Senior Night went exceptionally well for the Fairview Lady Eagles on Tuesday night.
You could say it was a home run.
In her final home game, senior Katie Ritchie belted a two-run homer to center field in the bottom of the sixth inning that propelled Fairview to a 7-5 victory over Raceland.
It was the first long ball of Ritchie’s career and it could not have come at a better time.
“I have never hit a home run before,” exclaimed Ritchie. “All my teammates were hitting them. When I finally hit mine, I was crying as I rounded third base.”
The third baseman added a single and scored a run as Fairview tallied 10 hits.
Fairview coach Lauren Ellis contributed the hitting display to more patience at the plate.
“We weren’t very selective Monday night (against Greenup County),” Ellis said. “We really focused on seeing the ball well tonight. I’ve stressed seeing one pitch and just looking for that one ball and cut it in half.
“We hit the ball all over the field tonight,” she continued. “And I can’t ask for better than that.”
Sophomores Sarah Dunn and Rebecca Thompson contributed two-run dingers of their own. Both teams combined for four home runs as hitters were having trouble keeping the ball in the park on a windy evening in Westwood.
“We have hit the ball well all year long, just not with that kind of power,” Ellis said. “It just think it was time. Our girls were ready and we really saw the ball well tonight. Their mechanics were good and when you put a good swing on a good pitcher that is what happens.”
After Raceland (18-13) scored a run in the top of the third inning, Dunn sent a 1-2 pitch over the center-field fence, scoring Ritchie from first. A few batters later, Thompson parked a two-RBI blast, driving in Kara Adkins, to give Fairview a 4-1 lead.
Each team scored a run in the fifth inning on RBI singles by Raceland’s Savannah Mackie and Fairview’s Adkins to set the stage for a drama-filled sixth.
Madison Johnson drew a walk to start the Raceland rally and moved up to second on a Leigh Grubb single. After Fairview starter Tayler Thompson struck out the next batter, Kelsey Diller tattooed the first pitch over the right-field wall to tie the game at five.
Even though the lead was gone, Fairview’s seniors remained focused.
“We never got discouraged because we are known for coming back,” Ritchie said. “Raceland is a good team. We just knew we had to come together as a team and pull out a victory.”
As Thompson stood on first base after a fielder’s choice, Ritchie sent a deep drive to center that found its way over the fence and the celebration ensued at home plate.
Thompson pitched seven strong innings for the win. The sophomore recorded six strikeouts and gave up five hits.
“Every time I put her in the circle, I know she is going to battle,” said Ellis. “She hit her spots well tonight. That is a good-hitting club over there that she silenced for most of the game tonight.”
“Thompson kept us off-balanced tonight,” said Raceland coach Shawn Johnson. “She threw that changeup a few times tonight and froze us. We panicked at the plate a little bit.”
While his team was able to battle back and tie the game, Johnson was more discouraged about the at-bats that stayed inside the park.
“We hit way too many fly balls and routine pop-ups,” said a frustrated Johnson. “We put some pressure on them in one inning and made some things happen, but you have to hit better than that and force them to make tougher plays. The good thing about softball is you don’t have to wait long on your next game. You can erase a lot of things and hopefully we will do that.”
Prior to the game, Fairview (16-13) honored its two seniors, Erica Cordle and Ritchie. When asked about what her two veterans have meant to the program, their coach couldn’t stop smiling.
“They have been huge for our program and they have had good years,” said Ellis. “Erica has been great out in left field and I can’t say enough about Ritchie and her bat. They are going to be big losses for us and you can’t replace players like that.”
RACELAND 001 013 0 — 5 5 0
FAIRVIEW 004 012 X — 7 10 0
Diller and Curley; T. Thompson and Kirk. WP - T. Thompson (F). LP - Diller (R). HR - Dunn (F), B. Thompson (F), Diller (R), Ritchie (F).