After opening their spring trip to Myrtle Beach with a loss to a defending Pennsylvania state champion on Wednesday, the Riverside Beavers bounced back with a pair of wins on Thursday.
Wednesday’s game was Riverside’s first since opening the season with a 12-1 win at Mentor on March 31.
“It sort of felt weird playing three games in two days,” said Riverside coach Bill Ross. “We were just kind of getting back into it. It’s been a while.”
Beaver High School edged Riverside on Wednesday, 1-0, behind Virginia Tech commitment Payton List, who limited the Beavers to just two hits and struck out 14.
Not to be outdone, Riverside’s Grace Fisher nearly matched List with 11 strikeouts. She allowed just one run on four hits in the loss.
Fisher was equally dominant in Riverside’s 2-0 win over Greenbrier Christian on Thursday. Greenbrier won its ninth straight Virginia state championship last spring. Fisher allowed just four hits and struck out 13 in her complete-game victory.
“I was super proud of the girls for coming back and the biggest thing was seeing Grace out there battling against both of those teams. Giving up just one run in two games against two defending state champions is super impressive for her and she had 24 strikeouts in those two games.”
Fisher has now allowed just two earned runs on 15 hits with 33 strikeouts in 19 innings of work.
“It feels great to play such great competition,” Fisher said. “(Wednesday) was a tough loss to a very good team, but (we came) out the next day with the mentality of the next pitch. I pitched against two very strong and talented teams. Going up against these teams and performing the way I did definitely helps to boost my confidence, especially since we have not been able to play back home with the rain.”
In the circle, Fisher relies on her ability to spin the ball and hit her spots to stay ahead of batters.
“I really focus on my spins and moving the ball around the plate because it helps me perform to my best ability,” she said.
Amanda Kolar and Delaney Keith both had hits against Beaver but Riverside wasn’t able to string together hits against a dominant pitcher.
“We had opportunities,” Ross said. “We had runners in scoring position three times. It’s just that kid was good. I mean, she really was, so I give her credit. Every time we got in scoring position, she was able to get out of it.”
The Beavers found a bit more success against Greenbrier.
Keith led off the bottom of the second with a triple and pinch-runner Annaliese Davis scored on Maren Kelly’s RBI single. Makayla Boswell doubled Kelly home later in the inning.
That was all the run support Fisher would need as she pitched out of a self-inflicted jam in the sixth.
After recording the first out, Fisher walked the next two batters and loaded the bases with a two-out walk. She struck out the final batter of the inning and retired Greenbrier in order in the seventh to seal the win.
Riverside closed out the day with a five-inning, 12-0 win over the Cheraw Braves from South Carolina.
The Beavers pounded out 18 hits in the shortened game and Davis made her first appearance in the circle.
She allowed just one hit and struck out seven in the shutout.
“It was nice after those last two games coming down to the wire to be able to go out and put a decent amount of runs up in the first inning and be able to take some of the pressure off of that whole game,” Ross said. “It was nice because Annaliese Davis was in her first start as a freshman pitcher and she’s going to be pretty good for us. It was nice to her to be able to get her first start and to get that run support.”
Emma Kovalchuk finished that game 3-for-3 with three doubles, three runs scored, and three RBI. Allison Buttari, Milana McCaleb, Kayla Bobeczko, and Kelly each had two hits for the Beavers, and Keith legged out a home run.
“It feels amazing to finally be back out on the field,” Keith said. “It is always so much fun to play with the girls around me and I feel confident around them knowing that we always have each other’s back.”
Keith’s home run came in the first inning after Kovalchuk doubled home McCaleb for an early 1-0 lead.
“The home run was hit off an outside rise ball,” she said. “It felt solid and clean off of the bat. Even though the home run was inside the park, as soon as I saw how far the ball was hit, I stepped on the gas pedal and ran as hard as I could.”
With multiple extra-base hits on the day, Keith’s confidence is soaring.
“I am full of confidence in the box this season,” she said. “After losing my hitting coach last September, I was not sure how I was going to perform this season, but every swing I take I think of what Scott would tell me in the cages. Working hard at practice and staying focused at the plate has helped me gain confidence in my swing.”
Keith finished the day 2-for-5 with a triple and a home run and two RBI. Kovalchuk was 3-for-6 on the day with the three doubles. Buttari was 3-for-7 and Kelly was 3-for-5. Fisher added a pair of hits and an RBI and Boswell, McCaleb, Bobeczko, and Meghan Lehner each recorded two hits.
Riverside will close out its spring trip on Friday with a doubleheader against Louisa County (Va.) and Socastee (S.C.) at 8:00 and 10:00 a.m., respectively.