High School Sports

Blazers make 4A playoff case in 2-1 over Vikings

In a game that carried potential Region 4-4A softball playoff implications forboth teams, the Ridge View Blazers hosted the Spring Valley Vikings onTuesday, 4/21/09. The Vikings entered the game at 5-3 in the region (11-11overall), wanting a win to move closer to the Lancaster Bruins for 2nd placein the region, who entered Tuesday night's play at 5-2. The Blazers enteredthe game at 3-5 in the region (7-14 overall), needing a win to break apotential tie with Rock Hill (3-5 also) for the 4th and final playoff spot inthe Region, with Rock Hill and Lancaster scheduled to play each other onTuesday night. In the two previous meetings this season with the Vikings, theBlazers had yet to score a run, being shut out in both games by a score of5-0. This game however, would be much more competitive.

From the first pitch to the last, this was a close and exciting game with afeel of the playoffs in the air, as both teams (and a big crowd) were spiritedand energetic. Both teams practiced the 'small-ball' concept nearly toperfection, executing a combined 6 sacrifice bunts, with Ridge View alsoadding 3 beautiful bunt singles to the total. This was a well-pitched,defensive game game where both teams were moving runners, challenging thedefense to make the plays on the bunts, and waiting for the big hit withrunners in scoring position.

Ridge View threatened in the 1st inning, when consecutive leadoff bunt singlesfrom junior SS Megan Woodall and sophomore CF Stephanie Junker, followed by a1-out infield hit between short and third from junior LF Kaitlyn McCormick,left the bases loaded. Viking starter Rachel Mellin worked out of the jamwithout damage however, inducing a lineout to 2nd for the second out, then astrikeout to end the inning. Spring Valley struck first in the top of thesecond, when sophomore 3B Mariaha Sanborn lined a leadoff shot towards rightfield. The Blazer right-fielder took a step in initially, then realizing thatthe ball was hit harder than she thought, jumped, but the ball got by heroutstretched glove into the corner, landing Sanborn at third with a triple.1B Morgan Barker followed in the next AB with an rbi-single between 1st and2nd, to put Spring Valley up 1-0.

A nice defensive play from Spring Valley in the 3rd again kept the Blazers offthe board. With 1 out and a runner on second, Kaitlyn McCormick lined a ballin the left-center field gap for a hit, but the Blazer runner stayed close to2nd base to ensure the ball was not caught, and did not get a quick jump from2nd. When the runner rounded third and was held there, the relay throw fromshortstop Kara June came behind the runner at third, nailing the Blazer runnerfor the 2nd out, and ending the threat.

Ridge View got the big hit they needed in the home half of the 4th however,scoring a pair to go up 2-1. After senior RF Shatoya White singled over 2nd,and Brooke Dimock reached on a fielder's choice force-out at third, KatherineStori moved them to 2nd and 3rd with a well-placed sacrifice bunt. With 2outs in the inning, Megan Woodall cracked an inside pitch over third for hersecond hit to score White and courtesy runner Shakeera Burnside, with whatwould prove to be the game-winning runs.

Finally having a lead, junior pitcher Brooke Dimock and the Blazer defenselocked things down, retiring 8 consecutive Viking batters through the 5th and6th innings, and into the 7th. With 2 outs in the 7th, Rachel Mellin bounceda ball between short and third for a single. This would lead to an odd, butexciting, conclusion to the game. The next Viking batter, AJ Gurganious hit ahard grounder to Blazer 2B Natalie Davis. The ball took a funny hop anddeflected off of her right knee. As luck would have it, the ball bounced hardtowards shortstop Megan Woodall who was moving to cover 2nd. Woodall scoopedthe ball up and dove glove-first into second base, just ahead of thehard-sliding Mellin to get the final out, with Woodall receiving a face fullof dirt (and nearly a cleat) for her efforts. An exciting end to the biggestwin of the season thus far for the Blazers. For the record, 2B Natalie Davissaid it was just a simple 4-6 assist and putout.

A couple of nice defensive plays aided Ridge View in securing the win. In theViking 3rd, Blazer CF Stephanie Junker went deep into center field near thefence to catch a long fly off the bat of Kara June for the third out,stranding a runner at third. To lead off the 6th, Viking speedster MorganIsrael started the inning attempting to bunt for a hit in front of the strongViking 2-3-4 hitters. Blazer 3B Tre Medlin fielded the ball on the move,making a strong and accurate throw to 2B Natalie Davis covering first for thebang-bang first out of the inning. Davis did a great job receiving the balland finding the bag at the same time with a speedy runner approaching. Theseplays, along with the final play of the game by Woodall, lead a strongdefensive effort from the Blazers. Pitcher Brooke Dimock had a solid efforton the hill, only allowing 3 hits, striking out 2 and walking none in thevictory. Dimock moved the ball around the strikezone effectively, coaxing 9groundball outs in the game.

The win moves Ridge View into 4th place alone in Region 4-4A at 4-5 (8-14overall), with their last region game against Lancaster on Thursday at home.Spring Valley's loss keeps them in 3rd place in the region at 5-4 (11-12overall), with one region game remaining at South Pointe on Friday.

Ridge View 2 Spring Valley 1

RV:Megan Woodall - ss (2-4, 2 rbi, bunt single)Stephanie Junker - cf (3-3, 2 bunt singles)Kaitlyn McCormick - lf (2-3)Stephanie Sweatman - 1b (2-3)Shatoya White - rf (1-2, run, sac bunt)Brooke Dimock - p (1-3, roe)Katherine Stori - dp (0-0, 3 sac bunts)

SV:Mariaha Sanborn - 3b (1-3, 3B, run)Morgan Barker - 1b (1-3, rbi)Rachel Mellin - p (1-2, sac bunt)

WP - Brooke Dimock (7-11, 7 IP, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 H, 2 K, 0 BB, 1 HP)LP - Rachel Mellin (6 IP, 2 R, 2 ER, 11 H, 1 K, 0 BB)