So, over the weekend I was able to attend the Kentucky High School Softball State Tournament for the first time, and it was quite the experience.
The tournament itself was about as exciting as any tournament I've been to. 12th Region champion Boyle County was making their first ever appearance and finished 3rd.
Lone Oak, out of Region 1, won three consecutive games in walk-off fashion, all while facing elimination in the Loser's Bracket, and ultimately finished Runner-Up to Mercy Academy.
And North Laurel, with only one senior on their roster, made a run to a 6th Place finish that was about as up and down emotionally as anything I've been a part of. The Lady Jaguars went 3-2 in the tournament, but both losses came in their opponents' last at-bat. In what was a fantastic pitching matchup in the Quarterfinals between North Laurel's Megan Baldwin and Ryle's Ali Crupper, the Lady Raiders won 1-0 in eight innings on a RBI single with two outs. Then, facing elimination, and with Baldwin getting some rest after pitching three games earlier in the day, Lone Oak out-slugged the Lady Jags 9-8.
Mikayla Vires was called to pitch for North Laurel, and gave a gutsy effort if I've ever seen one. The team showed tremendous resiliency late in this game. After the Lady Flash scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth to take a 5-3 lead, North Laurel rallied to score four runs with two outs to go up 8-5 only to see Lone Oak, down to their final out, score three runs to advance in the tournament in what would be the first of their three straight walk-off wins.
It was a great tournament! And people from the Mountains should be extremely proud of not only the North Laurel Lady Jaguars, but also the Johnson Central Lady Eagles and Estill County Lady Engineers. All three teams represnted our region with class, dignity, and tremendous sportsmanship.
Here are some of the better performances from several Mountain players at the 2012 Kentucky High School Softball State Tournament:
Johnson Central (0-2)
Logan Cline: 4-6, 2 Runs, RBI
Rebeckah Fairchild: 2-5, 3 RBI
Estill County (1-2)
Chelsea Honchell: 3-8, RBI
#10 North Laurel (3-2)
Emily Sears: 7-19, 2 Runs, 2 RBI
Sidney Herrell: 5-18, 4 Runs, 2 Doubles
Megan Baldwin: 3-1, 0.98 ERA, 28 2/3 Innings Pitched, 4 Earned Runs, 12 Strikeouts