Norris Helps Lead the Way For Lady Cats in District Tournament Win Over Grayson County
Edmonson Wins 6-5
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Edmonson County sophomore Julie Norris got the job done in both the pitcher's circle and at the plate as the Lady Cats rallied to eliminate Grayson County in the first round of the District 12 Tournament, 6-5.
It was the largest crowd seen in years at James "Woody" Woodcock Field at ECHS, as the Lady Cats are hosting this year's tourney, and fans got their money's worth.
Tuesday rain forced the games to be pushed back late, with the Lady Cat first pitch around 8:30PM. Volunteers and team members worked tirelessly to remove water from the field from about 4PM until game time. The girls struggled early with errors that Coach Alex Jane Massey said were uncharacteristic and were likely brought on by the disruption of the normal pregame routines, wet conditions, and hazy lights that played havoc with outfielders.
Two of the season-high eight Edmonson errors allowed the Lady Cougars to strike first, leading 2-0 after the top of the first inning. Senior catcher Annie Kiper led off with a single for the Lady Cats in the bottom of the first, and after a strikeout, senior shortstop Callie Webb blasted a two-run shot over the wall in center field to tie the game at 2 apiece.
Two more Lady Cat errors would allow Grayson base runners and a Lady Cougar 3-2 lead. Edmonson County had a couple more opportunities to score in the next innings but wasn't able to execute until the 5th.
After Edmonson's Addie Childress walked to start the bottom of the 5th, Kiper singled again and Childress advanced to third on an error. Childress tied the game 3-3 on Makayla Hogg's groundout to first and then it was Webb again who roped a shot into the gap for a run-scoring triple and a 4-3 lead. Pitcher Julie Norris then followed with a two-run bomb to right-center for a Lady Cat 6-3 lead.
Grayson County reached on another error from the outfield and advanced to second with one out in the 6th. The Lady Cougars then hit liner to center field where Lady Cat Alyssa Doyle made the catch and then made a hard throw back to second to double up the runner who was off base, for the third out.
The Lady Cats went quietly in the bottom of the 6th and then more drama unfolded in the bottom of the 7th as the Lady Cougars took their last at-bat.
Grayson County led off with a single and a sac bunt moved the runner to second. After a pop out Grayson scored on a double to cut the lead to 6-4. Another error allowed the next batter to reach after a botched fly ball and Grayson cut the deficit again to 6-5. The next batter singled to center to put runners on first and second with two out. Norris then battled Grayson County's Ellie Bratcher in an 8-pitch at-bat for a foul pop up that was caught by Makayla Hogg right on the Lady Cat dugout fence to seal the win.
Coach Massey credited her team for the gutsy win.
"This is my third season with them and they want it so bad, but I think they came out here real tight," she said. "They wanted it so bad that it took them a minute to relax. Softball is a game where you can't play the event, like the district tournament, you have to play the ball every time and I think we were playing with the mindset of it being the district tournament. I think our nerves got us but we had kids to step up. I mean, Julie Norris, man...she pitched a heckuva game."
She said despite the mounting pressure in the top of the 7th, Norris was able to get the job done.
"She's a pretty calm and collected kid and I feel like she doesn't get too upset about much, you know, but she really showed out for her team tonight. She did exactly what we wanted her to do on the mound--to give us opportunities to make outs, and that's what she did. If our defense hadn't have been so nervous, I think it would have been a way different score."
Norris gave up 7 hits over 7 innings, walked none and struck out three. Only one of the 5 runs was earned. She also went 1-2 at the plate, a two-run homerun, with 2 RBIs and a walk.
Kiper was 3-3 and Webb was 2-3 with a homerun and a triple, with 2 RBIs. There were no other hits in the game but they were enough. Bratcher went 6 innings for Grayson County, giving up 6 earned runs on 6 hits, she walked 3 and struck out 6.
Edmonson County improves to 16-9 on the season and will advance to the District 12 Championship game for the first time since 2016. Grayson ends their season with a record of 7-26.
The championship game is scheduled for Thursday at 6PM at ECHS. The game will be livestreamed on the Edmonson Voice YouTube Channel.
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