COLUMBIA — It wasn’t the ending South Laurel 9-10 year-old All Star coach Brent Jackson wanted, but after seeing his team drop a 12-0 decision to Boyd County in Wednesday's state championship game, he told his players to hold their head high and be proud of their state runner-up finish.
South Laurel ran out of steam against Boyd County after losing the pitching services of Kenzie Williams when Jackson and his coaching staff made a decision to keep her in during the seventh inning of Tuesday’s win over Russell County.
With Williams having to get a day’s rest in before pitching another game, Jackson knew the odds were stacked against his team.
“It’s a great feeling just to get here, and to be able to accomplish what we did,” he said “Last night’s (Tuesday) game was a battle, and we made a conscious decision to get to the championship game (by keeping Kenzie Williams in to pitch). That put us in a bit of a situation in this game of course, but Boyd County is a great team. It’s just a part of softball.
“They have a great pitcher and a great team, and I think we have as equal of a great team,” Jackson added. “The cards just didn’t fall the right way, but that’s just a part of it. The girls are going learn from it, and they’re going to be together for a long time.”
Boyd County took control of the game with a five-run first inning while putting South Laurel away with another five-run inning during the second.
Jackson’s squad managed only one hit (Morgan Jackson) during the game.
Despite the loss, Jackson was pleased with how his team’s success during the past two weeks.
“The girls are playing on the field, but there is so much more going in to it,” he said. “This is the best group of parents that I’ve ever been associated with. There was no negativity, and none of the decisions that Glenn (Williams), and I made were questioned for one second. That is a huge part of the success — everyone bought in.
“The board at South Laurel has been great, too, and they’ve helped us to build up to this the last two or three years,” Jackson added. “I can’t say thank you enough to those people as well.”
Jackson reflected on his team’s play during the District 4 Tournament, and the state tournament, and said the future is bright for not only his group of players, but for many teams locally.
“ I just want to say this, I told Clay County after we played them (last week), they’re going to be some state titles out of the 13th Region in the future,” he said. “Once all of the battles are done, whoever comes out of that the next four to five years, I really feel like we could get multiple state titles because somebody out of the 13th Region will be that good.”
South Laurel 2, Russell County 1, 7 innings
The South Laurel 9-10 year-old All-Stars hooked up in their second extra inning affair in three days during the 9-10 year-old Softball State Tournament on Tuesday, but this time around, they were able to come out on top.
After seeing Russell County tie the game at one apiece in the bottom of the fifth, South Laurel finally broke the ice in the top of the eighth inning by scoring a run which led to Brent Jackson’s squad pulling off a 2-1 win.
“It was a great win,” Jackson said. “The theme of this win was heart man, no other way to put it. The bottom of the seventh inning was a win or go home situation, and the girls stepped up in a crucial time. Then we were able to score and get the win.”
Kenzie Williams kept Russell County’s bats at bay throughout Tuesday’s contest, surrendering only three hits while striking out 18 batters.
South Laurel got on the scoreboard in the first inning after seeing Piper Jackson lead off with a walk and eventually score on a hit by Morgan Jackson.
It looked as if one run would be all Williams needed as she struck out batter after batter, but she ran into some trouble during the fifth inning.
A hit batter led to Russell County tying the game at one apiece.
The game remained tied at one apiece until Bailey Kilburn’s run-scoring single scored Piper Jackson to give South Laurel a 2-1 lead in the top of the eighth inning.
Williams then put the game away by striking out the side in the bottom of the eighth to wrap-up the win for South Laurel.
Morgan Jackson led South Laurel with two hits and one RBI while Piper Jackson finished with a hit and two runs scored. Kilburn had a hit and one RBI while Lexie Martin and Sadie Lewis each delivered a hit apiece.