Winter leads Riverside past Capital in softball sectional
QUINCY, W.Va. -- Riverside senior Sara Winter is getting closer to the end of her career with each pitch.
The determination to keep her season from ending is getting harder to match as Capital found out Tuesday evening in the opener of the Class AAA Region 3 Section 4 tournament.
Winter carried a perfect game into the fifth inning, but settled for a one-hit shutout as the Warriors defeated the Cougars 8-0 in a mercy-rule-shortened game. A crowd of about 50 attended at Riverside High School.
Riverside (19-14) earns a day off with the victory while Capital tries to avoid elimination against Ripley (13-5) at 6 p.m. today. The Vikings were No. 10 in this week's final state sportswriters' poll.
Winter, who went 2 for 3, laced a two-run single in the fifth to give the Warriors a 7-0 lead. Riverside then scored on an error to go ahead 8-0 and set up the mercy rule in the bottom of the fifth. She struck out five and walked none on an economical 48 pitches.
"It feels amazing to know I had such a good solid defense behind me,'' said Winter, whose jersey was covered with dirt after making several plays from the circle.
"Being a senior and I don't know if I'm going to play in college or not, it's down to the last couple of games and I know I have to really go out and help my team any way that I can.''
Winter retired all 12 batters she faced through the first four innings, but Capital's Courtney Burkhart led off the fifth with a bloop single on an 0-1 count that looped over the circle, landing in no-man's land.
Winter shrugged it off and retired the next three hitters on a popup, strikeout and, fittingly, a groundout back to the circle. She made five putouts among the 15 outs, including four straight. She turned in a sensational diving catch on a ball between home and the pitcher's circle in which she fully extended on the ground with her glove outstretched.
"She had a good, solid game,'' Riverside coach Mike Taylor said of Winter. "It looked like she had her game face on. She's done that lately. I think she realizes things are winding down and every time out it's one of her last times. She didn't have her velocity, but she hits her spots well.''
Destinae Schmidt and Destini Diegert went 2 for 3 and drove in a run apiece for Riverside while Harley Justice and Kaylea Wolfe each singled in a run.
"I thought our attitude, effort and focus was good,'' said Taylor, whose team advanced to the regional semifinals last year. "I feel pretty good about where we are. We're going to show up and play hard.''
"We have a great team and a good group of young girls,'' added Winter. "We're really hungry for a state title.''
Capital, which started five freshmen, committed four errors that led to three unearned runs.
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at email@example.com or 304-348-4811.