Lady Saints advance with Ritter’s no-hitter
Normally the final out of a no-hitter brings about a huge celebration. When Nansemond-Suffolk’s softball team advanced through the Tidewater Conference Tournament semifinals with an 8-0 win over Hampton Roads and with Kelsey Ritter’s no-hitter on Thursday night, the sentiment with the clinching out was closer to business as usual.
For one, the Lady Saint win set up a rematch against Greenbrier Christian in Friday evening’s final at Greenbrier Christian. The Lady Gators are the perennial conference power, but NSA beat the Lady Gators 3-2 at NSA to complete an undefeated conference record.
Secondly, the no-no was Ritter’s fourth of the season. Ritter walked one and one HRA hitter reached on an error. Ritter and the Lady Saints faced one hitter over the minimum. The junior’s fastball overpowered Lady Navigator hitters throughout the game as she struck out eight and no batted ball reached the outfield grass.
The Lady Saints took care of the offensive side early, scoring in each of the first three innings.
In the bottom of the first, Brooke Starling singled with a grounder into center field and Ritter followed with a line drive banging off the left-field fence for an RBI double. Mackenzie Mathews singled past HRA’s second baseman to bring in Ritter for a 2-0 lead.
With the aid of two HRA errors, NSA tacked on two more in the next frame with Alexandria Russell and Starling coming around to score.
The Lady Saints put together four singles and two sacrifice groundouts for a four-run third inning. Ugi Metzger and Starling had an RBI each with the groundouts. Ritter added her second RBI with a single.
Mathews finished 3-for-4. Russell, Macy Mears, Ritter and Nicole Turner had two hits each.
The Lady Saints, who had only 10 players on the varsity squad all season, are without Kelsey Smith because of an injury. Smith normally plays right field and bats ninth. Even in the ninth spot in the order, Smith added speed to NSA’s offense and that weapon is something NSA head coach Kim Aston said her team could miss in the final against Greenbrier Christian, set for 5:30 p.m.
Repeating, but improving on, what worked in the 3-2 win last week will be key Aston said.
“We’ve got to come out and hit right off the bat. I think that’s what got us going in the last game and it put (Greenbrier Christian) on their heels,” Aston said.
“We’ll have to keep them off the bases as best as possible. They have a lot of fast kids and I’m sure they’ll try to steal every chance they get,” Aston said.