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Ryleigh Hunter comes up clutch as Gloucester softball squeezes past Kingsway

GLOUCESTER CITY (N.J.) - The Gloucester City High School softball team was in search of momentum ahead of a busy weekend.

Ryleigh Hunter delivered.

Hunter dropped a lawn dart into right field to score Rylie Zearfoss from second base and give the Lady Lions a one-run lead in the bottom of the sixth inning. She also caught the final out along the warning track to secure a 4-3 victory over Kingsway.

"It wasn't my best day at the plate but I'm just glad I was able to get the job done," Hunter said. "This was a really big team win and gives us a lot of swing towards this weekend."

Gloucester's Ryleigh Hunter knocked in the go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth inning to push the Lady Lions past Kingsway, 4-3, at William "Hawker" James Memorial Sports Complex in Gloucester City, New Jersey on Thursday, April 20, 2023. Chris Baker/D2 Sports Network

The Dragons broke the ice first with Ava Paoletti's one-run double in the top of the third inning, but the lead would be short-lived. Rowan commit Hannah Bryszewski and Widener commit Ava Iepson provided RBI singles in the bottom of the frame to give Gloucester a 2-1 lead.

Kingsway's Ellie Ward tied the game at 2-2 in the top of the fifth inning with a sacrifice fly.

The Lady Lions answered again.

Ava Rodgers gave Gloucester the lead in the bottom of the fifth with a one-run RBI double just a few feet shy of resulting in a two-run home run.

Kingsway took its turn to respond. Laney Thorp hit an RBI single to make it 3-3 in the top of the sixth inning.

Coming into her final at-bat in the bottom of the sixth, Hunter was 0-for-2 at the plate with a sacrifice bunt and a groundout to shortstop. The rest was history.

Holy Family commit Olivia George tossed seven innings and allowed three runs on 15 hits and struck out two for Gloucester. Kingsway's Jessa Pieters pitched six innings and allowed four runs on eight hits and earned four strikeouts.

Timely hits have been inconsistent for Gloucester at times this season. The situation jolted a change in the hitting lineup and paid dividends against Kingsway.

"I think we needed some consistency, so I flipped some girls around," Gloucester coach Megan Mason said. "A few girls made a big impact in their new spots and that's exactly what we were looking for."

The Lady Lions will play in the prestigious Hammonton Invitational Tournament this weekend with teams such as Donovan Catholic, Burlington Township, and the host Blue Devils all in their half of the bracket.

"We just take it one game at a time," George said. "We don't like to look ahead too far but no one should count us out moving forward."

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