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Greenbrier blanks Lady Saints in final

CHESAPEAKE – Greenbrier Christian’s softball team avenged its loss a week ago to Nansemond-Suffolk and then some Friday evening, winning the Tidewater Conference Tournament final 8-0 at Greenbrier Christian.

In NSA’s 3-2 win last week that made the Lady Saints regular-season champions and the tournament’s No. 1 seed, NSA head coach Kim Aston said her squad’s offense early in the game put the Lady Gators on their heels since, prior to that game Greenbrier Christian had allowed only nine runs all season.

In the tourney final, it was the complete opposite way around. The Lady Gators plated a pair of runs in the second and third innings and never allowed NSA a chance to get back into the game.

“We need to get stronger when a team gets up on us. We have to learn to fight through it. There wasn’t a need for it in many games this year, but tonight, we even we were down only 2-0, you could see in the kids’ faces,” Aston said.

Greenbrier Christian pitcher Alora Lincoln fired a four-hit shutout with one walk and eight strikeouts. Lincoln kept NSA’s hitters off balance the whole way by mixing in a super-slow, but accurate, change-up.

Lincoln was named tournament MVP. She didn’t allow a run in her three tournament games.

NSA’s junior pitcher Kelsey Ritter, coming off her fourth no-hitter of the season in NSA’s semifinal win, had a tough night as the Lady Gators posted 11 hits on her. Ritter didn’t get much help from her fielders behind her though.

“You can’t make eight errors. We made more errors tonight than we did all season,” Aston said.

The Lady Saints could’ve made it out of the second inning giving up one run, but an error with two outs allowed one more run in. In the third, again one of the two runs was unearned and the Lady Gators made it 5-0 in the fourth with another unearned run.

The news wasn’t all bad for the Lady Saints as Ritter was named the TCIS Player of the Year and eighth-grade catcher/first baseman/shortstop and leadoff hitter Macy Mears was named to first team All-TCIS.

Ritter, who was also voted first team all-state in Virginia Independent Schools Division I, was hitting .615 prior to NSA’s three tournament games this week. “So it’s probably gone up,” Aston said.

“She’s by far the best all-around player. She can play any position but catcher,” Aston said.

Unlike in seasons past at the conference tournament at Greenbrier Christian, the regular season champion plaque wasn’t awarded on the field with the tournament title and honors.

“I couldn’t believe it when (Greenbrier Christian’s) athletic director walked into our dugout and handed us the trophy,” Aston said. “I specifically remember last year having them award both of them on the field.”

The Lady Saints (16-4) continue into the VIS Div. I State Tournament as the No. 4 seed in the eight-school tournament. NSA will host Paul VI Catholic of Fairfax Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. The winner between the Lady Saints and the Lady Panthers moves on to a semifinal game in Petersburg Thursday at 1 p.m.