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River Ridge softball hits on all cylinders in topping defending state champ

Sophomore Victoria Nearing goes the distance in the 11-2 victory over Admiral Farragut, striking out six.
River Ridge pitcher Victoria Nearing, left, gives a high-five to Brooke Blankenship, middle, and Giulia Desiderio moments after Blankenship and Desiderio score during an 11-2 victory over visiting Admiral Farragut. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
River Ridge pitcher Victoria Nearing, left, gives a high-five to Brooke Blankenship, middle, and Giulia Desiderio moments after Blankenship and Desiderio score during an 11-2 victory over visiting Admiral Farragut. [SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times]

NEW PORT RICHEY — Except for a couple of brief scares, River Ridge has pretty much had its way in softball games early this season.

Case in point was Tuesday night’s clash with two-time defending Class 3A state champion Admiral Farragut. The Royal Knights took full advantage of some early gifts from Farragut (four walks, two batters hit by the pitch, four runs in the first inning) and some consistent hitting the rest of the way (seven hits total).

In the end, River Ridge cruised to an 11-2 victory without much trouble at all.

“We finally looked more consistent with our hitting,” River Ridge coach Kurt Goluba said. “We’ve had a couple of games where we weren’t so consistent.”

Namely comeback victories over Pasco and Wesley Chapel where the Royal Knights (5-0) had to score in the last innings of those games to win.

Related: High school softball rankings for Tampa Bay

Overall, Farragut (4-4) didn’t provide much spark on Tuesday, perhaps feeling a little sluggish after playing six games in five days last week (including four games over the weekend at the annual Palm Harbor University tournament).

River Ridge sophomore pitcher Victoria Nearing was pretty much in control from start to finish in the complete-game effort, scattering six hits, striking out six and walking just two.

Nearing, by the way, got the start after her teammate Jordan Sheets missed her scheduled start after suffering a concussion from a foul ball in practice this week. Sheets is expected to return 100 percent in a couple of weeks, where the rotation between Nearing and Sheets should start up again.

At the plate, Royal Knights freshman Sophie Johnson, though slight in build, continues to provide tremendous power. On Tuesday in the third inning, Johnson launched a fastball on a dead line drive over the leftfield fence, a three-run shot that gives her three homers on the year.

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