4A-8 district softball: River Ridge relies on tireless ace

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Thu. April 21, 2011 | Derek J. LaRiviere

BROOKSVILLE — If one person could shoulder the load of carrying River Ridge to its first district title since 2008, her name had to be Lakyn Shull.

The star Knights pitcher was on the mound for back-to-back nights and the third time in the Class 4A, District 8 tournament to shut out Lecanto 2-0 Thursday.

Shull, who improved to 14-2 this season, tossed her third shutout in a row, the first of which was a perfect game against Nature Coast in the first round. The championship game performance against Lecanto (9-13) was a three-hitter with only two walks and 13 strikeouts. Overall, she finished the week with 29 strikeouts in 19 innings.

“They have some good hitters on (Lecanto),” River Ridge coach Ernie Beck said. “They were battling, but after the fourth inning Lakyn was just untouchable.”

For the past two games, she had to be. The Knights (22-4) offered only three runs of support for their ace in that span, including two in the title game.

With Lecanto starter Danielle Yant going the distance tossing all seven innings, she seemed to be putting out fires in every frame. River Ridge stranded five runners on base. The hitting hero Thursday night was third baseman Amber Jones (2-for-2, two RBIs).

“Some pitchers you have to be so patient with,” Beck said. “They played errorless ball in the field, so it made it tougher on us to put pressure on them.”

Beck hopes these close games will benefit the team when next week’s state playoffs begin. Although the offense hasn’t exactly been exploding lately, he knows his program’s advantage lies on the right arm of Shull.

“First of all, I don’t think anyone is going to score a bunch of runs against us,” Beck said. “We’ve played these close games against good teams on our schedule all year long. We’ll be ready for whatever we see.”

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