By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
MIDDLESBORO—If the first game is any indication, scoring won’t be an issue for the Lady Cardinals. South Laurel stroked 16 hits and scored in every inning in an 18-0 win over Middlesboro Tuesday.
“We hit the ball really well in our two scrimmage games. We’re just hitting good hard line shots,” South Laurel coach James Burns said.
Burns also didn’t see this as a case of simply overmatching Middlesboro. Pitcher Jessica Carter threw hard and threw strikes.
“She was a pretty good pitcher. Right now we’re just hitting it,” Burns said. “Let’s just hope it lasts.”
Although the first inning produced only a single run, there were indications that the Lady Cardinals would have a productive night. Cassandra Johnson led off the game with a single, but a bad bunt would turn into a double play.
Amber Hyde got South Laurel on the board with an inside-the-park home run, followed by a Hagan Burns’ double. A walk and error loaded the bases, but the runners would be stranded.
“That first inning didn’t look too good. We popped up a bunt and left bases loaded,” Burns said.
Madyson Morris walked to lead off the second inning and scored on a grounder by Chelsea Wemes. Middlesboro avoided any further damage with shortstop Carissa Padgett making a good play to end the inning.
“We’ve been practicing well and playing pretty well. It’s a good start against a pretty good team. I think this is one of the better teams in the region,” Burns said.
The Lady Cardinals began to pull away with seven runs on six hits in the third inning. Johnson, Wemes, and Burns all had RBI singles in the inning. Amber Hyde drove in a run with a hard double to right center. Hyde finished the night by hitting for the cycle and driving in five runs.
“Amber Hyde wore it out. She hit it hard every time up,” Burns said. “We hit the ball pretty hard all the way through.”
Middlesboro’s first hit was a solid single by Savanna Miracle to lead off the third inning. They would add a second hit in the fourth inning, but neither runner got past first base. Burns struck out five batters in five innings.
“A cold night, you can’t grip the ball. It’s hard to throw any kind of junk. She battled. She threw hard,” Burns said. “If you can’t grip it, you can’t spin it.”
South Laurel made sure its night ended early with four more runs in the fourth inning and five in the fifth. Johnson stroked a two-run triple in the fourth inning and Hyde doubled. The big shot in the fifth inning was a two-run single by Hyde.
“We hit it hard. We hit hard shots all night,” Burns said.
The Lady Cardinals were scheduled to play at Williamsburg Wednesday and host Rockcastle County Thursday. South Laurel is at home tonight against McCreary County.