First Lady Cat Region Win Since 2013
Darren Doyle, story and photos:
Softball fans got their money's worth yesterday during the grueling 12-inning marathon between Edmonson County and Muhlenberg County in the first round of the Region 3 Tournament held at Grayson County High School. What was nearly two complete softball games ended up being the first region tournament win for the Lady Cats since the region runner-up team from 2013. This year's team is only the second one in school history for fast pitch to advance in a regional tournament.
In addition, sophomore Lady Cat pitcher Julie Norris endured the entire 12-inning contest from the pitcher's circle, throwing an incredible 181 pitches over the course 48 batters faced.
The Lady Cats scored their first run in the top of the third after a single by senior Annie Kiper, another single by Kaylee Ann Sanders, a sac fly from senior Callie Webb that moved both runners over, then a walk by Norris. Jolee Vincent was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded as the Lady Cats took a 1-0 lead.
Edmonson held the lead until the bottom of the 6th when the Lady Mustangs reached on a single and then two consecutive hit-by-pitches. Another single allowed Muhlenberg to tie the score at 1-1. Edmonson held them in the bottom of the 7th to force extra innings.
After a ground out to start the top of the 9th, Edmonson County's Kiper singled, followed by a walk for Sanders. Callie Webb then singled on a line drive to right, scoring Kiper and moving Sanders to third. Sanders then stole home on a passed ball and another error by the pitcher allowed Webb to score for a 4-1 lead.
The lead was short lived as the Lady Mustangs answered with a double, single, then a two-run triple with no outs to cut the lead to 4-3. A sac fly then tied things up again for Muhlenberg County. After another single, Norris was able to get out of the inning with a strikeout.
Both the 10th and 11th innings were non-eventful for both teams. Then, with two outs in the top of the 12th, senior Alyssa Doyle singled on a liner to left field. With Doyle battling illness for the last couple days, Emma Davis entered the game as a courtesy runner on first. Brooklynn Wilson then drove a ball to deep center, which was dropped by the center fielder. The error allowed Wilson to advance to second and Davis scored the go-ahead run to make it 5-4.
The drama continued in the bottom of the 12th as the Lady Mustangs started the inning with a single from Joshlynn Noe. She then stole second to put the tying run in scoring position. A sac bunt from Jaycee Phillips moved her over to third with one out.
Pitcher Josie Davis then bunted in front of the plate. Catcher Annie Kiper fielded the ball, threw to first to get the batter out while Noe attempted to take home from third. First baseman Makayla Hogg threw a perfect throw back to Kiper, who blocked the plate and tagged the runner out in dramatic fashion for a double play to end the game.
After the celebration, Head Coach Alex Jane Massey discussed how her team made it through the two-and-a-half hour challenge.
"That was a team effort," she said. "One-through-nine, everybody on the field at sometime had to make a play, had to get on base, or had to do something. I never looked out there and thought those kids were going to lose, and they never thought they were going to lose. When you constantly play behind each other like that, you're able to make a big play like that at the end. That was no easy play by any means, but they knew what was going on and we came out on top."
The Lady Cats don't have a surplus of pitching. In fact, only a couple of other pitchers have been used all season and in very short spans. Julie Norris has been a workhorse for Edmonson County all year. She is currently ranked in the top 50 in the state in two categories: #28 in wins with 16, and in the top 20 in innings pitched with 170.
"Julie was so focused today and she wanted it," said Massey. "Every pitch she had today was working. She was not going to come off that mound with a loss. I know you've called her 'a mule,' before, but she is. And today she definitely pulled the wagon."
Kiper was 3-6, Callie Webb went 2-5 with an RBI, Doyle was 2-6, Sanders was 1-4, Vincent was 1-5 with an RBI, and Wilson was 1-5.
Norris went a full 12 innings, gave up 13 hits, earned 4 runs, walked one, and struck out 6.
Yesterday's win for the Lady Cats was the longest game in Region 3 Tournament play since 2005. The last region win in 2013 was coached by Kevin Clemmons and assisted by his daughter, Alex Jane Clemmons, (now Massey). Clemmons now assists Massey some 10 years later.
Edmonson County is now 17-10 on the season and is scheduled to face Owensboro Catholic in the semi-finals on Tuesday night at 8PM.