By JOHN BUTERA
POLAND -- The Struthers High softball team had plenty to celebrate Thursday night, as the Wildcats defeated Poland, 3-1, their first victory over the Bulldogs since 1997.
Struthers' victory also tightened the Metro Athletic Conference race. The Wildcats and Canfield are 6-3 in the MAC, while Poland is 6-2. Struthers is 15-5 overall, while the Bulldogs 15-7.
The Wildcats managed just two hits, but were able to come up with three runs to negate an outstanding pitching performance from Poland's Sarah Knill (12-4).
Impressive: Pitcher Tina Palumbo (10-4) of Struthers was just as impressive, scattering five hits. "It's Poland," said Palumbo. "I've been waiting four years to beat them."
Score without hit: Struthers scored without a hit in the first inning. Katy Shurilla reached base on an error and came around to score when Michele Firmstone grounded out to second base.
That lead held up until Struthers scored two more unearned runs in the sixth.
Poland, down to its last strike, managed its lone run in the home half of the seventh inning, but could do no further damage.
Coach Tom Krestel of Struthers said, "We were very disappointed when they beat us the last time because we did nothing right. Today, we made the most of our opportunities."
Coach Reid Lamport of Poland said, "We should have scored more runs but she [Palumbo] pitched a good game and forced us to swing at bad pitches."