LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Three runs down with just four outs remaining, South Laurel rallied for a 6-3 win over North Laurel in eight innings Thursday.
“It’s always a big win when you beat somebody that’s rated the top 15. When you beat North it’s always big. It’s the county Super Bowl,” South Laurel coach James Burns said. “It’s a big win for us to go on and to show that we can compete with those kind of teams.”
The Lady Cardinals had been shutout and managed just one hit off North Laurel starter Megan Baldwin before the sixth inning rally. An error gave the Lady Cardinals their first break and then the bats came alive.
“South is a good enough team that if you make an error they are going to take advantage of it,” Osborne said.
The South Laurel win may not have avenged the 12-8 loss to the Lady Jaguars in the final of last year’s 13th Region Tournament. Burns said it could be important should the teams meet with high stakes again this year.
“We hit her well in the region last year. We can hit. We’ve got a good hitting team. We’ve just got to believe we can hit. It’s in our heads right now,” Burns said.
North Laurel seemed to control the game with a soft grip after taking a lead in the first inning. Vanessa Smith hustled out an infield single and Kristin Fields followed with a majestic home run to left centerfield.
“I made an error on that pitch. I was dyslexic and gave the signal backwards and she nailed it. Anything that goes that far ought to have a stewardess on board,” Burns said.
A highlight-reel catch by Laura Williams in right field turned into a double play and may have kept the Lady Jaguars from adding to their lead in the second inning. They would tack on one more run in the third. Sidney Herrell singled and scored on a base hit by Fields.
Baldwin was cruising along with 12 straight batters retired. That streak would end with two outs in the sixth inning and an unlikely error from Herrell.
“She never does that,” Burns said.
Herrell had thrown herself around all game like a crash-test dummy, diving repeatedly for grounders, diving into bases, and possibly pulling a muscle trying to beat out a throw to first base. The error didn’t look like much at the time, but it would be the break South Laurel needed.
“They won’t give up,” Burns said of his team.
They caught another break when a grounder by Destinee Fisher was deflected just enough by Baldwin to keep the infield from getting an out. Chelsea Wemes drove in the first run with a single. Amber Hyde smoked a double to left field that drove in the game-tying runs.
“(Baldwin) was doing good. You see a girl from South not able to pull it all season. You give her an inside pitch and she almost hits it to the fence,” Osborne said. “That shows you what momentum does in a ballgame.”
North Laurel threatened in the sixth inning with walks to Fields and Baldwin. They were stranded there.
“We played good defense. We hit the ball when we needed to hit the ball,” Burns said.
Casie Finley led off the eighth inning for South Laurel. She worked the count full before stroking a single to left field. Fisher laid down a bunt, which turned into a hit when Emily Sears’ shoe gave out as she planted to make the play.
“We got a break on the bunt when she lost her shoe. I think all the runs were pretty much earned,” Burns said.
Wemes’ clutch single drove in Finley with the go-ahead run. When the throw to the infield got away, Fisher scored as well. The Lady Cardinals added an insurance run when a drive by Hyde deep into the right field corner was snared by Mikayla Vires. Wemes tagged and scored on the play.
“They got ahead of us and we didn’t stop. We played hard. We came back. We won the ballgame,” Burns said.
The Lady Jaguars opened the bottom of the eighth with singles by Smith and Fields. The game ended with three straight pop-ups.
“It’s over. It’s done. I’m not worried about it, I’m worried about the games that are in May,” Osborne said.