By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Daria Casey struck out 12 batters as North Laurel’s 9-10 year old all-stars advanced to the winner’s bracket finals with a 7-1 win over Clay County.
“She pitched a wonderful game,” North Laurel coach Jonathan Sizemore said. “All six innings. You can’t ask for any better.”
Casey set the tone early as she struck out the side in the bottom of the first inning. She repeated that feat in the fifth inning. She struck out at least one batter in every inning.
While Casey was keeping Clay County hitters at bay, the North Laurel offense provided all the help she needed in the top of the second inning, scoring three times for the early 3-0 lead. North would add three more runs in the fourth and a single run in the sixth.
“It was important for us to score early,” Sizemore said. “Their pitcher threw a good game, but we took advantage every time we got on base. Our base running was very good tonight.”
After striking out two of the three North batters she faced in the first inning, Clay County pitcher Kylee Morris ran into trouble in the second, walking two of the first three batters she faced to load the bases for Maylee Philpot, who smacked a triple to right that scored Taylor Jones and Ashlyn Tyree for a 2-0 lead. Philpot would score on a passed ball to make it 3-0.
In the bottom of the second, with one out, Clay’s Makayla Cope reached on an error when the throw got away from first and rolled into right. But she was gunned down at third when Emma Thompson fired the ball to Casey, who was covering the bag and tagged out Cope to end the inning.
Casey ran into a little trouble herself in the bottom of the third where she walked two batters with one out. Ellie Finley then grounded out to second, but Ashton Jarvis scored on the play to cut the lead to 3-1.
North answered right back in the top of the fourth, scoring three more runs to up its lead to 6-1.
With one out, Haven Houston walked, then Philpot reached on an error. Both runners moved up on a passed ball, then Houston scored on another passed ball to make it 4-1. Philpot would also score on a passed ball. Meg Anderson was hit by a pitch and later scored on a passed ball to make it 6-1.
North added its final run in the top of the sixth when Philpot singled, stole second and third, and scored on an error to make the final 7-1.
“It was an all round good game,” Sizemore said. “Our defense played really well. I proud of the girls.”
North Laurel was scheduled to face the Pulaski County last night in the winner’s bracket final.