By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
After rolling through its first two opponents in the 9-10 State Tournament, North Laurel got their first test in the finals of the winner’s bracket. Despite a valiant comeback, North Laurel fell short against South Hardin 6-5 on Thursday.
“I was a little concerned. What I was concerned about was this was the first time really that these girls were going to come in and have a competitive game. They hadn’t seen that,” North Laurel coach Jon Sizemore said.
That may have showed in an uncharacteristic first inning when North Laurel fell behind 2-0. They trailed 5-1 going into the bottom of the fourth inning.
“It took us about three or four innings before we got ready to play in that game. We made a good comeback, but it just wasn’t enough and it was too late,” Sizemore said.
Sizemore expected a comeback would happen as soon as the players settled into the game.
“I felt like we had a chance to win just because I know we are a good hitting team. When we need to we can hit the ball. I felt confident with our bats any time we can put runs on the board,” Sizemore said.
North Laurel’s first run came in the third inning when Daria Casey burned the centerfielder for an RBI double. Maddie Dagley scored on Casey’s hit after drawing a two-out walk.
South Hardin scored three runs with two outs in the fourth inning with key RBI singles from Kelsey Brangers and Sydney Clark.
North Laurel got those runs back in the bottom of the inning as the bats Sizemore expected started to produce. Kambrie Collier, Haven Houston, and Maylee Philpot opened the inning with consecutive singles. Houston and Philpot each drove in runs with their drives. Another run scored when Tia Gambrel reached on an error to make it a 5-4 game.
When South Hardin’s No. 9 hitter, Sydney Dearborn, led off the sixth inning with a walk it would be crucial. Dearborn worked her way to third base before scoring on an error to make it a two-run lead.
“That was a big run. Going into the last inning down by one, you get the leadoff batter on and you’re looking to get that run. When you’re down two you can’t bunt them over and you can’t try to move them just to get that tie. You‘ve got to play a totally different strategy” Sizemore said.
North Laurel would get the leadoff hitter on when Houston reached on an error. Philpot singled, which led to Houston eventually scoring on a wild pitch. Emily Sizemore singled with two outs. The threat would end there with the tying run at third and the winning run at second base.
North Laurel was scheduled to play in the finals of the loser’s bracket Friday with the winner facing South Hardin in the championship game.