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No. 1 O’Connell ends Lady Saints season

PETERSBURG – Top-seeded Bishop O’Connell scored two runs in each of the first two innings and held Nansemond-Suffolk’s offense quiet for a 4-0 win in the semifinals of the Virginia Independent Schools, Div. I State Tournament Thursday afternoon at the Petersburg Sports Complex.

The Lady Saint hitters tried making some noise, and put the ball in play most of the day. Not many of NSA’s grounders or line drives found holes and the Lady Knights from Arlington played errorless defense, adding up to no Lady Saint reaching third base on the day.

“(Bishop O’Connell’s) pitcher threw a bunch of strikes and they just let their defense take care of it,” said Nansemond-Suffolk head coach Kim Aston.

The Lady Knights put together rallies on NSA and starting pitcher Kelsey Ritter to get all the runs they needed early on.

Three of the first four Bishop O’Connell hits found gaps in the outfield for extra-base hits. The Lady Knights also worked Ritter for four walks.

In all of Ritter’s starts through the season for NSA, any more than one walk per game was a rarity.

With one error in the second inning and a couple other relays from the outfield allowing the Lady Knights an extra base, NSA could’ve kept the margin closer.

Nicole Turner singled up the middle with one out in the second. With two out in the NSA third, Brooke Starling doubled to deep left field. Morgan Daughtry led off NSA’s fourth with a single to center.

After Daughtry’s hit though, Bishop O’Connell retired the last 12 NSA batters in order, even though only one of the 12 outs came via a strikeout.

Ritter allowed one hit the rest of the way after Bishop O’Connell made it 4-0 in the second. She finished with four strikeouts.

The Lady Saints finish the year with a 17-5 record and as season champs of the Tidewater Conference.

Getting a win over Greenbrier Christian — although Greenbrier avenged the loss in the conference tournament final — the conference title and reaching the state tournament were the main goals the Lady Saints set before the season, Aston said.

Center fielder and fifth-place hitter Allie Thorndike is Aston’s only senior.

“Basically the whole team will be back, so our goal will be to get further than this point,” Aston said.