By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Pineville presented little opposition for South Laurel in its quest for a 13th Region title. The Lady Cardinals scored five runs in the first inning and seven in the second to coast to a 14-0 win.
“They came out and did what we asked them to do. They did what they had to do,” South Laurel coach James Burns said.
The Lady Cardinals batted around in each of the first two innings to build a 12-0 lead. The only inning South Laurel didn’t score was the fourth when Burns started to sub in some younger players. They still had a pair of hits and left two runners stranded in the fourth.
“They hit the ball well. They stayed back on the pitcher” Burns said. “Now we have to get ready for some speed.”
The speed Burns saw coming was North Laurel and pitcher Megan Baldwin. Although a meeting with its arch rival appeared to be at stake, South Laurel did not overlook a Pineville team with just eight wins on the season.
Burns advice to his players for the Pineville matchup was simple.
“Just stay focused on the game and get it over with. Right now it’s about moving on. You’ve got to win and move on,” Burns said.
Five of the first six hitters stroked hits and also scored for South Laurel. Amber Hyde drove in two runs with a single. Bailey Miller and Nell Murray also had RBI singles in the first inning.
The second inning was even worse for Pineville with 11 Lady Cardinals stepping to the plate. Cassandra Johnson led off the inning with a triple and scored on a groundout by Brittany Vandeventer. Hyde doubled and Hagan Burns tripled. Later in the inning it was Laura Williams with a two-run single. Johnson also drove in a run with her second hit of the inning. Johnson finished the night a perfect 4-for-4.
Hyde is currently tied for second place on the South Laurel single season home run list with 12. She almost inched closer to Emily Gaines 17 home runs with a double off the top of the fence to start the third inning. Hyde scored on a single by Burns. Megan Smith followed with an RBI single for a 14-0 lead.
The large lead allowed Burns to get everyone in the game and to allow Smith to pitch an inning in relief.
“We used both pitchers, so they are both ready for (North Laurel). They’re not overused,” Burns said.
Although it would have been easy for South Laurel to overlook Pineville, overlooking the opponent won’t be an issue Tuesday when the Lady Cardinals were scheduled face North Laurel in the semifinals.
“You don’t have to worry about focus,” Burns said.