Pirates power past Mohawks


Eaton hits 2 3-run HR in 9-1 Burg win

By Paul Boggs - [email protected]



Wheelersburg senior Brynley Preston catches an AndiJo Howard pitch during the Pirates’ Division III softball district semifinal game against Northwest on Monday at Unioto High School.

Wheelersburg senior Brynley Preston catches an AndiJo Howard pitch during the Pirates’ Division III softball district semifinal game against Northwest on Monday at Unioto High School.


Paul Boggs | Daily Times

Northwest senior Alison Throckmorton (8) makes contact with this pitch during the Mohawks’ Division III softball district semifinal game against Wheelersburg on Monday at Unioto High School.


Paul Boggs | Daily Times

Wheelersburg sophomore AndiJo Howard (32) delivers a pitch to a Northwest batter during Monday’s Division III softball district semifinal game at Unioto High School.


Paul Boggs | Daily Times

Wheelersburg freshman Catie Boggs (20) slides safely into third base during the Pirates’ Division III softball district semifinal game against Northwest on Monday at Unioto High School.


Paul Boggs | Daily Times

CHILLICOTHE — It’s a new postseason tournament, but it’s the same old story, or in this case letter of the alphabet, for the high-powered Wheelersburg High School softball squad — if you poll one Teresa Ruby.

“A ‘W’ looks like a ‘W’. There’s no comments or narrative needed after,” said Ruby, the veteran and highly-successful Pirate head coach, with a slight laugh. “A ‘W is a W’, and absolutely always excited to still be playing. We know what we need to do each game, what we need to work on, and we’ll prepare. It’s hard to play a team three times and bring the energy we always want to bring, but it’s another situation of survive and advance and this is just what you do. It’s another step for us.”

Indeed, few softball squads prepare quite like the now 22-1 Pirates —and much more often than not, even in facing a familiar Southern Ohio Conference Division Division II foe, that preparation pays enormous dividends.

On Monday, the top-seeded club for the entire Southeast District Division III dispatched 12th-seeded Northwest in a district semifinal at Unioto High School —with Wheelersburg scoring the final nine runs, including two-thirds of them courtesy of junior slugger Macee Eaton, en route to a 9-1 runaway win.

The Pirates, the top-ranked Ohio High School Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association statewide poll team for Division III too, posted its third win over the Mohawks this season —but only one of those came via mercy rule, with Wheelersburg winning the first regular-season SOC II matchup 8-2.

So give credit to the youthful Mohawks, under first-year head coach Chad Hawes, for having his charges —with only senors Haley Hawes and Alison Throckmorton —back in the district tournament, despite having to face the defending Region 11 champion and state powerhouse Pirates.

And, nobody brings the power quite like Eaton — who blasted not one but two three-run home runs on Monday, propelling the Pirates with leads of 3-1 after the opening inning and 9-1 following the fourth.

Facing Northwest pitcher Madison Puckett, the three-hole hitter Eaton approached the plate in the first — following back-to-back singles by Catie Boggs and Haley Myers.

Eaton took the first Puckett pitch she saw over the right-field fence for the 3-1 edge, as the feat repeated itself in the fourth.

Puckett was still pitching, Boggs and Myers led off the Pirate at-bat with back-to-back singles, and this time Eaton originally blasted one towards right field again —only it sailed foul and in proximity to the Unioto High School baseball field.

But have no fear, as Eaton ended up homering over the left-field fence later in the at-bat with a full count—making it 9-1 and giving the University of Virginia verbal commit her half-dozen runs batted in a district tournament tilt.

She later singled in the sixth stanza, and drew a leadoff walk in the third —finishing 3-for-3 as the Mohawks, Coach Hawes and Puckett pitched to her and didn’t back away.

Eaton also scored three runs — including in the third when she walked, advanced to second on a wild pitch, moved to third on an Andi Jo Howard single, and crossed when Rileigh Lang singled her in.

Howard and Lang later scored in the third when the Mohawks’ third error cost them dearly.

That was off the bat of Lyndsay Heimbach, who had singled in Wheelersburg’s scoreless second.

The Pirates’ remaining hits followed Eaton’s second home run —when Howard doubled in the fourth, and Eaton and Sydney Skiver singled in the sixth.

Indeed, while Eaton sent softballs out of the park, the remainder of Ruby’s Pirates put the ball in play.

Both coaches concurred it’s a winning Wheelersburg formula, as it puts pressure on opponents to avoid defensive mistakes.

“We want to put pressure on them and make them have to execute,” said Ruby. “We did that today. We had moments where we played well and there were things we need to get better at, but we put the ball in play for the most part.”

