An explosion of runs and a perfect game by junior Nolensville starting pitcher Rylan Smith, gave the Lady Knights softball team (20-8-2, 6-1) an 11-0 win over the Ravenwood Lady Raptors (5-14, 0-4) at home on Senior night Thursday.
“It is a great recovery from our disappointing loss on Tuesday,” said Nolensville head coach Luke Patton. “It was great for our offense to get Rylan some runs right out of the box in the bottom of the first inning. The way she was pitching tonight; that was all we really needed. She was spinning the ball well.”
“Defensively, we played a pretty good game,” said Ravenwood head coach Allison Brown. “I saw a lot of growth and improvement in the areas of fielding and defense. I am really proud of the girls on that. Offensively, Rylan threw a good game today. We were having trouble getting contact, so we switched to bunting. It helped us a little bit, but we still were not seeing the ball today.”
“It was a fun game,” said Nolensville junior starting pitcher Rylan Smith. “We couldn’t have done it without our phenomenal batting. No matter how well you pitch, you need a solid offense. They produced that tonight.”
“This district win was really good for our team,” said Nolensville freshman outfielder Jaycee Bilbrey. “It builds us and keeps us going.”
“We played really well tonight and I am excited about the shutout,” said Nolensville senior third baseman Paige Dickinson. “Our hitting was just contagious. Rylan had a great game pitching and we never got down.
There was a ceremony before the game to honor Nolensville's three seniors: Paige Dickinson, Savannah Maynard, and Ella Satinoff.
In the top of the first inning, Ravenwood remained scoreless as Nolensville starting pitcher Rylan Smith started out strong, striking out the side.
Nolensville’s bats started to heat up in the bottom of the first with a solo homerun by freshman Jaycee Bilbrey and a two run homer by sophomore first baseman Sydney Dickinson along with a run scored on a wild pitch to give the Lady Knights a 4-0 advantage.
“It felt really good to get that homer,” said Bilbrey. “I have been in my head recently, so it felt good to get out of it and get a big hit.”
Smith continued to deal in the top of the second striking out the side again to keep the Nolensville edge at 4-0.
The Lady Knights offense surged in the bottom of the second with an RBI single from Bilbrey, a two run homer by sophomore second baseman Kendra McNeil, and a run scoring from third on a groundout by Page Dickinson to stretch the Nolensville margin to 8-0.
Smith continued to roll for Nolensville in the top of the third, striking out the Lady Raptors in order to keep the lead 8-0.
In the bottom of the third inning, Nolensville padded their advantage with an RBI single from senior right fielder Savannah Maynard and a RBI double from freshman left fielder Addi Leichty to increase their lead 10-0.
The Raptors struggled to get into a rhythm in the top of the fourth as Rylan Smith continued to be a thorn in their side, drawing two flyouts and a strikeout swinging to stay ahead 10-0.
Nolensville played small ball in the bottom of the fourth taking advantage of a leadoff double by sophomore Mckenna Cupit, advancing to third on a groundout and then scoring from third before a throw to first base completed the strikeout. The Lady Knights extended their margin 11-0.
“We were kind of struggling a little bit to score runs on Tuesday,” said Rylan Smith. “The way we came out at practice Wednesday and especially with a leadoff home run by Jaycee Bilbrey, a freshman, I think it just put an amazing tone on the game.”
“I think tonight we really stepped up to the plate with confidence,” said Page Dickinson. “We just got the bats hot from the beginning. Jaycee’s home run put us off to a good start.”
“I have to look it up, but three homeruns might be a team record for us,” said Coach Patton. “It was nice to see it from the leadoff spot and the middle of our order as well. They came out today with a lot of confidence.”
In the top of the fifth inning, Smith once again struck out the side. The game was ended by run-rule at this point, due to Nolensville having ten runs or more lead after five innings (11-0).
Rylan Smith threw her first career perfect game tonight for Nolensville.
“It is very exciting, especially at the end when you get to celebrate with your team,” said Smith. “Spinning the ball around is so fun.”
“Rylan has been close on getting perfect games,” said Coach Patton. “She has had two no-hitters and several one hitters and now a perfect game. When she is throwing like she did tonight, it is really hard for people to hit her because the ball is moving so much. She is dancing around that strike zone quite a bit.”
“She is a really good pitcher, and we love her as a teammate,” said Bilbrey. “We really value her. Without her, we would not be where we are today.”
“She has done really well and has only gotten better as she has gotten older,” said Page Dickinson.
Nolensville is in a battle with the Summit Spartans. Both teams sit at the top of the District 12 AAAA standings with one loss each.
“They are a good measuring stick for us,” said Coach Patton. “We are jumping from 2A to 4A this year, and they (Summit) finished third in the state last year. We have had two really close games with them. When you are in a tight race like this, we feel the pressure just as much as they do. The desire to win is strong on both sides, and whatever team comes out on a particular day has a shot at winning those games.”
“They (Nolensville) are really solid all around,” said Coach Brown. “Their one through nine is solid in the lineup, and they obviously have a good ace pitcher. They are pretty solid defensively. When you have all three of those you are going to be pretty set.”
Ravenwood will host district rival Independence on Tuesday.
“I am hoping we bounce back from this,” said Coach Brown. “We are trying to improve every single game. Right now we are struggling to at the plate, so I hope we can come out Tuesday, make some adjustments, and start to hit the ball hard.”
Nolensville will travel to Blackman on Monday and play Page at home on Tuesday in two non-district matchups.
“I really would love to see us continue our offense,” said Coach Patton. “This time of year, we really want things clicking, heading to the postseason. It is important for us to keep our confidence, especially at the plate.”