Lady Viking softball team captures Class AAA Region IV, Section 2 title

Mark Martin
These Ripley High seniors will help lead the Lady Viking girls softball team into regional action next week. Left to right: Lainey Shouldis, Emilee Jordan, Grace Walsh, Kyra Winter and Chloe Shinn.

Back-to-back wins over Parkersburg South gave Ripley a Class AAA Region IV, Section 2 championship in girls softball last week.

After walloping the Lady Patriots, 21-6, in their initial postseason meeting, Ripley then took the title with a 9-1 victory against South.

The win sends Ripley on to Class AAA Region IV Tournament play against Cabell Midland.

Ripley will open this phase of the postseason at home inside Lady Viking Park on Monday, June 14. The second game of the double-elimination regional will be staged on the Lady Knights home diamond Tuesday, June 15.

If a third game is needed, the regional will shift back to Ripley Wednesday, June 16.

“We got to go down and see them,” head coach Kenny Swisher said of his team’s upcoming opponent. “It’s much better to see them in person. They are a good team. They have solid pitching and play solid defense. We match up well with them. Getting to start (the regional) at home is a blessing.”

The regional winner advances to the West Virginia High School Girls State Softball Tournament at South Charleston’s Little Creek Park June 22-23.

Before the Region IV Tournament begins, Ripley was to play a couple of games against a pair of Class AA programs that remain alive in the postseason.

The Lady Vikings were to host Independence yesterday (Thursday) before travelling to Herbert Hoover today (Friday).

“You don’t want much of a break,” the veteran head coach said. “You want to keep them game-smart. You want to keep them going.”

Swisher feels good about where his team is currently.

“We’re pretty solid,” he said. “Most of the teams you play now are solid.

“They’re fun to coach. They are very explosive. It makes my job a lot of easier. They are a joy to coach. They are very outgoing and it ties in to their explosiveness.”

Ripley 21-Parkersburg South 6

An 11-run burst in the third inning by the homestanding Lady Vikings broke open a tight game in the winner’s bracket affair.

Ripley and South had both won their tournament openers.

South plated a run in the top of the first and Ripley answered with one of its own in the bottom of the inning.

The Lady Patriots came back with two more in the second, with Ripley again tying things by sending two runners across the plate in the home half of the frame.

After a scoreless top of the third by South, Ripley’s offense shifted into high gear with those 11 runs.

For good measure, the Lady Vikings produced another big inning in the last of the fourth by scoring seven more times.

South garnered three runs in the top of the fifth, but it wasn’t nearly enough as Ripley won by the mercy rule in four and a half innings.

The Lady Vikings collected 14 hits in sending South, who had nine, to the loser’s bracket.

Kaitlyn Swisher, Kristabelle Carte, Cassidy Cummings, Kyra Winter, Grace Walsh and McKenna Hall each had two hits.

Among Hall’s two hits was a home run.

Ellie Hershey’s lone hit also left Lady Viking Park and was of the grand slam variety.

Swisher, Cummings and Walsh each had extra base hits by lacing doubles.

Hershey’s four RBI was tops for Ripley in that department. Carte was next in line by driving home three runs.

Cummings, Hall and Aaliyah Baldwin brought home two each.

Winter and Shinn each plated a run.

Shinn got the win by pitching all five innings. In addition to the nine hits, she struck out three and walked two.

“It was a close game for two innings,” said Swisher.

His team got accustomed to South’s pitching and took off.

“We started pounding the ball,” he said. “That’s the way it has been. We start hitting most pitchers the second or third time around.”

Ripley 9-Parkersburg South 1

South defeated Hurricane in a loser’s bracket final to get another shot at Ripley and needed to win twice for a sectional crown.

Ripley, though, wasn’t about to let that happen.

The Lady Vikings took control with three runs in the bottom of the first and never looked back.

Two more were added in the second inning.

Down 5-0, South scored its only run in the top of the fourth.

Ripley put another run on the board in the last of the fourth. Then in the bottom of the fifth, the Lady Vikings scored three more to finish the game in five (due to the eight-run lead).

Ripley outhit South, 10-2.

Swisher was 3-for-4 and drove home the game-winning runs in the fifth.

Carte and Hall each had two hits.

Cummings was 1-for-2 and drove home three runs.

Walsh had the lone extra base hit with a solo homerun.

Baldwin had a hit and two RBI.

Winter had one hit and an RBI.

“We got off to a real good start and just kept going,” Swisher said.