2-0 in the second —when hurler Andi Jo Howard helped her cause with a solo home run.
The Pirates then hit their second home run of the game, and the team’s 40th for the entire season, when Eaton amassed a two-run shot for the final two markers.
That was Wheelersburg’s 17th hit as well, as Howard, Hughes, and Haley Myers muscled three apiece, including an RBI-double by Myers.
Eaton added two hits and tied Howard in runs batted in with three, as Brynley Preston and Rileigh Lang landed two hits apiece —with Preston plating a pair of runs and Lang one.
Sydney Skiver doubled in the third with one out, as Boo Sturgill rounded out the Pirate parade of hits with an RBI-single.
For Howard, who faced 18 total Mustangs, her only hits allowed were a first-inning two-out double by Snider and a second-inning one-out single by her pitching counterpart McKinney.
She struck out four, did not walk nor hit a Mustang, and retired nine of the opening 11 batters she saw.
Snider reached on an error in the fourth, but was erased on the bases as part of back-to-back fielder’s choices.
Howard then sat down the final four Mustang hitters, including the final two with swinging strikeouts.
With the win, the Pirates pushed their impressive record to 22-1 —and won their eighth consecutive sectional championship and 11th overall.
The other three titles came in 2004, 2007 and 2008 —as the entire 2020 season was canceled because of the coronavirus threat.
Wheelersburg will now host Leesburg Fairfield for the Division III district semifinals —with first pitch pushed back on Wednesday to 7:45 p.m.
The Lions, which upset the Pirates in the district championship tilt two years ago, are the 13th-seeded squad in the Division III Southeast District tournament —and advanced to the district round by defeating Huntington 4-3 on Friday for their 34th sectional crown in program history.
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