Ray’s shutout leads Ritchie past Ravenswood

ELLENBORO – Moie Ray recorded 10 strikeouts and finished with a five-hitter as Ritchie County blanked Ravenswood, 5-0, here Thursday to claim the Class AA Region I, Section 2 softball championship.

Head coach Dave Mossor’s Rebels, who won a sectional crown for the 25th consecutive season, scored twice in the bottom of the first against losing pitcher Savana Casto and that proved more than enough for Ray. She never allowed a Red Devil to reach third base.

Ritchie County, which will play host at 5 p.m. next Thursday in a regional semifinal contest versus Oak Glen or Weir, got things rolling early in the very first inning when Vanessa Tallman, leading off, reached on an error and stole second. After No. 2 hitter Becca Sullivan walked, they both advanced a base on a wild pitch.

Casto, though, got Kenna DeLancey out on a line shot to Red Devil shortstop Katie Buckbee, but catcher Abby Burgess followed with a bunt and an error allowed Tallman to score. After Ray walked to load the bases, Tracy Lamp was hit by a pitch and trotted to first with an RBI and a 2-0 Rebel cushion.

Consecutive one-out singles by Ariana Kennedy and Claudia Cubides, who each went 2-for-3, got things going for the visitors in the third. However, Ray got out of the jam after fanning Casto and getting a back-handed stop by Sullivan at second base. Sullivan raced to make the force at the bag to end the threat.

After Burgess singled with one out in the third, she eventually made it to third after a stolen base when she took off after Red Devil catcher Sidnee Morgan threw the ball back to Casto. Lamp’s RBI infield single made it 3-0.

Morgan reached on an infield single with one out in the fourth, but was erased on a 3-4-5 double play when DeLancey fielded Heather Randolph’s grounder and fired to Sullivan, who was covering first. Sullivan then threw across the diamond to Lamp at third and Morgan was called out.

Ray, who walked just one, allowed back-to-back two-out singles in the fifth to Kennedy and Cubides, but retired the final seven in order. She ended her shutout in style by getting a called third strike on Tiffany Highley.

The Rebels, now 22-3, added an insurance run in the fifth to make it 4-0 when DeLancey doubled, stole third and scored on Burgess’ RBI base knock to right. In the sixth, Ravenswood (17-9) found itself down 5-0 after Caitlin Kirk walked and pinch-runner Cali Hayes scored on a bases-loaded RBI walk by DeLancey.