State softball tournament highlights: Lexington Catholic’s future Cats power 1st-round rout

Lexington Catholic’s Ava Emmert and Abby Hammond plan to continue their softball careers at the University of Kentucky when their high school days are done.

They both made themselves right at home at UK’s John Cropp Stadium on Friday in the Knights’ 15-1 win against Montgomery County in the first round of the state softball tournament.

Emmert, a senior third baseman, hit two three-run home runs against the Indians, the first a towering fly ball to left field that appeared three-quarters up the foul pole as it went by. That blast was part of LexCath’s four-run first inning.

Lexington Catholic’s Ava Emmert, left, and Abby Hammond (4), jumped to celebrate Emmert’s second three-run home run of the game in the third inning of their state tournament game against Montgomery County.
Lexington Catholic’s Ava Emmert, left, and Abby Hammond (4), jumped to celebrate Emmert’s second three-run home run of the game in the third inning of their state tournament game against Montgomery County.

Then, in the top of the third inning, Emmert struck again, this time a shot to center that caromed above the KHSAA sign on the center-field camera structure to help put LexCath up 10-0.

Emmert struggled at the plate early in the season before building her average up to .337 with a team second-best 41 RBI. She felt confident at the plate Friday.

“We talked about living in the now, so I really thought about just being present and being confident and calm at the plate,” Emmert said. “I felt really locked in today.”

Hammond, a junior pitcher who earned the second Kentucky Gatorade Player of Year Award of her career earlier Friday, was on base for both of Emmert homers and later added a three-run double for herself in the fourth inning as the Knights went up 13-0.

In the circle, Hammond shut down a Montgomery County offense that ranked No. 1 in runs, home runs and RBI. She allowed one run on two hits and two walks while striking out 10, including the last batter of the fifth inning of the mercy-rule shortened game.

“I had confidence in my teammates and I knew we were going to put up runs because we’ve worked so hard on hitting and we were prepared,” Hammond said. “And I just had confidence in my defense.”

Reaghan Oney, who hit her 24th home run in the 10th Region title game last week to set the new KHSAA single-season record, broke up Hammond’s no-hitter and shutout with an RBI double in the bottom of the fourth inning after Lilliana Hill drew a walk ahead of her.

Lexington Catholic’s offense heaped pressure on Montgomery County all game. Seventh-grader Aevea Mosley-Franklin had three hits, three RBI and two runs scored. Senior Kinley Willoughby had a two-run double among her three hits. Lydia Kennedy, Caitlyn Kelley and Payton Coomer also got hits and contributed to the scoring effort.

Hammond’s first Kentucky Gatorade Player of the Year Award came in 2022 when the Knights won the 11th Region title and made their way to the state championship game, losing a heartbreaker to Ballard 3-2. With the second award in hand, she’s hoping for a different outcome for the team this year.

“It’s really exciting, but I’m in the same situation I was two years ago,” Hammond said. “We have bigger things to accomplish out here. But I wouldn’t have been able to (win the player of the year) without my family, coaches, teammates — everyone that’s been putting in work with me over the years.”

In Saturday’s 5:30 p.m. quarterfinals matchup, Lexington Catholic (27-2) faces South Warren, a team ranked No. 1 in the KHSAA’s RPI to the Knights’ No. 3 rating. LexCath defeated the Spartans 1-0 on April 27 at a neutral site. Hammond hit a solo homer in that game to win it.

“We know it’s going to be a tight game,” Hammond said. “They’re a very good team top to bottom and they have great pitching and are well coached. We’re going to prepare like we always do — have a good batting practice tomorrow and come out with some confidence.”

Friday’s other games

South Warren 11, Elizabethtown 2: McLaine Hudson and Layla Ogden each hit two-run home runs and Courtney Norwood added a solo shot as the Spartans (38-3) routed the Panthers (28-8).

Hudson led off the game with a triple among her three hits as South Warren took a 2-0 lead after one inning and went up 5-0 in the top of the third after the homers by Ogden and Norwood.

Though Elizabethtown cut their deficit to 5-2 in the bottom of the third on Taytum Spiers’ two-run double, the Panthers could not keep pace.

Hudson’s homer sparked a four-run fourth inning to break the game open. Hayden Holloway got an RBI infield single and a passed ball scored another run. Kinleigh Russell got her second RBI on a single in the fifth. Hadley Borders tacked on an RBI single in the seventh.

Ogden pitched four innings for the win and gave way to Norwood to close out the game. They each struck out eight.

Henderson County 5, Anderson County 4: Taylor Troutman lifted a 1-2 pitch over the fence in left-center field as Henderson County’s leadoff hitter in the seventh inning to give the Colonels (33-5) a walk-off win against the Bearcats (26-12).

Moments earlier, Anderson County tied the game in the top of the seventh when Faith McGregor bunted home Lacey Osborne, but the Bearcats’ attempt to take the lead on the same play was thwarted in a rundown to end the inning.

Henderson took a 3-0 lead into the fifth inning on an RBI single by Anna Kemp in the first, and RBI singles by Mackenzie Burczyk in the second and fourth innings.

Anderson responded with three runs in the top of the fifth to log the first tie thanks to a two-out rally fueled by two of Henderson’s four errors and a wild pitch. Myleigh Beasley, Ella Baum and Aryonna Clark all scored on errors.

McCracken County 11, Lawrence County 8: The Mustangs (31-7) scored four runs in the top of the seventh inning to break a 7-7 tie and pull away from the Bulldogs (30-5).

McKenzie O’Brien led off the seventh with a walk, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and took third on a wild pitch. She scored by beating the throw home on Macy Butler’s grounder to second to give McCracken an 8-7 lead.

Ellie Shoulders followed with an RBI triple to center. Shoulders then scored for a 10-7 lead on Cami Cox’s squeeze bunt to first. A fielding error put another runner on for Addley Leidecker’s RBI single moments later to complete the rally.

In the final two innings of the game, McCracken scored nine runs on nine hits. Abby Nelson led the Bulldogs with three hits, including a two-run homer in the bottom of the fourth inning that briefly gave Lawrence County a 4-1 lead.

McCracken took a 7-4 lead in the top of the sixth when Grace Henderson and O’Brien led off the inning with back-to-back hits. One of those five runs in the fourth came on an error, another came via wild pitch and another via a bases-loaded walk. Lilly Hamilton capped the rally with a two-run single.


At UK’s John Cropp Stadium.


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10 a.m.: Daviess County (29-6) vs. Assumption (29-11)

1 p.m.: Boyd County (23-17) vs. North Laurel (28-9)

5:30 p.m.: Lexington Catholic (27-2) vs. South Warren (38-3)

8:30 p.m.: McCracken County (31-7) vs. Henderson County (33-5)


3:30 p.m.: Daviess County-Assumption winner vs. Boyd County North Laurel winner

6:30 p.m.: McCracken County-Henderson County winner vs. Lexington Catholic-South Warren winner


7 p.m.: Championship game

State baseball tournament highlights: McCracken County ‘caught a break’ vs. West Jessamine