RIPON – Madison DeGraaf was on fire for Ripon Christian softball on Saturday, leading the Knights to a twin-bill sweep of visiting Modesto Christian, 21-0 in five innings and 14-4 in six.
DeGraaf batted leadoff for the Knights (3-2) and did not disappoint, going 4 for 4 in the opener with a grand-slam home run, five RBI, three runs and a walk. She allowed no hits in three innings of work, striking out five and walking none. Sarah Brown pitched the fourth and fifth, striking out two and allowing two hits.
“I was kind of struggling with some pitches so I decided to work through them,” DeGraaf said. “At bat I just kept telling myself to wait on it and make good contact.”
DeGraaf’s battery mate Elizabeth Thomas also reached base five times, going 3 for 3 with an RBI, double, three runs and a pair of walks.
“I had to really be cautious to wait on the pitches and not lunge forward,” Thomas said. “I had to work on my mechanics.”
Nicole Chapman cleared the bases with a double, going 3 for 4 with three RBI, a pair of doubles, three runs and a walk.
“It was a good game,” Chapman said. “We had some good defense and Madison pitched really well.
“Hitting was on top of it. We had some new girls that were able to come in and hit and they did really well.”
Ripon Christian racked up 16 hits. Morgan Van Elderern (2 for 3, two RBI, three runs) and Rylie Nunes (3 for 3, three runs) also had the big bats for the Knights.
“We have been doing nothing but hitting and hitting and hitting,” Ripon Christian coach Lennie Rizzuto said. “And it was great to see Maddie hit one out – that was awesome. She is getting a lot stronger and a lot better.
“We need to work on communication and defense. Maddie may be stronger on the mound because she worked hard in the off season, but what got us to the championship last year was our defense. We are trying to figure out who will replace Katie O’Leary at shortstop and those are some big shoes to fill. We are looking at a few girls to fill those shoes and hopefully one will emerge.”
The Knights found themselves down 3-0 in the second game before rallying back, scoring six runs in the fifth inning before ending it in the sixth on the mercy rule.
“I was impressed with how we rallied after being down,” Rizzuto said. “They pulled it back together and took care of business.”
Chapman went 3 for 3 with three RBI, two doubles and three runs. DeGraff (2 for 3, double, run) and Kelly Engel (2 for 4, run) each had a pair of RBI.
DeGraaf threw three no-hit innings, striking out eight and walking one.