By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
North Laurel coasted to a 9-3 win over Lincoln County Tuesday to bounce back from a 5-0 loss to East Jessamine over the weekend. North Laurel coach Becky Osborne will take the win, but there are still a few wrinkles to iron out in the final week of the regular season.
“We left too many runners on base, too many runners in scoring position that we didn’t get in,” Osborne said.
Inconsistent hitting is one issue the Lady Jaguars don’t want to take into the post season. Although they scored nine runs against Lincoln County, they also left nine runners on base. And the seven runs came with the help of seven Lincoln County errors.
“I just wanted them to go up there and relax and swing the bat. They need to quit worrying so much,” Osborne said.
That’s why Osborne called the game a little differently than she would most games. It may have also led to the high numbers of runners stranded.
“I didn’t call any bunts tonight. It was kind of a free swing night. I just wanted them to get some good cuts in. We need swings,” Osborne said.
The swings looked good early, beginning with a leadoff double from Sidney Herrell. McKenzie Mills followed with an infield single. Herrell scored on a single to right field by Kailin Yantz that the centerfielder tried to run down. Two runs scored when Megan Baldwin reached on an error. The inning would end unexpectedly when the umpires ruled a North Laurel runner’s accidental contact with a fielder denied the Lady Patriots a chance for a double play. Both runners were called out and the inning ended.
North Laurel left two runners stranded in the second inning and the bases loaded in the third. The fourth inning would be the only time North Laurel went down in order.
Yantz led off the fifth inning with a double just inside the right field line. A grounder by Vanessa Smith went between the shortstop’s legs to allow Yantz to score. Baldwin also reached on an error, but both runners were stranded.
North Laurel almost ended the game early with five runs in the sixth inning. The five runs came on just two hits with two errors, a walk, and a hit batter aiding the cause. The game-ending run was on third with one out. Two strikeouts ended the threat and forced a seventh inning.
Lincoln County took advantage of the extra at bat by scoring its three runs on three hits and was also aided by a pair of errors. Megan Baldwin allowed seven hits on the night with seven strikeouts.
With only three games remaining in the regular season, Osborne thinks her team might already be looking ahead.
“I think they are ready for post season play. I think we all are,” Osborne said.
The Lady Jaguars were scheduled to travel to Tates Creek Wednesday and host Somerset Thursday. The regular season wraps up Friday with games against Shelby County and Franklin County on the road.
“We need to get some wins for confidence and we have got to start hitting the ball consistently. We have to have every player producing RBIs,” Osborne said.