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State softball quarterfinals highlights: South Warren edges Lexington Catholic

Earlier this season, No. 1 South Warren and No. 3 Lexington Catholic met at Great Crossing Park in Georgetown for a six-inning game decided by a single run.

The Spartans took the loss that day thanks to a solo home run by the LexCath’s Abby Hammond.

On Saturday at the University of Kentucky’s John Cropp Stadium, South Warren returned the favor with a 1-0 win against the Knights on a much bigger stage — the state softball tournament quarterfinals.

But there was no booming homer to decide things this time. Each team had just three hits. South Warren made two of them add up to the game-winning margin.

South Warren celebrated defeating Lexington Catholic 1-0 during their quarterfinal game in the Clark’s Pump-N-Shop Softball State Tournament at John Cropp Stadium on Saturday.
South Warren celebrated defeating Lexington Catholic 1-0 during their quarterfinal game in the Clark’s Pump-N-Shop Softball State Tournament at John Cropp Stadium on Saturday.

Sophomore center fielder Hadley Borders’ fourth-inning smash through the left side of the infield scored Spartans teammate McLain Hudson from third base.

“I’m looking for that flat pitch and I’m picking a side of the plate I’m looking for. I knew it was there and I was going for it,” said Borders, who added that she said a small prayer with fellow sophomore Layla Ogden before stepping to the plate.

Hudson led off the fourth inning with South Warren’s first hit of the game against Hammond. She stole second moments later and advanced to third on an errant throw back to the infield on Kinleigh Russell’s flyout to left. That set up Borders’ moment.

“We had those key hits when we needed it, and were able to move base runners,” South Warren coach Kelly Reynolds said. “One run is all it takes to win a ballgame, especially a game like this.”

Lexington Catholic had chances to score early against South Warren starting pitcher Courtney Norwood, who had pitched against the Knights on April 27.

In the first inning, Aevea Mosley-Franklin and Lydia Kennedy each singled but were stranded at first and third. A leadoff single by Caitlyn Kelley in the second inning also went for naught.

LexCath’s success against Norwood prompted Reynolds to make a pitching change to Ogden a bit earlier than usual. Norwood and Ogden often split pitching duties to change things up for their opponents. Ogden walked three but didn’t allow another LexCath hit.

“I just thank my coaches for trusting me in that situation,” Ogden said. “It was definitely a hard situation. Courtney did amazing in the first half, and I just wanted to come in there and be hot and ready.”

Lexington Catholic’s last best chance to score came in the sixth inning as Ava Emmert, the two-home-run hero of Friday’s opening round, walked to lead off the sixth. She could get no further than second base.

“We didn’t get the hits when we needed them,” Lexington Catholic coach Emery Emmert said. “You’ve got to get the breaks at the right time.”

Lexington Catholic (27-3) reached the state tournament as 11th Region champions for the second time in three years. They finished state runner-up to No. 1 Ballard in 2022. Unfortunately, they ran into another No. 1 earlier in the tournament this year.

“Two of the best teams in the state dueled it out, and it was a one-run game. That’s what you’re going to get,” Emmert said. “I told them the outcome of this game didn’t define them. We had a rough spot in the middle of the season and everybody decided collectively to get better as a unit. And they went to work and got better.”

South Warren (39-3) is also making its second state tournament appearance in three years and is looking to improve on its semifinals finish in 2022.

“I told them this morning if we could get past today’s game, we’ve got another good shot,” Reynolds said. “Task 1 was done yesterday. Task 2 was done today. We’ve still got (two) to go.”

Lexington Catholic head coach Emery Emmert, left, speaks with his players in the circle during their quarterfinal game against South Warren in the Clark’s Pump-N-Shop Softball State Tournament at John Cropp Stadium on Saturday.
Lexington Catholic head coach Emery Emmert, left, speaks with his players in the circle during their quarterfinal game against South Warren in the Clark’s Pump-N-Shop Softball State Tournament at John Cropp Stadium on Saturday.

Saturday’s other quarterfinals

North Laurel 5, Boyd County 4: The Jaguars (29-9) staged a dramatic comeback with five runs in the top of the seventh inning to stun the Lions (23-18), who seemed like a lock for the state semifinals with just three outs to go.

Emma Carl started the rally with a leadoff double and was followed by a Bella Finley single and a walk to Morgan Edwards to load the bases for Katie Keen.

Keen smashed a double down the third-base line to cut the Jags’ deficit to 4-2 as Carl and Finley scored. That prompted the Lions to lift starter Elyn Simpkins for Lacyn Black in the circle.

North Laurel’s next two batters, Katie Sams and Saige McClure, were hit by pitches. Sams took first to reload the bases. McClure’s free pass pushed a run across to cut the Lions’ lead to 4-3.

Braylee Fawbush knocked in the tying run on a grounder to short as the throw to try to force out a runner at home was not in time. Ellie Adams then drew a bases-loaded walk to score Sams for a 5-4 North Laurel lead.

The Jags’ Carl gave up a one-out hit in the bottom of the seventh but closed out the victory with two groundouts on the infield.

Boyd scored one run each in the first, fourth, fifth and sixth innings to take a 4-0 lead. Jaycie Goad led the Lions with three hits, two runs scored and an RBI.

Henderson County 8, McCracken County 6: The Colonels (34-5) rallied with four runs in the top of the seventh inning to overtake the Mustangs (31-8) and return to the state semifinals for a second year in a row.

Henderson’s tying and go-ahead runs were aided by McCracken County errors as Maggie Grogan and Taylor Troutman each singled and scored, Alyse Rollings doubled and scored and Hallie McCracken drew one of three walks in the seventh and eventually scored to cap the comeback.

Hallie McCracken led Henderson by going 2-for-3 at the plate with three runs scored and three RBIs.

Anna Kemp allowed two runs in the second, three in the third and another in the sixth inning as McCracken County established a 6-4 lead, but she finished out the game despite her team giving up two errors to put two Mustangs on base with one out in the final frame.

Grace Henderson led McCracken with three RBIs, two of them coming in the three-run fourth inning. Karliegh Walker also knocked in two runs for the Mustangs.

Assumption 2, Daviess County 0: The Rockets (30-11) seized on Daviess County mistakes to notch runs in third and sixth innings while pitcher Lauren Satterly held the Panthers (29-7) to one hit in the shutout.

Paige Crain singled to lead off the third inning for Assumption. Courtesy Runner Ashley Jones advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Rylee Sandifer and took third on an Emma Kleis groundout. A passed ball allowed Jones to score for a 1-0 lead.

In the sixth inning, walks to Maleya Giddens and Tia Ice sandwiched an error that allowed Satterly to reach base safely. That loaded the bases for Lauren Campisano. Her grounder got knocked down by Daviess County’s third baseman, no play could be made and Giddens scored.

SOFTBALL STATE TOURNAMENT

At UK’s John Cropp Stadium

Tickets: gofan.co/app/school/KHSAA

Streaming video ($): KHSAA.tv

Streaming audio (free): khsaa2.mixlr.com/events

FRIDAY, JUNE 14, SEMIFINALS

3:30 p.m.: Assumption (30-11) vs. North Laurel (29-9)

6:30 p.m.: Henderson County (34-5) vs. South Warren (39-3)

SATURDAY, JUNE 15, FINALS

7 p.m.: Championship game