Rebels win pitcher’s duel
Ellott picked up her 13th win on the year
ELLENBORO — Attendees intent on offensive fireworks as Ritchie County faced fellow Little Kanawha Conference West team St. Marys Wednesday evening left disappointed.
Rebel ace Chloe Elliott and Blue Devils’ ace Mahayla Nichols dueled back and forth late into the game. Seven hits were all the batting orders could muster against the mound giants. Elliott added 12 strikeouts, while Nichols struck out nine.
As the game went on, it became clearer the first club to score likely would bag the W.
This turned out to be the case.
Alyvia Pittman’s triple past the glove of a stretched-out St. Marys’ center fielder Sydni Hinton proved the difference. Her knock drove in teammate Sara Goff, who reaced on a bunt single in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Goff’s speed helped her beat the throw Nichols fielded roughly in the middle between home plate and the pitchers mound. The Rebel touched the bag before the ball even reached first baseman Lara Fetty’s glove.
“You can’t get her out,” said Ritchie County head coach Dave Mossor. “She dumps the ball and they were right on top of it but she has speed to burn. It is amazing. I have eight girls on this team who can run 60 feet in under three seconds and she is one of them.”
Kayla Holbrook added an insurance run the next at bat as her double to left center plated Pittman in the 2-0 Ritchie County win.
Elliott then struck out four of the final six hitters she faced on her way to victory No. 13.
“My curveball was the most effective out there,” said Elliott on her outing. “St. Marys’ hitters were back in the box and I threw it outside curve and they would swing every time.”
Nichols and Marissa Brookover gave St. Marys reason to hope in the bottom of the seventh inning. They reached in sequence on a single and walk. However, Olivia Deweese and Hannah Dearth then struck out back-to-back. Cara Masters then lined a ball to third baseman Chaslyn Jones who stepped on the bag for the force out.
“I thought about getting them in scoring position but they probably aren’t are fastest two players,” said Blue Devils’ head coach John Mike Nichols.
The late action came in stark contrast to the opening innings.
Two base runners, one from each team, reached scoring position over the first three innings of the contest. St. Marys’ centerfielder Sydni Hinton took second base after a walk and passed ball in the top of the third. Ritchie’s Lillie Law responded with a double to left field in the bottom half of the frame.
“She (Nichols) is one of the fastest in our section and it kind of put us off I think. She throws a riseball and when she is pitching it throws us off when she throws two low and one high,” said Elliott on her Devils’ counterpart.
St. Marys’ best chances other than the final inning came in the fourth and fifth. Mahayla Nichols however was thrown out trying to add an extra base off Dearth’s sac bunt.
“I tried be aggressive and force something to happen in the fourth inning,” said St. Marys’ leader. “Sometimes in games like this sometimes you force things to happen to get a little excitement and it didn’t work.”
Ritchie’s outfielder and shortstop never covered the third base bag, but Chaslyn Jones made a nice recovery to apply the tag.
Mossor’s squad approved to 7-0 in the LKC West, while St. Marys fell to 3-4 as the conference season nears the end.