Lady Saint signs with Winthrop

Published 9:29 pm Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Kelsey Ritter’s been an all-around standout for Nansemond-Suffolk’s softball team for five seasons now, going back to her eighth-grade year.

Nansemond-Suffolk pitcher/shortstop Kelsey Ritter officially accepted a scholarship offer to play softball at Winthrop on Wednesday. Ritter and the Lady Saints are 8-2 overall and ranked No. 3 in the state this season.

Ritter and all the Lady Saints have a lot more still to play for this season, but NSA’s four-time all-state pitcher/shortstop and clean-up hitter made her college plans official during a ceremony in NSA’s library on Wednesday afternoon, signing a scholarship offer to go to Winthrop University.

Winthrop, in Rock Hill, S.C., is a Division I program in the Big South Conference. Winthrop’s interest in Ritter and vice-versa started in January.

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“I visited the campus a couple times and stayed with a girl on the team on one of the trips,” Ritter said.

“I love the coach and the team works really hard. Then aside from softball, I fell in love with the campus and the school,” she said.

Mark Cooke is in his 22nd season as Winthrop’s head coach. The Eagles are 12-24 this season. The Lady Eagles won the Big South championship in 2007 and ’08.

“He’s been really supportive and nice. He never put any pressure on me to decide,” Ritter said.

While Ritter’s a pitcher or shortstop for the Lady Saints, including throwing four no-hitters during her junior season, she plays third base for her travel club and it’s the most likely position she’ll play for the Eagles.

“This is an especially great moment because we know that this has been a dream of Kelsey’s for a long time and we’ve seen how hard she’s worked to achieve this dream,” said Don Birmingham, NSA’s Director of College Counseling.

Birmingham mentioned many of Ritter’s off-field responsibilities and achievements, including being a member of the National Honor Society, the editor of the school yearbook and a senior class officer.

“Kelsey’s a wonderful member of our school community,” said Brenda Kincaid, headmaster of the Upper School.

“I’m really happy everyone who’s supported me for so long was able to come today,” Ritter said.

The Lady Saints are 8-2 and ranked No. 3 in the state in VIS (Virginia Independent Schools) Div. I. NSA’s posted 12 or more runs in each of its eight wins.

Included in the ceremony, along with everyone Ritter thanked a moment after taking care of the official paperwork, were Ritter’s travel club coaches with the Virginia Legends.

The last Lady Saint softball player to earn a scholarship at the Division I level was Brittany Wilkins, now a junior third baseman/catcher at Boston College.

“I was excited for today, a little nervous, too, but mainly excited,” Ritter said.