Riverside knocked off the top-seeded Rector Lady Cougars 10-8 on Wednesday at Rector to claim the Region 4 3AA Championship after clinching a spot in the state tourney a day before by beating Cross County 7-6.
"If you had asked me two weeks ago if we would be playing in the state tournament at the end of the season, I would have laughed," said first-year Riverside softball coach T.J. Eakins. "But the way we are playing now, nothing surprises me about this team," said Eakins.
"We are coming together as a team. The players expect to win and I expect it too," added Eakins.
The turnaround came two weeks ago at the district tournament, also held at Rector, when the Lady Rebels made it to the championship game before losing to Rector. However, the confidence they gained from that tournament spilled over into the regionals and carried them to their first-ever fast pitch state softball tournament which begins Monday at Harrison.
"The turnaround came when we started making the plays," said Eakins. "We've always had the talent, but now we are playing good defense, which has led to our hitting the ball well. We're just a whole new team right now," said an excited Eakins.
Riverside, who will play the Region 2 runnerup team Rosebud at 1:30 Monday afternoon, claimed their championship by outslugging a very good Rector team, which had beaten the Rebels in their three previous meetings.
Riverside (12-11) scored two runs in the first inning, one in the second, two in the third, one in the fourth, and then added a four run fifth to build a 10-3 lead that Rector (17-4) could not overcome.
Sam Dunigan, who was 2-4 at the plate with a pair of RBIs, was the winning pitcher for Riverside, going all seven innings. Dunigan scattered 12 hits, struck out one, and walked six in the route going performance.
Tiffany Treece had three singles, drove in two runs and scored once, while Jesse Mann had three singles and two RBIs in Riverside's 15 hit attack. Amanda Milligan went 2-4 with one RBI and two runs scored, while Amanda Dunigan had two singles and two RBIs. Miranda Stephens ripped a double, drove in a run and scored once, while both Carrie Schoolfield and Christy Goodman each added singles and scored one run apiece.
Abbe McCarroll went 3-3, while Jessica Hill was 2-5 to lead the Lady Cougar attack. Tara Shepard was the losing pitcher, giving up all 10 runs, while striking out five and walking three. Rector will meet Greers Ferry Westside in the state tournament Monday afternoon.
The Lady Rebels advanced to the state tournament by winning a thrilling 7-6 game over Cross County on Tuesday in a semifinal matchup.
Riverside rallied from a 4-2 deficit by tying the game with a two-run fifth inning before winning it with a three-run seventh.
Sam Dunigan picked up the win despite giving up 13 hits. The key for Dunigan was her control as she allowed only one free pass in the game.
Riverside, which was limited to only five hits, took advantage of Cross County pitcher Robbi Guzman(s wildness, as the Lady Thunderbird pitcher walked 14 Lady Rebel batters in suffering the loss.
Riverside had five players with one hit each, led by Amanda Dunigan who was 1-3 with two runs scored and an RBI. Tiffany Treece was 1-2 with two RBI(s. Miranda Stephens went 1-4 with one run scored while Carrie Schoolfield and Amanda Milligan each added singles for the Lady Rebels.
Riverside made it to the semifinals behind the right arm of Sam Dunigan, who threw a perfect game in the Lady Rebels 15-0 whitewash of Hughes on Monday.
The Rebels got all the runs they needed in the first inning, when they scored five times to take a 5-0 lead.
Amanda Dunigan led the hit parade for the Lady Rebels going 3-4 with one RBI and two runs scored. Whitney Shasteen was 2-3 with an RBI and two runs scored, while Amanda Milligan went 2-3 with three runs scored. Tiffany Treece was 2-3 with a run scored and Jesse Mann went 1-3 with two runs scored. Sam Dunigan was 1-3 with one run scored, while Christy Goodman was 1-2 with a run scored. Carrie Schoolfield was 1-2 with a run scored and Miranda Stephens scored two runs as the Lady Rebels pounded out 13 hits to go along with seven free passes from the Lady Blue Devils' pitchers.