RIDLEY TWP. >> When Ridley learned it had drawn Garnet Valley in the first round of the District 1 Class 6A playoffs, the Green Raiders were excited.
They were giddy to face their Central League rivals for the third time this season. It was a chance for payback after Garnet Valley won both prior meetings.
For Ridley, the third time was a charm Tuesday afternoon.
Ridley gets 2 runs on an RBI single by Gabby DiNardo. 3-1 Ridley, bottom 6th. pic.twitter.com/AS5AY0TQBu
— Matt Smith (@DTMattSmith) May 23, 2017
“We were out for revenge,” junior Gabby DiNardo said.
DiNardo singled home two runs to break a tie in the bottom of the sixth inning and No. 16 Ridley crossed the dish five more times in the frame, leading to a comfortable, 8-1 victory over No. 17 Garnet Valley.
The Green Raiders (15-6) travel to top-seeded Spring-Ford (18-2) for a District 1 Class 6A second-round game Wednesday.
DiNardo slapped a hit past second baseman Hope DiMario to drive home courtesy runner Jodi Eisenhuth, and an error on the play enabled Heather Bogardus to score Ridley’s third run.
“I knew I was going to crush the ball,” said DiNardo, Ridley’s cleanup hitter. “I was just thinking, I have to get on base, I have to get the hit. We have to stay up. We just know everyone is going to hit and score.”
From there, the Green Raiders seemed unstoppable. Ten batters reached the plate (Julia Buckley, who led off the inning, singled twice). While DiNardo put the Green Raiders ahead to stay, the big blow was a two-run double off the bat of sophomore third baseman Ashley Shanks, who went 3-for-3 with three RBIs on the afternoon.
“We wanted to crush them.” Shanks said. “We wanted to be, like, ‘We’re winning this because we want to keep going.’ I think we were all hype (in the seven-run sixth inning). We were all, like, we want to lock this down, we want to win and we want to win big.”
A pitchers’ duel between Ridley All-Delco Leigh Ann Jenkins (four hits, two walks, seven Ks) and GV freshman Becca Halford was brewing until the Green Raiders busted out the boom sticks in the bottom of the sixth. The key for Ridley was to maintain a patient approach against Halford, who leaned on her offspeed offerings to force hitters to flail at bad pitches.
“We had to get her timing down a little bit,” Shanks said. “She was going outside a lot and she was throwing slow, so you had to wait on her and then go.”
This was Ridley’s first playoff win in recent memory. In 2015, the Green Raiders qualified for districts in the old Class 4A bracket, only to suffer a first-round defeat to Hatboro-Horsham.
First-year coach Brooke Berger, a 2009 Ridley grad, never had the opportunity to play on a team that reached the district tournament.
“I told them, ‘It’s our time for revenge. We’ve got to get it back,’” Berger said. “These girls all year have fought from behind and fought in close games, and games that people thought we couldn’t win, we won. This team just never gives up. Even when it’s 1-1, I’m just thinking, when are the bats going to start? Are we ready yet, are we going to play now? I was just kind of waiting for it.”
— Matt Smith (@DTMattSmith) May 23, 2017
Shanks powered the offense with three hits, while Buckley and DiNardo collected two apiece. Bogardus reached base twice and freshman catcher Abby
McCoy stroked an RBI double in the sixth.
“I think we had a better eye (in the sixth inning). We laid off her junk, while before we were swinging at pitches we shouldn’t have been swinging at,” Berger said. “The umpire had a tight zone, so we learned that we could get away without swinging at that outside pitch.”
Shanks knocked in DiNardo with a single in the first to give Ridley a 1-0 lead. Garnet Valley (12-9) responded in the fourth when sophomore catcher Lindsey Hunt (two doubles) blasted a ground rule double to center and scored on a single by Audrey Shenk.
Now the Green Raiders will be a heavy underdog Wednesday at Spring-Ford. That’s perfectly fine by them.
“We have to stay up and play like we played this game,” DiNardo said. ‘We’ll be OK.”
Top photo: Ridley’s Julia Buckley had two hits Tuesday to help the Green Raiders beat Central League counterpart Garnet Valley, 8-1, in a District 1 Class 6A playoff game. (Photo by Anne Neborak – Digital First Media)