LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
WILLIAMSBURG—Hagan Burns struck out 15 and South Laurel scored all its runs in the fifth inning in a 5-0 win over Clay County in the opening round of the 13th Region softball tournament at Whitley County.
“Hagan pitched really well,” South Laurel coach James Burns said. “She had them off-balance and hitting her spots.”
The Lady Cardinals used small ball to finally break through on Clay County pitcher Lesley Roberts.
Haley Shelby led the inning off by beating out an infield single. Brittany Vandeventer beat out a bunt single. Madyson Morris followed with a bunt of her own that loaded the bases for Burns, who singled to drive in the first Lady Cardinal run.
“That’s why we practice bunting,” Burns said. “We came out with small ball and got three base runners on in a row. We started to put some hits together.”
The bases were still loaded but not for long, as Makenzie Powenski singled to center, where the ball got away from the Clay County player, allowing three runs to score to make it 4-0. Powenski advanced to third on the play then scored on a ground out to short by Nell Murray.
South Laurel missed out on scoring chances early, leaving a runner on base in the first, two more in the third and two more in the fourth before finally breaking through in the fifth.
In the third Kaylee Norvell reached on an error to lead off the inning. Then with one out Vandeventer singled but both were left stranded. Powenski and Leslie Dixon both singled in the fourth, but again the South couldn’t find that hit to drive home a run.
“We had our chances early,” Burns said. “We had runners on second and third with one out but couldn’t get them in. That has plagued us all year.”
Clay’s first base runner came via a walk in the third and the Lady Tigers got their first hit in the fourth when Alex Smith led the inning off with a single, but Clay couldn’t score.
The Lady Tigers had runners on in the sixth and seventh inning but Burns was just too overpowering, keeping Clay from getting a timely hit.
With the win, South Laurel advanced to face Middlesboro last night. The two teams met earlier in the season with the Lady Cardinals taking an 8-2 win.
“Middlesboro has a strong team,” Burns said. “It should be a good game. Tonight we played an all-around good game.”