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16th Region softball final: Boyd busts down door to first fastpitch title

ASHLAND Wednesday night’s game between Boyd County and Ashland looked for a while like a game of “anything you can do I can do better.”

That back and forth continued until the Lions broke through in the sixth inning and created some game-changing separation.

Boyd County defeated Ashland, 11-5, to take the program’s first 16th Region crown since the 1995 inception of KHSAA fastpitch softball. The Lions won a slow pitch championship in 1993.

“This has been a long time coming,” Boyd County coach Lance Seasor said. “Things have been heading in the right direction for a while. Guys like Geoff Stewart and Dave Wheeler put a lot of work into this program to help get us here.”

For Ashland, the region tournament showcased the team’s abilities in ways that hadn’t been seen throughout the regular season, getting big wins over East Carter and Bath County 17-3 and 16-8 respectively.

“This would’ve been the cherry on top,” Ashland coach Scott Ingram said of a region crown. “Boyd County played great. (Elyn) Simpkins pitched a really good ball game. But this doesn’t take anything away from how great this season has been. They’ve been the epitome of a team. I’ve never had a group, 1 through 18, who’s done so much for each other.”

Boyd County got runners to second and third to kick off the first inning, thanks to a single from Jadyn Goad and a hit-by-pitch to Savanna Henderson.

The Kittens’ defense held up to the pressure, however, and stranded those runners there without any damage.

Ashland wasn’t so lucky in the second.

Kyli Kouns led off the top of the second with a solo home run straight over the center-field fence to draw first blood.

“It feels good to finally win,” Kouns said. “I always want to do what helps my team win, not about me as an individual but the team.”

Kouns has played most of her career at Boyd County as the catcher, but recently made a switch to centerfield, where she brings the same energy to her team.

“My thing is to talk to our pitcher, keep her calm and talk to the rest of the defense and make sure they're not going to snowball with mistakes.”

The Lions followed that up with a stand-up double from Lacyn Black, who blasted a ball to the left-field fence.

The Kittens’ gloves regrouped from there and stranded Black’s pinch runner, Delaney Slone, on third.

Boyd County doubled its lead in the top of the third to 2-0 when Myla Hamilton drove in Henderson with an RBI single.

Ashland, meanwhile, was stifled offensively through the first two frames but found an answer for the Lions in the bottom of the third.

Jenna Delaney launched a ball over the center-field fence for a two-run homer that evened matters up 2-2.

After a quiet fourth inning, where Simpkins picked up a couple more strikeouts, Kouns got things rolling again offensively in the fifth.

After Jadyn Goad smashed a double in the leadoff spot, Henderson and Jaycie Goad reached on walks — the latter an intentional walk.

That’s when Kouns stepped up and sent a ball into center field for a two-run single.

Ashland responded in kind when Brookelyn Duckwyler lifted a stand-up double into deep left field that plated a pair of runs.

“It's been there all year,” Ingram said of his team’s talent. “Unfortunately we came up short tonight, but we broke through this week. That's what we've been looking for.”

The Lions found another level in the top of the sixth.

“We’re really strong through our lineup, top to bottom,” Seasor said. “We've even got girls that we can bring in that can swing it. We've got so many different weapons that we can use and I knew eventually, if we just kept at it and kept in the right frame of mind, that we would eventually break through and we finally did.”

Simpkins started it off getting hit by a pitch, followed by with a Jadyn Goad hit and a walk from Henderson.

Jaycie Goad then batted in her sister with a sacrifice fly to right field.

Hamilton drove in the next run with a single, which was immediately followed by a single from Kouns that reloaded the bases.

Grace Stephens drove in a run on a fielder’s choice and then Ashland walked Black to bring in the fourth and final run of the frame.

Addi Layne came in for Riley Harmon to pitch for the Kittens after that fourth run.

Boyd County brought 10 batters to the plate in the frame to go up 8-4.

The Lions added to their lead in the top of the seventh with a two-run home run off the bat of Henderson and a sacrifice fly from Grace Stephens.

The Kittens tried to respond in the seventh when Aubrey Foster drove home Layne with an RBI double, but that’s all the team could muster.

“Boyd had that big sixth inning, but we had a shot,” Ingram said. “We really had a shot there to make it more interesting, but Simpkins pitched it really well. She had a good tournament. I just hope we continue what we’re doing and take it into next year and take another crack at it.”

“It feels great going out and making history,” Jaycee Goad said. “That’s not something a lot of people get to do. I’m just proud of us going out there and putting a complete game together.”

“And getting to do it with my sister makes it even better,” Jadyn Goad added. “Now we want to go to Lexington and win.”

Seasor hopes that this win will be something his team carries with them far beyond their playing days.

“I'm just really proud of the girls, they accomplished a lot tonight,” Seasor said. “One day it'll sink in. I'm sure it'll be no time in the next five or ten years for them, but one day they'll realize that they're part of something that hasn't been done here before.”

BOYD CO. 011 024 3 — 11 10 1

ASHLAND 002 020 1 — 5 7 1

Simpkins and Henderson; Harmon, Layne (6) and Foster. W — Simpkins. L — Harmon. 2B — Black (BC), Jad. Goad (BC), Duckwyler (A), Foster (A). HR — Kouns (BC), J. Delaney (A).

16th Region All-Tournament Team

Skyler Lawrence (Greenup County)

Lauryn Eastham (Rowan County)

Dayna Whiddon-Bennett (Elliott County)

Laken Knipp (East Carter)

Ashlee Rogers (Bath County)

Ashtyn Barrett (Bath County)

Baylee Burney (Raceland)

Kali Vance (Raceland)

Grace Delaney (Ashland)

Jenna Delaney (Ashland)

Brookelyn Duckwyler (Ashland)

Jadyn Goad (Boyd County)

Elyn Simpkins (Boyd County)

Myla Hamilton (Boyd County)

Jaycie Goad (Boyd County) (Most Outstanding Player)

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