SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Solid hitting and great defense were key for Ritchie County (22-5) in the Rebels’ opening game of the Class A state softball tournament Tuesday morning.

Ritchie County’s lineup struck for four runs in the bottom of the first inning, and then added four more in the bottom of the fourth.

A round that was fantastic defense, which included a strike-em-out throw-em-out double play in the third, and a run-saving, inning-ending play by Alyvia Pittman in the top of the fourth inning.

Ritchie County scored nine unanswered runs, which was more than enough for ace Chloe Elliott on the mound. The Rebels start the tournament on the right foot, winning 9-1 in 4 1/2 innings.

“Notice the defense that we had?,” asked Ritchie County head coach Dave Mossor.

“That was the telling factor to what we could do.” Mossor added when asked about his team’s four-run bottom of the first. “

Midland Trail scored the first run of the game on a solo home run in the top of the first inning.

That was all the Patriots would get off Elliott, who finished the game with nine strikeouts.

Elliott held Midland Trail to just one run on six hits. Ritchie County’s lineup, meanwhile, teed off against Patriots pitching for nine runs on ten hits.

Four of those runs came in the bottom of the first inning. The Rebels took a 4-1 lead on a two-run home run by freshman catcher Jayci Gray.

“It was crazy. I didn’t even know what to think. My heart was beating so fast,” said Gray. “It was crazy, I was about to cry.”

Maci Irland padded the Rebels’ lead with an RBI-single in the bottom of the third.

Midland Trail threatened to make the game interesting in the top of the fourth, loading the bases with two out. But Alyvia Pittman kept the Patriots off the board with an outstanding defensive play from the shortstop position.

“Ball is hit bounding in the five hole. (That was) the only play we had. My shortstop threw the runner out at home. It was a bang-bang play, but it needed be made and she made it,” said Messor.

Momentum was completely on Ritchie County’s side after that. The Rebels added four more runs in the bottom of the frame to put the game out of reach.

Three quick outs in the top of the fifth ended the game early due to mercy rule.

With the win, Ritchie County now advances in the winner’s bracket of the Single-A tournament, and will play the winner of the Wahama/Petersburg game that is currently in progress.

Ritchie County will next play on Tuesday evening, approximately 30 minutes after the Single-A elimination game, which begins at 5:30 p.m.