One Victory Away: Ninth-inning run puts Lady Eagles in state final


Ridgway Christian waited three years — and two extra innings — to compete for a state softball championship.

The wait’s now over.

Just two pitches into the bottom of the ninth inning, Beth Ann Rodgers stole third base and scored on a passed ball to give Ridgway a 7-6 victory over Garrett Memorial of Hope in a semifinal game of the Arkansas Association of Christian Schools state softball tournament at Seabrook Family Christian Center on Monday. The Lady Eagles will face Columbia Christian at 3:30 p.m. today at Seabrook for the championship.

“It would be big for us,” Ridgway coach Pam Turner said. “For Ridgway, it’d be awesome.”

Ridgway (14-2) defeated Garrett (7-4) for the second time in three meetings this season, but it was a challenge from the beginning. The Lady Eagles, who trailed 3-0 after 3 ½ innings, left six on base before they scored their first run (11 were stranded for the game).

Two runs scored for Garrett on a Sam Still single and another crossed the plate on an error at shortstop. The Lady Eagles finally pushed four runs across in the bottom of the fourth to take the lead.

A run scored on an error by the pitcher on Taylor Allen’s at-bat and another scored on a fielder’s choice before freshman Lauren Rose knocked in two runs on her third straight single of the game. Rose went 3 for 4 with a walk.

“They felt good and they felt right,” she said about the hits.

She also pitched all nine innings for the win, striking out six, allowing five hits and walking four.

“When it comes to pitching and everything like that, when they hit it, I just trust my team and I know they’re going to be behind me,” she said.

Jennifer Golden tied the game for the Lady Saints in the fifth when the catcher could not hang onto the ball on a 5-3-2 double-play attempt. The Lady Eagles went ahead 5-4 when Jordan Runion’s walked forced in a run in the sixth, but Kassady Shaw scored on a passed ball to tie it in the top of the seventh.

Each team scored in the eighth with the international tiebreaker (runner on second to start each extra inning) in effect. Sydney Santifer drove in Morgan Antley from third base in Garrett’s half of the inning, and Crystal McVay stole third and scored on a passed ball for Ridgway.

Rose threw out Kaylee Clark at the plate in the top of the ninth for the first out. She issued two walks, but got the Lady Saints to bat into an infield flyout and groundout to get out of the inning.

“I just tell her to relax and shut it down for us,” Turner said. “Our team helps her a lot. That’s what’s helping us; we’re playing as a team.”