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St. Marys softball falls to Ritchie in sectional final

Photo by Jay W. Bennett St. Marys freshman Zoey Winland is greeted at home by teammates following her solo bomb in the top of the fifth inning Tuesday night that gave the Blue Devils a 4-3 lead against host Ritchie County in the Class A, Region I, Section 2 championship game. The host Rebels rallied for a 5-4 win.

ELLENBORO — Alyvia Pittman drilled a game-winning RBI double to right-center to plate No. 9 hitter Chaslyn Jones in the bottom of the seventh here Tuesday night as host Ritchie County rallied past St. Marys, 5-4, to claim the Class A, Region I, Section 2 championship.

In three previous attempts to beat the Rebels and senior right-hander Chloe Elliott, the Blue Devils (17-11) lost by scores of 1-0 twice and also 9-0.

Even at four going to the last of the seventh, losing pitcher Mahayla Nichols (6.1IP, 8H, 4ER, 5SO) retired pinch-hitter Maci Ireland for the first out, but Jones singled to left and after taking two strikes to open her at-bat, Pittman delivered in the clutch.

“I saw the pitch, got aggressive, swung as hard as I could,” said the junior Rebel. “Once I hit that ball it felt good. I was like ‘wow my moment just happened.’ They came to win, but we did, too.”

St. Marys freshman Zoey Winland launched a two-out no-doubt solo bomb to center to give the visitors a 4-3 lead in the top of the fifth. However, Pittman singled and scored to tie it in the home half of the frame when she crossed on an error.

“It’s hard to beat a team four times. I’m telling you. I don’t give a crap what they say,” admitted Rebel boss Dave Mossor, whose 19-5 club begins the best-of-three regional when Madonna invades at 6 p.m. next Tuesday. “I thought we got two runs and that’s it. Then bang, bang, bang and I thought ‘oh my God’ then the girl hit that home run.”

Marissa Jeffrey and Elliott, who scattered seven hits while allowing three earned runs with no walks and 11 strikeouts, had back-to-back one-out singles in the first. Olivia Dodd put the hosts ahead 2-0 with a double to right that scored Jeffrey and courtesy runner Kiarra Weekley.

The Blue Devils scored in the second when Nichols singled and courtesy runner Delaney Brookover crossed after Cara Masters reached on an infield single, and an error ensued.

SMHS pushed ahead 3-2 after plating a pair of runs in the third. Layne Kincaid, who had a bunt single in the first and was left stranded, singled to left and Winland followed with an infield bunt single. Kincaid later scored on a wild pitch and Nichols knocked in Winland with an RBI infield single.

Following Jeffrey’s two-bagger in the third, Elliott knocked her in with a one-hop laser single to the fence in right-center.

“It’s really amazing that we can come together as a team right now from last year when we didn’t even get to play at all as a team, and then this year we basically come back with the same girls plus a freshman and we’re just doing what we’re doing,” Elliott admitted.

After Jones reached in the bottom of the seventh, coach Mossor had to decide whether or not to attempt a steal.

“I didn’t send Chaslyn,” he said. “She’s the fastest girl on the team. Normally, I would’ve sent her and gambled, but I said nope I’m going to see what happens. When that ball went to the fence I was sending her.”

St. Marys right fielder Ava Childers, who reached on an error in the seventh and was left stranded at third, made a running web gem near the line to rob Elliott in the fifth.

“We had a wonder season,” said Blue Devil skipper Lacy Riggs, who watched Nichols, Olivia Deweese and Lara Fetty play their final games. “I just wish we could’ve got it done for our seniors today. I told them we were the best we could be at the end of the season and that’s what we strove for all season. That’s what we wanted. We couldn’t have asked for anything more from the team. They left it out there. There’s got to be a winner and a loser and unfortunately it was us today.”

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com

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