Veteran Ridge rallies for win
MINERAL RIDGE — Experience is a major factor in high school sports.
A pair of teams on opposite ends of the experience scale squared off when Lowellville visited Mineral Ridge on Monday. Thirteen of the Rams 15 players are returning letter-winners. Mineral Ridge took advantage of the edge in veteran leadership to come from behind and defeat the Rockets, 7-6.
“They’re a good group,” Mineral Ridge coach John Scheckelhoff said. “They just have to play to their potential. I’ve taught them not to quit. The game is never over until it’s over. You know the saying.”
The Rams (5-6) must have been keeping that saying in mind when they trailed 6-5 entering the bottom of the sixth inning.
Freshman Aliyah Wall is the No. 9 hitter in the batting order for Ridge. Wall looked more like a clean-up batter when she led off the inning. She lived up to her name by hammering the ball off the center field wall for a double. The ball smashed off of the Ridge Band Boosters sign right next to the 200-foot marker.
“We have a lot of heavy guns on the team,” Scheckelhoff said. “Once they start really popping the ball, it’ll be a whole different story. We have a lot of power in the lineup. We eliminated a lot of mistakes today.”
Senior Hailey Taylor had a bunt single after Wall stole third. Then, junior catcher Caylee Repp knocked them both in to put the Rams ahead 7-6 heading to the seventh.
“We hustled,” Repp said. “We put our effort in. It was back and forth. We came through in the end.”
The Rockets took the early lead. They went ahead 2-0 after the first. Lowellville added another run to go up 3-0 in the second. The young Rockets couldn’t maintain the advantage as youth may have caught up with them.
“We’re very young,” Lowellville coach Josh Kelly said.
“This is our fourth game that we’ve lost by one run. Making crucial mistakes has kind of been how it’s gone for us this year. We have four seniors (Kennedy Kelly, Callie Kester, Marissa Rivera, Angelina Marsh). Everyone else has never played high school softball.”
They play this season, including starting pitcher Sophia Alfano.
Alfano was lifted for Samantha Kelly, who finished the game on the mound, and had an RBI hit to the outfield for Lowellville. Sydney Price also had a good day at the plate for the Rockets (5-7).
Mineral Ridge tied the game at 3 in the third. Then, the Rams fell behind again before eventually prevailing. Taylor started the game at pitcher for the Rams before giving way to senior Morgan Sigley.
“We want to keep pushing right now,” Sigley said. “We want to win districts. When tournament time comes around, we want to go as far as we can.”
Coach Kelly wants his girls to get ready for the tournament as well.
“We have 10 girls,” Kelly said. “The mission has been to stay healthy. We have nothing but league games remaining. We want to keep improving every game and get ready for the tournament.”