RIPLEY - Ripley High's softball team started the season off in fine fashion winning their first seven games and securing a well deserved spot in the top 10 AAA West Virginia softball rankings.
On gorgeous Saturday without a cloud in the sky, Ripley (7-1) split a double header with a stubborn, good hitting Winfield squad.
Ripley took the first game 8-4 as the ladies mashed 14 hits and received a fine effort from starting pitcher Chelsey Hager.
The Lady Vikings jumped out to a 5-0 lead on the strength of Hager's arm, timely hitting and rugged defense.
Ali Cunningham swiped three bases and Meghan Brannon took two bases herself. Cunningham now unofficially has ten on the season. She led the squad with 12 in 2012.
The fourth inning was Hager's only hiccup in a well-pitched game. She gave up four singles in the inning and her squad made an error in that frame. Winfield plated three runs in the inning and that would end their scoring in this contest.
Hager hurled a complete game and gave up 12 hits and four runs, three of them earned. She struck out six and walked two.
Each team committed two errors each.
Ripley's bats were very much alive in game one.
Kelsey Moore was 2-for-4 with a double and two runs scored. Ali Cunningham 1-for-4, two runs and three stolen bases, Meghan Brannon 2-for-4 with a double,two runs,an RBI and a pair of stolen bases. Dusti Fisher 1-for-4, Chelsey Hager 1-for-4 with an RBI and a stolen base, Darby Petersen 2-for-3 with an RBI, Ashley Mellinger 1-for-3, Myranda Murphy 2-for-3 with a run, Hannah Ford 2-for-3 with a run scored and a stolen base and Sapphire Parsons had a stolen base.
In game two the Lady Vikings made a furious rally but came up a little short with the game ending with a close call at the dish and Ripley fell, 7-6.
Winfield had plated four runs in the sixth to take a 7-4 lead. Myranda Murphy singled with ducks on the pond in the seventh inning and Madisyn Hinzman was called out on a bang-bang play at home plate that ended the matchup.
While disappointed in the outcome, coach Ken Swisher had perspective on the afternoon.
"I like the way the girls came together and rallied under pressure. There are going to be games where we need come back and we responded the way I hoped we would. We have a few days off now without a game and we can gain some perspective. I really like our team," said Swisher.
Coach Swisher's coaching counterpart on this day was former Lady Viking slugger Kelli (Rose) Montgomery. Rose was a 1998 RHS graduate and still holds several Lady Viking records. She did not play for coach Swisher.
All State pitcher Reese Gandee was on the hill for Ripley and was victimized by some loose defense on the infield in this game.
Gandee only gave up three earned runs over 5.1 innings pitched but five crossed the dish. She was charged with eight hits and struck out one batter. She issued no free passes.
Darby Petersen pitched (.2) innings and gave up two earned runs. She walked one and struck out one.
In the hitting department, Kelsey Moore scored a run.
Ali Cunningham 2-for-3 with a run and a stolen base, Meghan Brannon 2-for-4 with a triple, three runs and an RBI,
Chelsey Hager 3-for-4 with a double, three RBI and a run scored, Darby Petersen 1-for-4, Ashley Mellinger 1-for-2 and Myranda Murphy went 2-for-4 with a double.
The Lady Vikings host Point Pleasant at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday.