LEXINGTON — Doug Gregory’s North Laurel Lady Jaguars will be making a state record 18th appearance at the KHSAA Fastpitch State Tournament when they take the field Friday against 11th Region champion Lafayette.
North Laurel (18-13) will be attempting to capture the program’s second state championship, a feat they accomplished in 2001.
But it isn’t going to be easy.
The Lady Generals are solid at the plate and in the pitcher’s circle. Lafayette has beaten some of the best teams in the state while Gregory has prepared his team for the challenge by playing one of the toughest slates in the state.
“We’re going to be ready,” he said. “We’ve played a schedule that has really prepared us. Winning the region was huge, and we have high expectations here at North Laurel. We know Lafayette is a good team, and we have work to do. They’re something we are going to work on to be ready for their pitching and what they can do at the plate.”
Lafayette (30-8) captured the 11th Region title by outlasting Lexington Catholic this past week with a 2-0 win.
The Lady Generals are known for their power at the plate. They’re averaging 7.5 runs per game while hitting 47 home runs on the season. Their team batting average is .328.
Leah Holland leads Lafayette with 11 home runs, 47 RBI, 46 hits, and a .400 batting average. Rylie Grantz leads the team with a .467 batting average while connecting with six homers and 49 hits. She also has 26 RBI. Natalie Henry leads the Lady Generals with 52 hits. She is batting .426 with seven home runs and 27 RBI.
Madison Johnson has turned in a .381 batting average along with 43 hits, four homers, and 37 RBI. Kailiegh Franklin Brooks has turned in a .289 batting average with six home runs, 24 RBI, and 26 hits.
What makes Lafayette even more dangerous is the damage the Lady Generals can do on the base paths. They have stolen 94 bases this season with five players totaling at least 10 stolen bases. Speedster Isabelle Rochemont leads the team with 15 stolen bases and has only been thrown out one time this season.
And even though the Lady Generals are solid at the plate, they’re even better in the pitcher’s circle.
Both Trinity Bridges and Holland have won 13 games apiece. Bridges have a team-best 1.10 ERA while striking out 195 batters in 121 innings.
Holland’s ERA is 1.61. She has struck out 119 batters in 87 innings.
“Their pitchers are extremely good and Lafayette also has a really good hitting team,” Gregory said. “We’ve got to get prepared for them because they are good. We can compete with anyone up there. It should be a good tournament.”
North Laurel will be primed and ready.
Junior Emily Sizemore and senior Maddie Dagley lead the way for the Lady Jaguars.
Sizemore garners a team-best 11 home runs, 37 RBI, 46 hits, and a .500 batting average while Dagley has six homers on the season. She is batting .434 with 24 RBI and 36 hits. Dagley has also compiled a 13-8 mark in the pitcher’s circle along with a 2.17 ERA. She’s struck out 148 batters in 139 innings.
“Maddie has been really laser-focused,” Gregory said. “She’s done a fantastic job for us and has really battled. We’re a hitting team and if we are going to make a run, we’ve got to hit the ball.”
North Laurel also possesses even more offensive talent with players such as Bailee Root, Hallie Proffitt, Rick Collett, Saige McClure, Bella Sizemore, Braylee Fawbush, and Ellie Adams.
Root is batting .351 with three home runs, 19 RBI, and 33 hits while Proffitt is batting .293 with 15 RBI and 27 hits. Collett, who has turned in a stellar effort defensively this season at second base, is batting .342 with one home run, 24 RBI, and 27 hits. McClure came on strong during the region tournament and is batting .361 with 21 RBI and 31 hits. Bella Sizemore has a .306 batting average along with 16 RBI and 26 hits while Fawbush is batting .274 with a home run, 13 RBI, and 26 hits. Adams is another Lady Jaguar that has come on strong during regional tourney play.
“I believe we can make a good run,” Gregory said. “I think we are an Elite Eight team or even a Final Four team. If we can win this game, we can make a really deep run.”