RIPLEY – Moments after their agonizing, 3-2 loss to Musselman in extra innings that eliminated them from the State Tournament and ended their season, the 2014 Ripley Lady Vikings went beyond the outfield wall and posed for one final team picture.  Still stinging from the defeat, they managed to put on a smile for the camera.  It was rather fitting, since the Lady Vikings had a lot to smile about when looking back at their tremendously successful season.  They finished with a 21-9 record, a second straight sectional championship, sweeping Capital and Riverside in the three game series, a second consecutive Region 3 championship, defeating South Charleston 2-1 in a heart stopping regional semi-final, and then coolly dispatching a solid Greenbrier East team on the road, 6-3 for a return trip to the WV State Softball Tournament.  

Statistically, the Lady Vikings were led by a group of three seniors–Chelsey Hager, Meghan Brannon, and Dusti Fisher– and had strong contributions from an exciting core of young talent.  Hager, who was named first team all Mountain State Athletic Conference (MSAC) and made the all tournament team at the State Tournament, capped off a brilliant career in a Lady Viking uniform.  She finished the season with a .344 batting average, .406 on base percentage, and led the team with six home runs and 27 RBIs.  She also led the team on the mound, finishing with a 15-6 record and a microscopic 1.16 ERA and 193 strikeouts.  Senior second baseman Meghan Brannon, an all MSAC special honorable mention selection, bounced back from a broken wrist to lead the Lady Vikings in hitting for her senior season with a .376 batting average, an on-base percentage of .402, and a team leading 38 hits.  Finally, senior outfielder Dusti Fisher capped off a sterling varsity career with a .293 batting average and a .368 on base percentage, which included several clutch hits over the course of tournament play.  Fisher was also a first team all MSAC selection.

While the loss of their three seniors will certainly be felt, the blow will be softened by the return of several leading underclassmen.  Junior catcher Ashley Mellinger, a first team all MSAC selection, enjoyed another stellar season at the plate, finishing with a .356 batting average, a .438 on base percentage, 22 RBIs, and was second on the team with three home runs. Sophomore lead off hitter and shortstop Kelsey Moore, an honorable mention all conference selection, had a solid 2014 season, finishing with a .313 batting average, a .414 on base percentage, 31 hits, 17 RBIs, 13 stolen bases, and a team leading 31 runs scored. 

Also contributing for the Lady Vikes in 2014 were sophomore third baseman Myranda Murphy, who finished with a .294 batting average and junior center fielder Hannah Ford, who  was another honorable mention all MSAC selection, finished with a .295 average and a team leading 15 stolen bases.  Juniors Tori Anderson and Sapphire Parsons also played an integral part in the Lady Vikings 2014 tournament run.  Sophomore Darby Petersen emerged as a dependable number two starter on the mound for the Lady Vikings in 2014, finishing with a 7-3 record with a respectable 3.61 ERA and 41 strikeouts.  Petersen also excelled at the plate, finishing with a .272 average and 10 RBIs, with several key hits in tournament play for the Lady Vikings.  

All in all, the Lady Vikings can look back at their 2014 season with their heads held high, knowing that they gave 100%.  Even though their season didn’t end the way they wanted, they can look forward to an exciting future thanks to the foundation laid by their three departing seniors and the young talent that stepped up for them this past season.