LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
A valiant effort and a dramatic comeback by South London came up short as North Laurel escaped with a 4-3 eight-inning win in the Girls’ 9-10 All Star District Tournament. North Laurel gets a day of rest after sweeping through the winner’s bracket and awaiting a possible rematch with South London for the title.
“Excellent pitching from Kenzie Jervis. Good defense all the way around,” North Laurel coach Recil Jones said. “The pitching was outstanding for both sides.”
Jervis allowed just one run on four hits in the seven innings she pitched. She struck out 17 batters. North Laurel’s Payten Gregory matched her pitch for pitch, allowing one run on seven hits with nine strikeouts.
South London controlled the early stages of the game and showed it planned to come out swinging against the North Laurel ace.
“They came out and were not intimidated by Gregory. They were swinging the lumber,” Jones said.
Gracie Jervis led off the bottom of the first inning with a single and stole two bases. A ground out by Tori North allowed South to take the early lead. Singles by Kenzie Jervis and Emily Dalton had South threatening again, but a base running mistake and a strikeout ended the threat.
South London mounted another threat in the third inning when Allison Tonkel and Gracie Jervis both singled. Both runners would get thrown out on the bases.
Meanwhile Kenzie Jervis was throwing like a Cy Young winner. The first out recorded by the South London defense was on a steal attempt in the third inning. The first put out on a hit ball was a slow grounder to Dalton at first in the sixth inning. All other outs to that point were strikeouts.
“She kept us off-balance in the box and we never could get going. Finally we got a break there in the later innings,” Jones said.
The break came on a one-out single by Isabel Gray, followed by an infield single for Meghan Sechrest. Gray scored the tying run on a wild pitch. Sechrest tried to score as well on the play when the throw home was wide. Sechrest was tagged out, but Gray’s run would extend the game.
South London thought it may have won the game in the bottom of the seventh. Katie Vance lined a ball down the left field line and touched all the bases. There was some confusion over whether the ball had been called foul. As Vance crossed home with her arms raised the umpire made it clear the ball had been ruled foul. Jones said from his view the ball was well foul.
“It was a big relief on North’s side because that was a nice shot down the line. That would have produced a run and made the game go to the other side,” Jones said.
Both teams aces were out of innings and had to be replaced in the eighth. Dalton took the mound for South London. With Taylor Jones reaching on a walk, Sechrest doubled with two outs to drive in the go-ahead run. Walks to Haven Houston, Abby Lay, Walks to Haven Houston, Abby Lay, and Taylor Combs forced home another run. Tori North took the mound and allowed an RBI single by Gregory that turned out to be crucial.
Lay took the mound for North Laurel and was greeted by triples from Gracie Jervis and Kenzie Jervis.
“The two Jervis girls just put the bat on the ball all day,” Jones said.
Kenzie Jervis drove in her cousin for the first run and then scored on a wild pitch to make it a 4-3 game. Dalton drew a walk and went to second on a wild pitch. When Karly Johnson lifted a soft liner to shallow right field it looked like Dalton would easily score the tying run. Maddie Dagley broke quickly on the ball and made the game-ending catch.
“We just survived an excellent South team, good-coached team, good group of girls,” Jones said.
North Laurel will now play in the championship game tonight at 7 p.m.