OWENSBORO — Have Mercy!
Mercy Academy scored three runs in the first inning and went on to whip Lone Oak 7-2 to win the Rawlings/KHSAA Softball State Tournament championship Saturday at Jack C. Fisher Park.
The Jaguars completed a five-game sweep in the double-elimination tournament to claim their first state title.
Mercy (36-8) was state runner-up in 2003, '09 and '10.
Lone Oak (40-6) was playing in the finals for the first time.
Boyle County finishes third
Earlier, fourth-ranked Mercy and No. 17 Lone Oak handed Boyle County back-to-back losses, sending home the unranked Rebels with the third-place trophy.
Mercy blanked Boyle 8-0 in the winners' bracket finals.
Lone Oak scored a 3-2 walkoff win in the losers' bracket finals.
The second loss was especially tough for the 12th Region champions, who rallied to tie the game with a run in the top of the seventh.
Coming off the shutout loss to Mercy, Boyle County (33-13) scored a run in the top of the first against Lone Oak, getting a one-out double by Heather Hasty and an RBI single by pitcher Hannah Miniard.
Lone Oak parlayed Haven Gary's leadoff single and a pair of errors to tie it in the third, then took a 2-1 lead in the fifth on back-to-back two-out doubles by Whitney Aspery and Alex Sohl.
"We jumped out on top. I felt good. We just made a couple of mistakes that allowed them to get that first run in that tied us up 1-1," Boyle Coach Brian Deem said. "Then, their second run was a bleeder that was just one of those gork balls you've just got to get to, and we weren't able to. But my kids fought back. They came back and they 'played cool like Fonzie,' like I told them all year."
Down to their final out, the Rebels got a run-scoring triple from Lauren Richards. Amy Woolum, who had reached on an error, scored from second for a 2-2 tie.
"We were always taught never to give up, and that's what we did," said Richards, who also had one of Boyle's two hits against Mercy.
Hasty then hit the ball hard, but right at center fielder Sarah Krueter.
Kelsee Henson led off the Lone Oak seventh with a double.
Jacqueline Roof put down a sacrifice bunt, and a throwing error allowed Henson to come around with the winning run.
"(Boyle) got back in it, tied the game up and we knew what was going to happen," Deem said. "They got a big hit to put 'em on second. We knew the bunt was coming, and just didn't execute it defensively. That's the ball game."
In the winners' bracket finals, Mercy put up four runs in the top of the first, two in the second and coasted.
After J.J. Francis pitched a scoreless first inning, Haley Twyman worked the final six innings.
Twyman struck out nine, while holding Boyle to a pair of singles by Woolum and Richards.
After falling to Lone Oak, Deem had a final meeting with his team.
His message: "Don't let one game dictate how you should feel. ... They've accomplished so much this year. I told our seniors they've set the bar high, and they left our program in better shape than when they got here.
"And I told our kids, 'remember this.' We lose two seniors, and we've got 10 incoming freshmen that just won their conference championship in our area. So we've got kids coming in, so we hope to be back here and hopefully learn from our mistakes."
Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229.Twitter: @MarkMaloneyHLBlog: markmaloney.bloginky.com