Lady Panthers win regional title

HARTFORD — Annie Newman drove in two runs, and Kamryn Timmons recorded 12 strikeouts in her second straight shutout as Daviess County upended Hancock County 5-0 in the 3rd Region Softball Tournament championship game in front of a packed crowd Friday night at Ohio County High School.

The win cemented the fifth consecutive regional title for the Lady Panthers (28-6), who will play 12th District champion Mercer County (18-9) in the KHSAA state tournament next week.

“This never gets old,” DCHS head coach John Biggs said afterward as players, parents and fans celebrated on the field. “That group of girls, when we started in February, they knew what the expectations were. I thought we did a nice job of developing the team and molding it. Each year, it’s a little bit different, so we have to play to its strengths. As the year progressed, I thought our pitching staff started coming together. I was getting in tune with how to call their pitches, and they were getting in tune with what we wanted done in the circle, so it all kind of comes together.

“We’ve been putting up some runs throughout the regular season, but when you get in the postseason and face quality pitchers, you’ll have to do things a little bit differently to manufacture some runs. One thing that we knew would be a constant was our defense. We put a ton of work in on our defense, and at some point, I knew someone was going to barrel some balls up and we were going to hit some balls hard — that was our philosophy coming in.”

DC got runners on base in each of the first two innings but didn’t break through on the scoreboard until the top of the third. Kyle Clark reached safely on an infield error, Shelby Bennett singled on a grounder to left field, and Newman clubbed an RBI base hit to put her team up 1-0.

The Lady Panthers got some breathing room with another run in the fifth. Sadie Morris led off with a base hit, stole second and moved to third base on Bennett’s sacrifice bunt before scoring on Newman’s sacrifice fly to center field.

DC plated two more in the sixth to secure a four-run lead. Molly Hancock drew a full-count leadoff walk, Danielle Beckwith singled, and Briley Henry hit an RBI ground out. Two batters later, Beckwith scored on a fielding error.

“It’s one of those reoccurring things,” Biggs noted. “The second time through, the third time through the lineup when we see a pitcher, I think we’re going to start to really be able to put the ball in play. ... We were sitting there on just one run for a while. When you get that second run in, things are going to change a little bit. When we get a couple more, it kind of relaxes you a little bit to where not every play could be a game-turning play.”

Daviess County notched its final run in the top of the second after Smith belted a two-out triple and courtesy runner Avery Morris scored on a wild pitch.

Meanwhile, Timmons limited the Lady Hornets (29-10) to only two hits without a walk in the complete-game win. Her performance came less than 24 hours after recording 18 strikeouts over nine innings in DC’s 1-0 semifinal win over Meade County.

“She’s a great kid and a great talent,” Biggs said of the freshman. “Her ceiling is really high. We felt like her in the circle tonight was going to be the best matchup for us against Hancock. The only thing is our pitchers really haven’t gone back-to-back [games], and she threw 143 pitches last night. ... She may not be as sharp as she was last night, but I thought she was very efficient in getting ahead in the count and getting hitters to chase.”

Layni Roberts finished with a double for the Lady Hornets.

DAVIESS COUNTY 001 012 1 — 5 6 0

HANCOCK COUNTY 000 000 0 — 0 2 2

WP-Timmons. LP-Li. Roberts. 2B-La. Roberts (HC). 3B-Smith (DC).