WHEELING - Prior to Wednesday's Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Class 1A softball semifinal against Madonna, Bishop Donahue coach Curt Mele stressed to his squad the importance of pouncing early.
His players listened.
The Bishops jumped out to a 5-0 lead and scored seven seventh-inning runs in besting the Blue Dons, 14-4, in the finale of a set of three OVAC Tournament contests at Lisa's Field.
Bishop Donahue will face St. John at 10:30 Saturday morning for the championship.
''It's been a long time coming, especially for these juniors,'' Mele said. ''They've taken some beatings the last couple of years, and I hope things are starting to come together at the right time.''
The Bishops already have an OVAC-best 13 softball championship banners and will look to add another against an Irish squad that blanked Conotton Valley, 6-0. The teams split a doubleheader earlier this season.
''St. John is a very well-coached team,'' Mele said. ''(Coach Jerry Magistro's) numbers are down a bit, but the players he has are all good players.
''We're gonna have our hands full. We're gonna have to come out and play an almost perfect game.''
Bishop Donahue's performance Wednesday was far from perfect, but when a play was needed someone stepped up, whether it be at the plate or in the field.
''It was just a great all-around effort,'' Mele said. ''From Guze (Andrea Guzek) in the circle to the defense behind her. There were several times early on when (Madonna) had girls on second and third, or at third, and we did what we had to do.''
The Blue Dons left 11 runners on base, including two in each of the first three innings.
''We just didn't hit the ball,'' Madonna coach Chris Conti said. ''If you don't hit, you don't win.''
The Blue Dons actually had two more hits than the Bishops, but weren't able to get them at the right time.
''We didn't hit the ball when we needed to in key situations,'' Conti said. ''If we would have done that the game might have had a different outlook.''
Sara Lyons and Isabella Anile scored for Madonna in the fifth to cut the lead to 5-2.
Donahue responded with two more runs in the top of the sixth to boost the lead back to 7-2. Tess Fallova's RBI single highlighted the inning.
The Blue Dons drew to within 7-4 in the bottom of the sixth on RBI hits by Lyons and Anile.
But in the seventh, the floodgates opened for the Bishops and they batted around in ending any threat of a Madonna comeback.
''Give credit to Madonna,'' Mele said, ''They kept battling back and battling back. I never felt safe.
"It wasn't until we went ahead by 10 that I started thinking about Saturday.''
Madonna committed six errors, most of which came in the latter innings.
''When you make mental mistakes, you're going to lose the game,'' Conti said. ''You just can't make mental mistakes in the field, hitting the ball or running the bases.
"You just can't make those mistakes in tournament play.''
Bishop Donahue 14, Madonna 4
Bishop Donahue 201 022 7 - 14 8 1
Madonna 000 022 0 - 4 10 6
BISHOP DONAHUE: Guzek (WP, 2K, 5BB) and Scott. Fallova 2S, rbi; Wolfe T, S, 2rbi; Guzek S, 2rbi; Ghaphery S, rbi; Carroll D, 2rbi.
MADONNA: Pulice (LP, 4K, 6BB) and Magnone. Moss S, rbi; Lyons 2S; Anile 2S, rbi; Magnone S, rbi; Paul 2S.