OHSAA?district week begins today

It’s district week around the state of Ohio.

In the immediate area, only four baseball and/or softball teams remain alive in the Ohio High School Athletic Association tournament.

While baseball and softball players – for the most part – have wrapped up their seasons, prep track and field athletes begin their quests for the postseason with the regular season having wrapped up last week.

The only area baseball team still alive is St. Clairsville. The Red Devils were the last area team standing a season ago when they advanced to the Division III regional tournament in Athens.

Coach Tom Sliva’s squad is on the cusp of a return trip to the Sweet 16 and a date with Tusky Valley awaits in Wednesday’s D-III district title game. The Red Devils and Trojans will clash on Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Vaccaro Field in Steubenville.

Both teams had serious battles on their hands to reach this point. St. C. had to strike five times in the bottom of the seventh to eliminate rival Bellaire, 6-5, last Friday at Cambridge.

A night earlier, Tusky Valley needed 15 innings before it dispatched Coshocton, 7-5. Tusky Valley has been an upstart through the tournament. It’s now 9-20 on the season and has posted victories against the No. 2, No. 3 and No. 5 seeds to earn a trip to the district for the first time since 2007.

The winner of the Eastern District will make the lengthy trek to Chillicothe for a regional semifinal game on May 24 at 5 p.m.

IN SOFTBALL, the path continues for St. John Central, River and Martins Ferry.

The Lady Irish, in the district for the 11th time in 12 seasons, will face an acid test in Tuscarawas Central Catholic, which is ranked No. 3 in the state poll, on its home field in New Philadelphia this afternoon.

The Lady Irish dispatched Beallsville and Bridgeport en route to this game against a Lady Saints’ club, which took out Rosecrans and Hiland, but needed a two-run walk-off home run to take out the Lady Hawks.

River, meanwhile, will take on two-time defending state champion and number one ranked Strasburg at 5 p.m. in New Philadelphia on Tuesday. The Lady Pilots ousted Shadyside in a 2-1 nail biter last Friday, while Strasburg (23-4) hammered Malvern, 14-0.

Monday and Tuesday’s winners will clash again at New Philadelphia on Thursday at 5 p.m. for a trip to the regional in Pickerington.

Martins Ferry, meanwhile, is in its third straight district under head coach Paige Williams. The Lady Riders have come on of late. They ousted Shenandoah and Harrison Central for the trip to Cambridge City Park on Wednesday.

The Lady Riders will meet Claymont at 5 p.m. and the winner advances to the regional tournament at Brookside Park in Ashland. Claymont, which is 12-11, edged West Muskingum in 15 innings in the first round and then ousted Newcomerstown by a run in the sectional final.

IN TRACK and field, the tournament is slightly more confusing this season than in years’ past because of the large number of schools in Division III.

The Division III boys’ schools will compete in one large meet, consisting of 25 schools, with the top four in each event advancing to the regional meet at Fairless High School in Navarre.

The girls, meanwhile, had 26 schools and they were divided into two districts – A and B – and will compete at Newcomerstown with the schools in District A advancing to the regional at Lancaster Fairfield Union, but the District B schools qualify the top four in each event to Navarre.

The schools in A, which will have their boys and girls’ teams split, include Barnesville, Beallsville, Rosecrans, Bridgeport, Buckeye Trail, Caldwell, East Richland Christian, Fort Frye, Frontier, Monroe Central, River, Shenandoah and Shadyside.

The schools in B include: Bellaire, Steubenville Central, Conotton Valley, Hiland, Malvern, Martins Ferry, Newcomerstown, Ridgewood, St. John Central, Strasburg, Toronto and Tuscarawas Central Catholic.

In Division II, Meadowbrook High School and West Holmes High School are still the hosts for the meets, which will send their top four finishers to the regional at The Plains High School in Athens after numerous years of the meeting being held at Meadowbrook.

The field at Meadowbrook includes: Buckeye Local, Cambridge, Edison, Indian Creek, John Glenn, Martins Ferry (boys), Maysville, Meadowbrook, Morgan, Philo, St. Clairsville, Steubenville and Union Local.

Harrison Central is the lone area team that’s dispatched to West Holmes.

Staskey can be reached at