LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
OWENSBORO—The Worth/KHSAA Fast Pitch State Softball Tournament could not have started much better for South Laurel. The Lady Cardinals scored twice in the top of the first inning and had little trouble getting past George Rogers Clark 5-2.
“It is always so important to get them early. That puts pressure on the other team and it’s supposed to loosen us up,” South Laurel coach James Burns said.
Leading the charge for the Lady Cardinals were the team’s two seniors. Nellesha Murray and Hagan Burns combined for four of South Laurel’s seven hits. Murray drove in three runs, including two with a two-out double in the first inning.
“(Murray) stepped up and played a really good game. That’s good because she is a senior. That’s senior leadership. She did that in the region too,” Burns said.
The first inning began with Madyson Morris stroking a one-out single and Burns reaching on an error. With two outs, Murray lifted a fly ball to deep left field. The right fielder broke in on the swing and could not recover as both runners scored.
Burns said it was just as important to hold the lead when George Rogers Clark came to bat.
“We scored two and we shut them down. I don’t think their leadoff hitter got on all night and she was a .600 hitter,” Burns said.
George Rogers Clark would not get a hit off of Burns until the third inning. They wouldn’t manage a second hit until the fifth inning. Burns walked just one batter on the night and struck out seven.
“We played good defense. Hagan pitched a great game. We hit the ball well at times,” Burns said.
South Laurel would add a run to its lead in the fourth inning. Destiney Salva walked and Kaylee Norvell reached on an error when the first baseman dropped the tag on Norvell’s bunt. Salva scored on Haley Shelby’s bunt.
In the fifth inning, Burns doubled and Mackenzie Powenski singled. Murray singled to left to drive in one run. A grounder by Leslie Dixon scored Powenski for a 5-0 lead.
George Rogers Clark did start to find its offense in the sixth inning. Other than a leadoff single off the fence, the hits in the inning were a bunt and a slap single. It was enough to break the shutout with a run.
“We called time just to go out and calm them down a little bit. I thought we were still all right,” Burns said.
A walk led to a run in the seventh inning for George Rogers Clark, but a South Laurel defense that played error-free and turned a flashy double play in the fifth inning remained in control.
“If you lose you’re in a pit. If you lose that first game in the state tournament, you don’t have much chance,” Burns said.