VIENNA – A pair of two-out rallies in consecutive innings proved to be enough for head coach Ken Swisher’s Ripley Viking softball team in Tuesday night’s Class AAA Region 4, Section 1 opener against Parkersburg South in Vienna. With the game tied at 1-1 in the fifth, the Vikings plated six runs to break the game open, then added four more runs with two outs in the sixth to create enough separation for an 11-8 win.
“[Tuesday night] was very satisfying,” Swisher said, “Beating a team that beat us two weeks earlier feels good.”
Despite coming up empty with the bases loaded and no outs in the bottom of the first, Parkersburg South drew first blood on a Sarah Huffman RBI single in the bottom of the third to go up 1-0. The Vikings answered quickly, though, as sophomore Cassidy Young launched an opposite field home run to right center to tie things at 1-1 in the top of the fourth. After a scoreless bottom half of the fifth, the Vikings were able to break the game open with the aforementioned two out rally in the top of the fifth. It all started on a Katie Sinclair sacrifice bunt that led to a South throwing error that scored Ella Casto all the way from first. Up 2-1, Young struck again, lashing a two-run single to give the Vikings a 4-1 lead. Jaelyn Hunt followed with a bases-clearing, three-run double that gave Ripley what looked to be a comfortable, 7-1 lead.
However, South would not go quietly. Paige Winans and Huffman led off the bottom of the fifth with back-to-back home runs, cutting the Ripley lead to 7-3. That prompted a pitching change from Swisher, as he removed Hunt and brought on senior Destinee Baldwin in relief. She got the Vikings out of the inning with no further damage, setting the stage for another two-out rally in the top of the sixth. The second rally started again with an RBI off a bunt, this time from senior Izzy Donohew. Another error and another Young RBI put Ripley up 10-3, then senior Haley Carte delivered a two-out RBI single to put Ripley up 11-3.
Winans delivered an RBI double in the bottom of the sixth to make it 11-4 in favor of the Vikings, which led to the Patriots making a final run at the win in the bottom of the seventh. They scored on Ripley error to make it 11-5, but were down to their final out. Still, South got three more runs on two RBI singles, one of which came from Winans. However, Baldwin was able to get the final out, staving off the Patriot comeback attempt and sending the Vikings to the sectional championship series.
Young led the Vikings at the plate, finishing 3-for-4 with a home run and four RBI. Hunt was right behind her, going 1-for-4 with three RBI. Donohew and Carte added the other Ripley RBI, while Lexi Miller finished 2-for-3. The Vikings totaled 12 hits on the night.
Hunt picked up the win on the mound, allowing three runs (all earned) on seven hits with a walk and two strikeouts in four innings pitched. Baldwin allowed five runs (one earned) on six hits with two strikeouts in three innings.
Megan Ellis took the loss on the hill for South, going five and two-thirds innings while giving up seven runs (all earned) on seven hits with four strikeouts and one walk. Winans led the Patriots at the plate, finishing a perfect 4-for-4 with a home run, double and three RBI.
“Now that that’s over, we have to regroup and use it to our advantage,” Swisher concluded, “We played as a team and that’s hard to beat.”
In the nightcap of Tuesday night’s doubleheader, South defeated top-seeded Parkersburg, 13-6. Consequently, that meant another doubleheader last night (Wednesday), as Ripley faced Parkersburg in the opener and South in the nightcap.