ELDON – After having to fight to the very end not once, but twice this year to get by their Southeast Superconference north division rivals, the Cardinal softball team showed just how far they’ve come as a team Tuesday in its postseason opener.
Cardinal answered an opening inning run by Van Buren Tuesday immediately and never looked back, picking up what proved to be by far their easiest of three wins this year over the Warriors in the first round of Class 2A, Region 5 play. Lindsey Davis drove in two of her three runs in the opening inning on a two-run single to left that gave the Comets a lead they would never relinquish because sophomore pitcher Delaney Ridgway wouldn’t let the Warriors get anywhere close to challenging the advantage.
Ridgway allowed just two base runners after giving up two hits and the first-inning run to the Warriors, allowing just four Van Buren base runners all night in a 6-1 postseason triumph. The victory sent the Comets rolling Wednesday into a showdown with fourth-ranked Highland, which beat Cardinal once this year 6-3 and got an eyeful of what their opponent is capable off on Tuesday when they visited the softball diamond.
Ridgway and the Comet defense showcased a dominant stretch of play, retiring the final 10 Warrior batters of the contest.
“I always just work on location and trying to work on different pitches,” Ridgway said after earning her 10th win of the season in the pitching circle. “I’m a young pitcher. I know the other team is going to hit the ball off of me. My location and my different pitches makes sure they don’t hit the ball hard.”
The sophomore showed that early-season maturity in the way she allowed her only run. Facing a powerful hitter in Van Buren’s Jordan Billups with Caitlyn Millard at third, Ridgway allowed the Warrior clean-up hitter only a bloop single beyond third to produce a 1-0 Van Buren lead.