WOODSTOCK - With one team already a full week into its schedule and the other playing its first game, it was the latter which executed in the crucial moments Tuesday at River Ridge.

Playing its first game of the season on the road, Cherokee won 5-2. Both teams' starting pitchers went the complete seven innings, but it was Cherokee’s Parker Modica who was able to squeeze out of trouble when it presented itself.

“Parker was amazing,” Cherokee coach Tonya Carlisle said. “These kids aren’t used to going complete games in the summer, but she had a gutsy performance. She had to find different ways to win throughout that game.”

Cherokee (1-0) took the lead in the top of the first inning when Gracie Mixson singled home Hope Jiles after Jiles led off the game with a double. River Ridge starting pitcher Sydney Osada seemed to settle in after that, pitching the next three innings while allowing only two hits and zero runs. 

The Lady Warriors opened the game up with a three-run rally in the top of the fifth inning, however, and it was then the Lady Knights’ turn to respond. River Ridge (6-1) loaded the bases with one out, but after a mound visit from Carlisle, Modica pitched out of the jam, allowing only two runs on a pair of fielder’s choice ground balls.

After the game, Modica said the words of encouragement from her coach, coupled with simple focus routine, helped her maintain her composure.

“She told me that these are the situations where great pitchers thrive, and that I was a great pitcher,” Modica said. “Before every pitch, I would look at the top of the concession stand to help me focus back in. It felt really good to get that win tonight, especially being able to pitch the first game.”

Cherokee added one more run in the top of the seventh inning when Ashlyn Mickler slid underneath the tag of River Ridge catcher Cat McCulley on a play at the plate. Cherokee outhit River Ridge 8-2 and played clean defense behind Modica, committing no errors in the field.

Jiles finished 3-for-4 with two runs scored and one RBI while Mixson finished 2-for-4 with one RBI for the Lady Warriors.

For River Ridge, Osada finished with seven innings pitched allowing eight hits and four earned runs, while striking out five.

Modica finished with seven innings pitched while allowing two hits, two earned runs, five walks and striking out four. According to Carlisle, allowing Modica to work through the jams throughout the game was important to building confidence in the junior pitcher.

“When she got tired, she had to make sure she sharpened her tools,” Carlisle said. “She came back about midway through that game, after she had been struggling, and did a great job to finish that game, and I really wanted to see her finish it.”

Cherokee will next play at 3 p.m. Saturday against Creekview at South Forsyth, while River Ridge will next play at 5:55 p.m. Thursday at Harrison.

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