“When you play Wheelersburg, you can’t have errors and give them extra outs. We did that a little bit, and they make you pay for it,” said Hawes.

Then, the Pirates have a 1-2 complimentary pitching punch —of the sophomore Howard and freshman Kaylynn Carter.

Howard pitched the first five for the win, with her first seven outs going for strikeouts —part of her eight Ks total.

Speaking of eight, she retired eight in a row including five consecutive fannings —before she walked a pair of Mohawks in Puckett and Lauren Redoutey in the fourth, prior to getting the final two outs to end the threat.

Her first-inning run allowed was unearned, as Mollyann Runyon reached on a two-out error —and later scored following a Throckmorton single and another Pirate miscue.

In the fifth, she gave up a one-out Jeannette Mustain single and a two-out Runyon walk, but for the second consecutive inning, induced a 1-5 fielder’s choice.

Carter completed the game, facing the minimum six Mohawks with a pair of strikeouts.

Puckett’s fifth and sixth runs allowed were unearned —as she struck out one and actually retired seven straight Pirates, and nine of her final 11.

A healthy Howard, a complimentary Carter, and a defense making plays behind that tandem only makes Wheelersburg better.

“They have a good change of pace with their two pitchers. That’s a great 1-2 combination for them,” said Hawes.

Ruby agreed.

“We’re getting AndiJo back healthy at the right time. I think you can see that in her pitching right now. She mixes speeds and locations and she’s got some nice spin on it,” said the coach. “Bringing Kaylynn in gives us a good combination.”

For the Mohawks, with Tuesday’s 15-3 SOC II makeup win over Eastern, they finished 13-13.

Hawes hopes it’s just the start of the program becoming regular district semifinalists.

“It’s been a while since we’ve won a sectional and been up here (district semifinal). Not sure exactly how long. Maybe eight years or more. And we’re a young team. So this is a stepping stone to where we want to be up here every year,” he said. “It’s a good learning experience for the girls. We have a lot of kids coming back next year and we’re excited for what the future holds.”

“Chad (Hawes) has done a great job at Northwest this season and their improvement this year is a compliment to him, his staff and his team,” echoed Ruby.

But regulars each year in the district championship bout are indeed the Pirates, which face seventh-seeded Ironton on Saturday for the Southeast District Division III final.

Game time is set for 11 a.m. at Unioto, as Ironton doubled up Adena 6-3 in another district semifinal from Monday.

Last season, the Pirates topped the Fighting Tigers in the regional championship game — advancing to the state tournament in the process.

They’ll face Ironton standout and power pitcher and Ohio University signee Keegan Moore one last time —only this time the Pirates play for another district title.

In the meantime, there’s always preparations for the Pirates —per Ruby.

“Some things we didn’t do well today. It’s those little things that can become big things that really matter in tight games we have get better at,” she said.

Wheelersburg senior Brynley Preston catches an AndiJo Howard pitch during the Pirates’ Division III softball district semifinal game against Northwest on Monday at Unioto High School.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2022/05/web1_NW-Burg-softball-Preston-catch-2.jpgWheelersburg senior Brynley Preston catches an AndiJo Howard pitch during the Pirates’ Division III softball district semifinal game against Northwest on Monday at Unioto High School. Paul Boggs | Daily Times

Northwest senior Alison Throckmorton (8) makes contact with this pitch during the Mohawks’ Division III softball district semifinal game against Wheelersburg on Monday at Unioto High School.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2022/05/web1_NW-Burg-softball-NW-hit-1-2.jpgNorthwest senior Alison Throckmorton (8) makes contact with this pitch during the Mohawks’ Division III softball district semifinal game against Wheelersburg on Monday at Unioto High School. Paul Boggs | Daily Times

Wheelersburg sophomore AndiJo Howard (32) delivers a pitch to a Northwest batter during Monday’s Division III softball district semifinal game at Unioto High School.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2022/05/web1_NW-Burg-Howard-pitch-1-2.jpgWheelersburg sophomore AndiJo Howard (32) delivers a pitch to a Northwest batter during Monday’s Division III softball district semifinal game at Unioto High School. Paul Boggs | Daily Times

Wheelersburg freshman Catie Boggs (20) slides safely into third base during the Pirates’ Division III softball district semifinal game against Northwest on Monday at Unioto High School.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2022/05/web1_NW-Burg-softball-Boggs-slide-1-2.jpgWheelersburg freshman Catie Boggs (20) slides safely into third base during the Pirates’ Division III softball district semifinal game against Northwest on Monday at Unioto High School. Paul Boggs | Daily Times
Eaton hits 2 3-run HR in 9-1 Burg win

By Paul Boggs

[email protected]

Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved

Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved