|Round one of the Oakland-Riverdale’s rivalry on the softball diamond went to the Lady Warriors on Tuesday night.
Riverdale went on the road and knocked off crosstown rival Oakland, 11-1, at Nelson Smotherman Field. Not only was it a win over a rival, it also was the District 7AAA opener for both schools.
“It fun and exciting, its one thing to play opponents that are good, but you do not know them,” Riverdale head coach Chrissy Bingham said. “It’s another thing when the kids are excited and pumped up to meet their first district opponent.
The scoreboard at Oakland was not working during the first inning, but that didn’t stop the Lady Warriors from putting runs across the plate. In the first two innings, Riverdale scored five runs, including two towering home runs.
In the top of the first, Riverdale starting pitcher Kristen Uselton helped her own cause by crushing a two-run homer over the left field fence to give the Lady Warriors an early 2-0 advantage.
While in the bottom half of the first, the Lady Patriots loaded the bases with singles by Abby Sargent, Savannah Lee and Aubrey Crowell. However, Chelsey Kirby could not hit the ball out of the infield, and Sargent was forced out at home. The following batter, Mary Beth Arnett struck out to end the inning. It would be the closest Oakland would get during the game.
“We had great defense, but when they got the bases loaded they were really getting hyped up,” Uselton said. “My defense was not going to let anything happen, and my catcher Sarah Higgins did a really great job of framing some pitches.”
The Lady Warriors broke it open in the top of second with three runs, which included a solo shot by Paige Byram. By the end of the inning, the Lady Warriors lead 5-0.
Uselton and the rest of the Riverdale defense kept Oakland in check as the only it gave up was a solo shot in the Lee in the bottom of the fifth. Uselton finished the game with seven strikeouts.
“It was a great night for her both at the plate and on the mound,” Bingham said. “She is always good on the mound, so it was just an added plus to get us the home run.”
While, the Lady Warriors offense put the game away with one run in the fifth, and five more in the sixth. Lady Warrior’s catcher Sarah Higgins had the big hit in the five-run inning with a two-run RBI double, which sent Brooklyn Pendergrast and Uselton across the plate.
The game called after six innings because of the 10-run mercy rule.
One of questions coming into the season was could Riverdale continue its domination in the area and state with the departure of long-time head coach Jeff Breeden to MTSU.
New head coach Christy Bingham, who has had some success of her own during her coaching career, put those fears to rest in Warrior nation and is looking to continue the recent tradition of the program.
As for Oakland, head coach Janice Morey’s team was coming off a runner-up finish in last week’s Commando Classic in Hendersonville against some of the best teams in the state, including district rivals, Siegel, Smyrna and the Lady Warriors.
The district part of the schedule continues for both teams today with Riverdale heading to Siegel, while Oakland travels to Smyrna.