RIPLEY -  The Ripley Lady Vikings softball team found themselves in familiar territory last week, as Lady Viking Park played host to the Class AAA Region 4, Section 3 tournament.  

So, it stands to reason that the Lady Vikes followed the same winning formula that has gotten them so far this season: dominant pitching and timely hitting.  The Lady Vikings quickly dispatched the Capital Lady Cougars 15-2 last Wednesday night in the second round of the tournament, and then completely shut down the Riverside Lady Warriors in two games on Thursday and Friday night, taking the first contest 5-0 and then 7-0 in the championship game.  

“We were able to put up back to back to back performances,” said Lady Viking head coach Ken Swisher, “[Our] defense gave nothing, our hitting was aggressive, and our pitching was outstanding.”

Sophomore slinger Darby Petersen got the start for the Lady Vikings against Capital, and turned in a solid performance, getting the win while going three innings, allowing one walk, one hit, two runs (one earned) and striking out two batters. Chelsea Hager closed out the final two innings, while allowing no runs, no hits, one walk, and struck out five.  

The Lady Viking offense, however, was the star of the show against the Lady Cougars, as they exploded for 12 runs in the fourth inning to end the game.

Junior catcher Ashley Mellinger went 3-3 with 3 RBIs, 2runs scored, and a stolen base, senior second baseman Meghan Brannon went 2-4 with a triple and 3 RBIs, a run scored, and a stolen base, senior outfielder Dusti Fisher went 1-3, with a double and 4 RBIs, Hager helped her own cause going 1-1 with a stolen base, Kelsey Moore went 1-2 with three runs scored, two RBIs, and a stolen base, Petersen went 1-1, Hannah Ford went 1-2 with an RBI and two runs scored, Myranda Murphy went 1-2 with two runs scored, and Allie Hamilton had an RBI, a run scored, and a stolen base in the Lady Vikes 15-2 dismantling of the Cougars.

In first game against Riverside, Hager simply dominated on the mound.  She took a no hitter into the sixth inning, but Cassady Schmidt broke up the no-no with a base hit with two outs.  Hager’s final line was seven innings pitched, no runs, two hits, no walks, and 12 strikeouts.

Mellinger led the way offensively, going 2-3 with a double and a home run, two RBIs, and two runs scored, Brannon went 3-4 with a triple, an RBI, and a run scored, Moore went 2-2 with two runs scored, and Murphy went 2-3.

The story was much the same in game 2, as Hager was once again overpowering on the mound.  Hager went the distance, pitching all seven innings, and allowed no runs, two hits, no walks, and struck out another 12 batters.

Hager also led the way at the plate, going 2-4 with two doubles, two RBIs, and a run scored.  Mellinger went 2-4, Brannon went 1-2 with a triple, Moore went 1-3 with a double, Petersen went 2-3 with an RBI, a run scored, and a stolen base, and Murphy went 1-2 with two RBIs.

The victory puts the Lady Vikings right in the thick of things as they move on to regional play, and Swisher know his team is focused.

“This team has a goal in mind,” Swisher concluded, “Playing hard with determination and focusing on one game at a time.”

The Lady Vikings will move to take on the South Charleston Lady Black Eagles in the Region 4 semi-final Thursday at 6:00 p.m. at Lady Viking Park.