RIPLEY - It's not that Chelsey Hager needed much run support on this night, but her teammates had her back. Big time.
Once again, Hager was sensational on the mound. The junior allowed just three hits in disposing of Shady Spring in a 8-0, Region 3 championship game.
The "mercy rule" shortened contest went six innings and Hager was excited for her team.
"We just want to keep getting better, it's the right time of year to be playing well," said Hager after the victory.
Ripley plated four runs in the fourth inning, highlighted by freshman Darby Petersen's RBI double that scored two for Ripley in the frame.
"With runners on base, I was just trying to put the ball in play and make something good happen," said Petersen.
The hit gave Ripley a 3-0 lead and was the pivotal moment in the contest.
Ripley feasted on the offerings from the Lady Tiger's All State hurler Katie Snodgrass. After a four run fourth, Ripley were perched in the Catbird's seat with Hager on the hill.
Dusti Fisher and Myranda Murphy both had RBI hits and Hannah Ford drove in a run with a deep sacrifice fly that was nearly out of lady Viking Park.
In the fifth, the Tigers had two base runners aboard before Ashley Mellinger gunned down a Tiger base runner and Hager notched a timely strikeout, to end the threat.
Ripley (23-10) will advance to the Class AAA State Softball Tournament and will play on either Wednesday or Thursday of next week in Vienna at Jackson Park.
"I was a little concerned early in the game. We had a couple of plays that didn't go our way but we overcame that with tenacious defense and our bats came alive in the fourth inning. Our freshman (Petersen) broke the game open with a big hit," said Coach Ken Swisher.
Swisher gave the green light on the bases as Cunningham, Moore, Mellinger, and Murphy (2) had stolen bases.
Kelsey Moore made a highlight reel worthy defensive play in the fifth inning when she ranged to her right, deep in the hole at shortstop and threw across her body to Myranda Murphy at first base. Murphy stretched her lower body into a complete split to make the play and stole a base hit from the Tiger's Alexis DeMoss.
Shady Spring (20-3) hasn't seen defeat very often in 2013 but was sent back to Raleigh County without the plaque for which they came.
Hager hurled six innings giving up three hits, no walks and she fanned eight Lady Tigers.
Ripley mashed 13 hits and hit for a high average with ducks on the pond.
For the Lady Vikings, Fisher was 3-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI, Hager was 2-for-4 with a run, Moore notched two RBIs, Mellinger was 3-for-3 with a run scored, Murphy was 2-for-2 with a run and an RBI, Petersen had a double and two RBIs and Hannah Ford notched an RBI. Alexis Coalson led Shady Spring with two hits. See Phil Perry's State Tournament preview in Tuesday's Jackson Herald.
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