QUINCY, W.Va. -- Sara Winter couldn't have dreamed of a better ending Friday night.
The Riverside senior belted a home run in the top of the seventh inning, the first of her four-year high school career, as host Riverside staved off elimination with a 12-8 victory over Ripley in the Class AAA Region 3 Section 4 softball tournament. A crowd of about 100 attended the matchup at Riverside High School.
Riverside (20-15) will host Ripley (15-6) at 1 p.m. today in the deciding game. Ripley finished No. 10 in the final state sportswriters' Class AAA poll. The winner advances to Thursday's Region 3 semifinal at South Charleston.
After both the Vikings and Warriors beat Capital to eliminate the Cougars, Ripley shut out Riverside 4-0 Thursday in the double-elimination tournament.
"The difference today, we came here to win,'' said Winter. "[Thursday night] we didn't leave on a good note. We knew we weren't expected to win [Friday] and this season we're here to prove people wrong.''
Ripley scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth Friday, highlighted by Myranda Murphy's two-out, two-run single, to close within 10-8 and seize the momentum. Winter answered in the top of the seventh with a two-out, two-run shot to center field on a 3-2 count to set the final score and give the Warriors some breathing room.
"It felt really good to do it in sectionals and definitely in a game we were not expected to win,'' beamed Winter, who said that Friday's round-tripper was only the second she had hit at any level.
"When I got here today I told myself I was going to hit the ball and I wasn't going to strike out. [Thursday] I didn't have very good at-bats. When I got down 3-2 I was just really looking to hit the ball. I didn't feel the home run, but I saw it so that makes it even better.''