By Jay Bennett
News and Sentinel
Dusti Fisher delivered a game-ending RBI double with two outs in the bottom of the sixth Thursday evening and Ripley rode right-hander Chelsey Hager to an 8-0 victory in the Class AAA Region 3 softball championship game against Shady Spring.
Hager twirled a four-hit shutout with no walks and eight strikeouts.
“We were pretty confident we were going to win. We were worried it was going to get rained out,” said Fisher, who went 3 for 4 with two runs scored and pair of runs-batted-in.
“We’re pretty excited about going to state. It means a lot to us and it means a lot to me, especially as a junior. We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores.”
Shady Spring losing pitcher Katie Snodgrass went the distance and held the Vikings scoreless until a four-run fourth. Ripley, which got two hits apiece from Hager, Kelsey Moore and Ashley Mellinger as well as two RBIs from Myranda Murphy, tacked on two runs in both the fifth and sixth frames.
The Tigers, who concluded the campaign for head coach Nikki Mackey-Hall at 22-3, got a 2 for 2 effort from Alexis Coalson. Leadoff hitter Sierra Richmond, the only Shady Spring runner to reach third base, and fellow teammate Autumn Kauff had the other two singles.
“I told them I’d been there before (at state) and I want you to experience this and realize how much it means to the community and the fans,” said Viking skipper Ken Swisher.
“She (Hager) did it again. Today, she dominated the other team. As young as we are we are playing at a high level.”
The closest the Tigers came to scoring was in the sixth when Richmond singled and Alexis DeMoss, who was later called out trying to swipe second, reached on an error. However, Richmond was left stranded at third when Hager got cleanup hitter Mackenzie Milam to ground out to the shortstop Moore.
In a game that started an hour late because of Mother Nature, Hager got all the runs she needed in that decisive fourth frame. Fisher’s leadoff single was followed by Mellinger’s bunt single, and Fisher scored the game’s first run when she slid under the tag of Tiger catcher McKenzie Severt on a fielder’s choice bunt by Murphy. Darby Petersen followed with an RBI single and a Tiger outfield error made it 3-0. Peterson crossed the plate on Hannah Ford’s sacrifice fly.
Hager started the fifth with a stand-up two-bagger to center and scored on Fisher’s RBI single. Murphy then came through with an RBI base-knock up the middle for a 6-0 cushion.
Ripley, which will play in the state tournament on Wednesday at Vienna’s Jackson Park, got things going in the sixth when Ali Cunningham reached on a one-out error. Cunningham eventually scored on Moore’s RBI single to center and pinch-runner Montana Kershner came home for the final run of the night on Fisher’s slicing double off the fence in left-center.
The squad from Jackson County will have to wait until later today to find out its opponent for the state tournament. Jefferson is scheduled to face host Buckhannon-Upshur at 4 p.m. today in the Region II final.
Ripley 8, Shady Spring 0 (6 inn.)
SS 000 000 — 0 4 4
R 000 422 — 8 11 1
WP: Chelsey Hager 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 SO
LP: Katie Snodgrass 5.2 IP, 11 H, 8 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 4 SO
Shady Spring (22-3) hitting: Sierra Richmond 1-3; Alexis Coalson 2-2; Autumn Kauff 1-2
Ripley (24-10) hitting: Ali Cunningham R, SB; Hager 2-4 R, 2B; Kelsey Moore 2-3 R, SB, RBI; Dusti Fisher 3-4, 2 R, 2B, 2 RBIs; Ashley Mellinger 2-3; Sierra Norris R; Myranda Murphy 1-2 R, 2 RBIs; Darby Petersen 1-3 R, RBI; Hannah Ford RBI