St. Mary's Ryken softball falls to Elizabeth Seton

By TED BLACK tblack@somdnews.com

Kacey Vallandingham'22 Softball

St. Mary's Ryken senior Kacey Vallandingham stands at third base following her leadoff triple in the WCAC contest against Elizabeth Seton. Vallandingham scored a bloop single by Emmaleigh Zagrodnichek to give the Knights a brief, 1-0 lead before the Roadrunners eventually rallied for a 3-1 victory. Photo by Ted Black. 

 

Three years ago St. Mary's Ryken High School senior Kacey Vallandingham was the only freshman on a talented Knights' softball squad that captured the 2019 Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship. Now she is the lone senior on a team seeking to overcome its youth and inexperience.

Last Friday afternoon, April 8, at Riverdale Recreation Park in Prince George's County against WCAC rival Elizabeth Seton, Vallandingham tripled and scored the Knights' only run in a 3-1 setback to the host Roadrunners. Ryken staked hurler Michaela Guy to a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth, but the Knights' pitcher was betrayed by her infielders over the next two frames and eventually suffered a narrow defeat.

"When I was a freshmen, there were five seniors and now I'm the only senior," Vallandingham said. "But I like working with the younger players. I just try to lead them by example every day at practice."

Guy limited the Roadrunners to three runs, one earned, on three hits and fanned 10 batters in six innings, but the two unearned runs proved decisive in the setback. Seton senior southpaw Sydney Shepherd was slightly better, holding the Knights to one run on four hits in seven complete innings to earn the victory. Ryken coach Stephanie Bolin commended Guy for her effort and Vallandingham for her patience as the lone senior.

"I thought Michaela pitched well," Bolin said. "We just didn't make all the plays behind her. But this is a young team. Our goals have not changed. I mean, we're still the reigning WCAC champions. Kacey is our only senior this year. She's been playing well and providing a leadership role for the younger girls."

Ryken had the first genuine scoring chance in the top of the third when Jalyn Kennedy smacked a one-out single, but then was erased at third attempting to advance on a wild pitch. Vallandingham led off the fourth with a triple then scored on a bloop single to shallow right by Emmaleigh Zagrodnichek. Guy worked Shepherd for a two-out walk but catcher Bailee Nored grounded out.

Ryken's 1-0 lead was genuinely short lived as the Roadrunners pushed across two runs against Guy in the home half of the fourth. Kimmya Sims led off the inning with a triple then scored on an infield single by Shepherd. Keagan Cooper reached on a fielder's choice and later scored on a groundout by Bekah Falcone.

After staking her to a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth, Shepherd retired the Knights in order over the last three frames and the Roadrunners added an insurance run in the sixth. Sims singled, stole second and third then scored on a fielding error. Guy fanned at least one batter in her six innings in the circle, stuck out five of the last six Roadrunners and finished with 10 strikeouts.

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