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Lady Saints run into hot bats in opener

Nandua scored seven runs in the last two innings to take an 8-3 win and spoil opening day for Nansemond-Suffolk’s softball squad Thursday afternoon at NSA.

Nandua started slugging right from the start, but Kelsey Ritter and NSA’s defense kept the game in hand, and even in their favor, through the first five innings.

That, combined with how the Lady Saints’ preseason has gone in the last few weeks, meant NSA head coach Kim Aston wasn’t too disappointed with the final result.

“That’s a good team and this is the first day we’ve had the full team together,” Aston said. “We haven’t even had a full practice, outdoors, yet.”

Basketball season ran a little longer than normal, keeping Aston and a couple basketball/softball players busy. NSA’s spring break, last week, disrupted practice schedules and two Lady Saint starters, Ritter and Kelsey Smith, went on a school trip to Norway.

NSA’s starting catcher last season, Mackenzie Matthews, was on the bench with the team Thursday, but still not in action because she’s in the school play. Eighth-grader Macy Mears filled in behind the plate and as NSA’s second-place hitter.

Nandua put together good chances to score three out of the first four innings, but only managed a single run in the first.

In the Nandua second, Ritter got two groundouts to leave a one-out double stranded.

In the Nandua fourth, after the first hitter in the frame was hit by a pitch and took second on a passed ball, NSA got a lucky break as the Nandua runner ran into NSA shortstop Morgan Daughtry as she was fielding a grounder. The interference call gave NSA its first out and erased Nandua’s runner in scoring position. The Lady Saints got the next two outs in order to keep the score 1-0.

Still without a hit in the game, NSA didn’t need one to get on the board in the next half-inning.

Mears sent a fly to left field and wound up on second after the ball glanced off the glove of the Nandua outfielder.

Daughtry followed with a sacrifice bunt. Nandua’s throw to first was wild, allowing Mears to score.

NSA kept going in the fifth, starting with a leadoff single, a hard smash between short and third, by Ugi Metzger.

Smith, NSA’s ninth-place hitter, singled to put Metzger on third with one out.

Brooke Starling’s safety squeeze worked perfectly as Metzger raced down the line as Nandua made the out at first. NSA made it 3-1 when Smith scored thanks to an errant throw to first by Nandua’s shortstop.

The Lady Warriors turned the game around with four hits and a sacrifice, RBI groundout within the first five hitters of the top of the sixth. Nandua scored four runs in the sixth and three more in the seventh.

“We made some mistakes. We gave up passed balls and wild pitches that allowed runs to score. We’ve got to hit the ball better. We put the bat on it today, but that was sort of it,” Aston said.

The Lady Saints (0-1) play at Hampton Roads, in a non-Tidewater Conference game, Friday at 4:30 p.m.