WOODSTOCK — For the second time in team history, River Ridge is headed to Columbus.
River Ridge beat Glynn Academy 3-1 and 10-2 last Wednesday night and advanced to the Class AAAAAA elite eight in Columbus.
“Our kids were ecstatic,” River Ridge coach Andrew Marinelli said. “That last inning, instead of taking it one pitch at a time, I could tell they really just wanted those last three outs.”
River Ridge (21-11) wasted no time getting on the board in the first game of the series when Becca Bray scored on a ground ball by Cat McCulley in the bottom of the first. Gracie Hughes’ two-run single in the bottom of the fourth inning gave River Ridge a 3-0 lead, and starting pitcher Sydney Osada held Glynn Academy at bay before surrendering one run in the final frame.
Toward the end of the first game, Marinelli felt his team was starting to find its timing against Glynn Academy pitcher Annie Chance.
“Their pitcher did a good job of keeping us off-balance early on, but we started squaring her up late in the first game,” Marinelli said. “That just carried right over into the second game.”
The Lady Knights scored at least one run in every inning of the second game as they defeated Glynn Academy in five innings. Bray finished 3-for-3 with two runs scored and three RBIs, while McCulley finished 2-for-4 with one run scored and four RBIs.
Osada, a junior Georgia commit who picked up the win in both games, has been dominant through the first two rounds of the state playoffs, collecting all four wins and pitching every inning. In 22 innings pitched, Osada has allowed 10 hits, three earned runs and struck out 20 batters.
“Her ceiling is very high,” Marinelli said. “I don’t think she even realizes how good she can be. She’s done a great job and has really settled into that role for us. She’s never had a chance to pitch on that stage in Columbus, and it’ll be good to see her compete down there.”
Bray, the team’s lone senior, is the only player who has experienced the atmosphere in Columbus. As a freshman in 2016, she was on the first Lady Knights team to advance to the elite eight.
River Ridge will play at 2 p.m. on Thursday at the South Commons Softball Complex against either Coffee or Northgate.
River Ridge was quickly eliminated from the double-elimination bracket after losing its first two games in 2016, and Marinelli is hoping for a different mindset from his players this year.
“In 2016, it was such an accomplishment to get there, and once we got there, we sort of acted like the season was over,” Marinelli said.
“We’ll travel on Wednesday and try to find a college to practice at about halfway down before we head to our hotel. We’re going to enjoy this moment, but I also want them to refocus and go down there to compete. Our season’s not over yet.”