OWENSBORO — Scott County nearly saw its strong finish go for naught, but the Cardinals came up with the perfect ending Friday.
Back-to-back doubles by Taylor Ricketts and Jordan Ison produced the winning run in the 10th inning as No. 6 Scott County edged Apollo 6-5 in the Worth/KHSAA Fast Pitch Softball State Tournament at Jack C. Fisher Park.
The victory puts Scott County into the winners' bracket finals of the double-elimination tourney, where it will face No. 12 Male.
"We started out strong in this game and we said it all along, it's battle, battle, battle from this point forward," Coach Jeff Portwood said. "We battled. We kept our composure. Put a little eighth-grader in — Kennedy (Sullivan) pitched (51⁄3) innings. Solid defense behind her solid pitching."
Sullivan, working in relief of Marlee Tevis, worked 51⁄3 innings of two-hit, shutout ball, striking out four.
Scott County (31-8) opened with a five-run flurry in the first inning.
With runners on first and second and two outs, Katie Stamper beat out a grounder to third base. Halie Fain went from second to third, then streaked home when the ball was thrown to first base.
Sam Luckett added a two-run single and Jordan Ison singled in another.
Apollo rallied for three runs in the third and two in the fifth to tie.
The E-Gals had a chance to win in the seventh when Haley Carter singled up the middle. But centerfielder Luckett threw out the potential winning run at the plate, with Ison applying the tag, to end the inning.
"She's got a cannon in center, and if you don't know that, she'll burn you," Portwood said.
In the 10th, Ricketts laced a one-out double to right-center. Ison followed with her double down the third-base line.
"I just wanted to hit it so bad, and I knew I needed to pull through for my team," Ison said. "I just swung."
Ison and Katie Stamper each had three of Scott County's 13 hits.
Scott Co. 6, South Laurel 0: Earlier in the day, winning pitcher Tevis broke a scoreless tie by leading off the sixth inning with a homer.
"It was definitely a pitching duel in the beginning, but we pulled it together," Tevis said. "We started out a little slow for sure."
Her homer changed that.
"The girls behind me, they pump you up, so that was easy for me to walk up — it wasn't an easy hit, but it was easy for me to know what I had to do," Tevis said. "My pitch. Definitely. Because the zone was pretty tight, and we had to be patient for our pitch, and that's what I was looking for."
Scott County added five runs in the seventh, getting a two-run single by Sam Smith and a three-run homer by Luckett.
Tevis gave up three hits over six innings, with Sullivan taking over for a one-hit seventh.
Tevis, Halie Fain and Ricketts had two hits each for Scott County.
Winners' bracket games
Apollo 12, Highlands 2 (5): The E-Gals beat the Bluebirds, scoring six times in the fifth to end the game on the 10-run rule.
Sarah Smith and Savanna Williams each had three hits for Apollo, including a homer by Smith. Shelby Graybill homered for Highlands.
Male 3, Mercy 2 (9): Amanda McIver's homer in the bottom of the ninth gave the Bulldogs a walkoff win.
Mercy pitcher Leigh Ellen Thomas homered in the sixth inning to tie the game at 2.
McCracken Co. 10, Anderson Co. 0 (6): The top-ranked Mustangs won by the 10-run rule, limiting the Lady Cats to five hits.
Keely Barnes paced the winners with three hits. Autumn Beasley had two hits for Anderson.
Male 6, McCracken Co. 5: Jessica Wireman collected three hits and Alyssa Case drove in three runs as the Bulldogs made it to the winners' bracket finals.
Losers' bracket highlights
Ashland Blazer 1, Johnson Central 0: The Kittens survived a controversial finish.
Johnson Central's Rachelle Fairchild belted what appeared to many to be a two-run homer for a walkoff win in the seventh. The call, though, was a ground-rule double, and the runners were stranded at second and third.
Ashland's Megan Hensley, who struck out 12, had a perfect game until issuing a two-out walk to Lauren DeLong, right before of Fairchild's hit.
Central's Micailyn Pierce allowed one run on three hits, fanning five and walking two.
The only run scored on Sydney Campbell's fifth-inning single.
Ashland 12, Highlands 0: No controversy here as the Kittens beat the Bluebirds on the 10-run rule in five innings.
Madisonville-North Hopkins 4, Ashland 2: Kaylee Tow cracked a three-run, walkoff home run to end Ashland's tourney run.
Clark Co. 2, East Jessamine 1: Kolbi Mitchell's solo home run in the sixth inning broke a 1-1 tie, and Jenna Edwards tossed a two-hitter.
East Jessamine (30-11) took a 1-0 lead in the first. Jessica Tucker was hit by a pitch, stole second and third, then scored on an error.
Clark County tied the game in the bottom of the first as Megan Terrel cranked a home run.
Mercy 8, Clark Co. 0: Pitcher Leigh Ellen Thomas and Jordan Vorbrink, who had a three-hit game, each totaled three RBI. Sydney Anderson had two of the Cardinals' four hits.
Madisonville-North Hopkins 11, South Laurel 1: Heather Webb and Ryleigh Oldham drove in three runs each for the winners.
Green Co. 8, Anderson Co. 5: Kayla Bayle knocked in four runs on two hits to lead Green County.
Green Co. 10, Estill Co. 9 (9): Green County scored four times in the top of the ninth, then held on as the tying run was thrown out at the plate to end the game.
Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @markmaloneyhl. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com.