LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
The last time South Laurel and Whitley County met on the softball diamond, the Lady Cardinals committed 12 errors in a 16-11 loss to the Lady Colonels back on April 23.
Last Thursday night the two teams battled again, with the Lady Cardinals playing error-free softball in a 6-3 win.
“That’s our third game in a row without an error,” coach James Burns said. “That’s key for us to be successful.”
Even though South (13-11, 3-1) banged out 12 hits and scored six runs, it could have had more, as the Lady Cardinals left 10 runners stranded in the game. Still, Burns was pleased with his team’s hitting.
“Hitting is about feel,” Burns said. “When you feel like you can hit, you can. When you don’t feel it, you won’t. But I’m pleased with our effort.”
Megan Smith got the win for South, allowing three runs on seven hits. She struck out four and didn’t issue a walk. The only real trouble she got into was in the third inning, when Whitley (10-13, 2-2) scored all three of its runs on five hits.
“Megan pitched well,” Burns said. “In the third inning she was dragging up and not pushing through on her pitches. We’ve pitched well all season. Our defense is now catching up.”
South Laurel scored one in the first and two in the second for an early 3-0 lead. In the first, Amber Hyde singled in Destinee Fisher, who had reached base with a single. In the second, Chelsea Wemes led off the inning with a triple to left and scored when Smith hit a sacrifice fly. Hailey Burns, who finished the game 3-for-4 with three singles, smacked her first single to center. Mackenzie Powenski came in as a courtesy runner.
Whitley pitcher Ashley Lindsey then walked Casie Finley and Fisher to load the bases for Hyde, who singled in Powenski to make it 3-0. The Lady Cards would leave the bases loaded when Cassandra Johnson popped out to second to end the inning.
Smith had been cruising along through the first two innings, retiring all six batters that she faced. It was in the third that Whitley County came back to tie the game, 3-3.
Brooke Hollingsworth led off with a single to center and advanced to second on a wild pitch. After Brandie Peace struck out, Emily Elliott singled to center, putting runners on the corners for Lindsey, who helped her own cause with a double to left-center that scored Hollingsworth.
The next batter, Stephanie Huffman, laid down a bunt that Wemes fielded at third, but her throw to first was late and another run scored. The final run came when Alexa Chaffman singled in Lindsey, tying the game, 3-3.
South got one of those runs back in the bottom of the inning as Wemes walked with one out. After Smith fouled out to the catcher, Hailey Burns and Laura Williams hit back-to-back singles and Wemes scored to make it 4-3.
Sabrina Sizemore led off the fourth for Whitley with a single to center, but Smith retired the next three batters. She retired the side in the fifth as South hung on to its one run lead.
That is, until the bottom of the fifth, when the Lady Cards scored two runs on three hits and one Whitley County error. The Lady Colonels committed four errors in the loss.
Wemes reached on an error to lead off the inning when her pop up was dropped by Lindsey. Smith followed that with a single to left, and Brittany Vandeventer came in to run for Smith.
Hailey Burns beat out a slow roller to second to load the bases for Williams, who singled to right to score Wemes and Vandeventer for the 6-3 lead.
“Hailey and Laura both had big games for us,” Burns said.
Whitley’s Jadon Dopel led off the sixth with a single to center, but that would be all for the Lady Colonels, as Smith retired the final six batters to secure the 6-3 win.
Now the Lady Cardinals are looking to Tuesday when they will host Williamsburg in a key 50th District game.
“If we beat Williamsburg we will have the top seed, in the district tournament,” Burns said.