‘Clutch much’ still alive for Panthers

Double Double Plays?

By Randy Lefko Sports Editor
Posted 5/4/22

ORANGE PARK - Ridgeview High softball has had a pretty good record of Final Four finishes topped off with nail-biting finishes to continue playing and a typical “Clutch Much” finish seemed in …

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‘Clutch much’ still alive for Panthers

Double Double Plays?

Posted

ORANGE PARK - Ridgeview High softball has had a pretty good record of Final Four finishes topped off with nail-biting finishes to continue playing and a typical “Clutch Much” finish seemed in order in Friday night’s 7-6 win over 7A-Creekside (15-8, 24th in Class 7A, 6A region semifinals last year) in front of the Panther faithful on Thursday.

The “Clutch Much” though came from defense. Read on.

“We have a young, good, scrappy team here, key word young, and they have made my life a little stressful,” said Ridgeview coach Casey Thompson, who now sits at 13-5, ranked fifth in 4A and as the top seed in the upcoming district 3-5A lineup to be hosted by rival Middleburg High School (12-11, 15th in 4A). “Libby (freshman pitcher Libby Bennett) is just a freshman and will become a great pitcher on the same page as Brittany Michael here at Ridgeview. At one point, she threw six balls in a row and that’s something that can be fatal in a playoff game. She does not panic though and that shows her quick regroup and recover.”

The clutch win over Creekside was something Thompson has seen before, but it still concerns him.

“I think last year we had 12 or 13 one run ball games,” said Thompson, including a 2-0 loss in the Final Four to eventual champion Eustis High. “Mary Girgis, a junior, has been on fire at bat and that is keeping the dugout hopping.”

In district 3-5A, which now pits Middleburg and Ridgeview after the Panthers were 4A last year and Middleburg in Class 6A, both teams were deep region finishers last year in their respective classes, but did not face each other all season.

R?idgeview gets the bye on the opening of the district tournament with Middleburg (12-11) playing Riverside (7-11), Columbia (4-16) playing Orange Park (3-17) and Ponte Vedra (11-11) playing Englewood (5-8). With both teams opposite in the bracket, wins over the tournament should have Ridgeview and Middleburg in the district championship game on May 5.

Against Creekside, with Ridgeview first ahead 1-0 off a Girgis single and steal and Creekside answer with a walk and single tying the game. Again Girgis singles and scores off a Natalie Foret single to put Ridgeview back up, but Creekside opened with a double and two singles sandwiching an error to go up 4-2.

A Creekside error and another Girgis hit tied the game at 4-4 with Ky Torrence slamming down a run-scoring bunt to put Ridgeview up 5-4.

Bennett struggled with a hit batter and double allowing Creekside to get back to 6-6 and set up the dramatic “Clutch Much” finish.

In the sixth, both pitchers slammed the door with three batters apiece.

In the seventh, with Ridgeview ahead 7-6 off another “Clutch” Girgis run scoring single, the drama turned to defense.

On two consecutive hard infield grounders; one to shortstop Paetyn Kirk, just a freshman, the other to second baseman Ky Torrence, just a sophomore, the quick-tossing infielders blasted two scoops and tosses for an impossible four outs in two plays, one might think.

Unfortunately, the first double play was deemed a late arriving throw amidst a 20 minute officials discussion with both coaches.

Seemingly unfazed, the second grounder whisked to Torrence who repeated Kirk’s previous scoop and Kirk delivered the game-ending strike to first base.

DONE.

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