By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Turns out North Oldham still had an ace to play in the loser’s bracket final of the 9-10 State Tournament. Madison Eads held North Laurel to one run to advance to the title game with a 7-1 win.
“That’s probably the best pitcher, throws harder than any pitcher we have faced since we’ve been playing,” North Laurel coach Jon Sizemore said.
Despite the 10 strikeouts, North Laurel was able to put the ball in play often. They would out hit North Oldham 9-6.
“We get base hits, but we get no hits with runners on base,” Sizemore said. “I would say we’ve out hit both games the other team, but everything we hit was with nobody on base.”
Eads did not walk a batter, while North Laurel issued six walks. For the second straight game, North Laurel also found themselves in an early hole after spotting North Oldham a 4-0 lead.
“Slow starts have killed us,” Sizemore said. “That’s hard to dig out of in a state tournament. You’re playing good teams. It’s just hard to come back.”
North Oldham’s four runs came on just one hit. Much of the damage was caused by three walks and two hit batters. After two innings, North Laurel’s four hits were twice as many as their opponent, but they were not able to drive in a run. By the third inning, North Laurel had seven hits and finally pushed a run home.
Maddie Dagley and Daria Casey singled with one out. North Oldham almost got out of the inning when a hard shot by Taylor Jones was snagged for the second out. Kambrie Collier delivered the RBI single, although a diving stop by shortstop Josie Powell probably saved another run from scoring.
North Oldham scored two more runs in the fourth inning and another in the fifth. Although the score started to look one-sided, the North Laurel bats continued to provide hits, but not run.Jones double and Collier singled in the fifth with both stranded. Another runner stranded in the sixth inning would be the ninth of the game.
“I thought we still had a good chance coming out of the loser’s bracket. We competed in every ballgame,” Sizemore said.
North Oldham will face South Hardin in the championship game. The same two teams met in the first round with South Hardin winning in extra innings.