Despite its youth, the River Ridge softball team looks in midseason form through the first week of the season.

After five games played, the Lady Knights (5-0) have shut out their opponents four times and have outscored the opposition 51-2 during that span. Coach Andrew Marinelli said the hot start hasn’t come as a complete surprise despite at times having three freshmen and five sophomores in the starting lineup.

“I knew these freshman were special when I saw them play in junior ball,” Marinelli said. “I was curious to see how they would compete against varsity competition.”

Through five games, freshman Alexis Haehn sits tied with sophomore Grace Hamrick for the team lead in hits (six) and runs scored (seven), while fellow freshman Lily Bell isn’t far behind with five hits.

“I understand the growing pains are going to happen at some point, and I assume they’re going to happen sooner rather than later,” Marinelli said.

The team’s ace in the circle, junior Sydney Osada, has been lights out to start the season. Osada is 3-0 with a 0.82 earned run average in her three starts and has struck out 25 batters through 17 innings pitched.

Marinelli said this week’s schedule should provide a test for his younger players. River Ridge will play at home against Caimbridge on Monday night, before road games at Cherokee High School on Tuesday and at Harrison on Thursday. Cherokee is one of the most experienced teams in Cherokee County this season, while Harrison is the defending Class AAAAAA state champions.

“We’ve done a good job offensively so far this season of not relying on the one big inning,” Marinelli said. “We have a bunch of contact hitters this year, and we’ve been able to put people in scoring position more often. I think this week will be our toughest week yet.”

River Ridge will play at 5:55 p.m. on Tuesday at Cherokee High School.

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