Softball: Scott County edges McCracken County for state softball title

mmaloney@herald-leader.comJune 7, 2014 

State Softball

Scott County's Taylor Ricketts headed home to a raucous celebration by her teammates after she hit a grand slam home run in the third inning of Saturday's championship game.

JOHN DUNHAM — AP

OWENSBORO — From the outhouse to the penthouse on one wild Saturday.

That was the route Scott County took in winning the Worth/KHSAA Fast Pitch Softball State Tournament at Jack C. Fisher Park.

The Cardinals edged McCracken County 7-6 for the championship.

That came after the Mustangs, who came out of the losers' bracket of the double-elimination tourney, spanked Scott County 11-1 in five innings to force a winner-take-all game.

"They've done that all year," Coach Jeff Portwood said of the resiliency showed by his team. "There's no give-up in these ladies. They fought all year.

"Nov. 4, we started this conditioning program. We had goals to meet and the obvious goal was what we just took. They never give up. They never give up. They just keep battling."

"We walked into that (first) game knowing that we had two chances," Cardinals pitcher Marlee Tevis said. "We should have taken advantage of our first one, but we didn't. So we had to bounce back. We knew what we had to do, and we took care of business."

That they did, rallying from an early 2-0 deficit to score a run in the second inning and five in third, the latter sparked by Taylor Ricketts' grand-slam home run. Ricketts put her second homer of the season and first slam ever over the fence in left field.

"As soon as I saw the pitch coming I was like 'oh, crap, she just messed up.'" Ricketts said. "I took it. I saw it. I knew it was my pitch and I knew that the bases were loaded and we needed to score, so I went at it."

Top-ranked McCracken battled back with four runs in the fifth to tie, but Scott County wasn't about to fold.

In the bottom of the fifth, No. 9 hitter Kelci Long banged a double to right, then took third on Halie Fain's single.

Hannah Davis singled through the right side to drive in Long with what proved to be the winning run.

Not a bad way for Portwood to celebrate with wife Kenna on their 28th wedding anniversary.

McCracken (41-7) had a chance to come back in the seventh. With one out, Kelsee Henson singled. But when Hannah Ridolfi followed with another base hit, pinch-runner Mia Rayburn was caught trying to go from first to third.

"It was one of those sophomore running mistakes," said Mustangs Coach Tony Hayden, who tried to hold Rayburn at second.

Tevis got Madeline Wooten on a comebacker to end the game.

"It's more than I could ever ask for," said right fielder Katie Stamper, the tourney MVP and one of three seniors who missed graduation in order to play. "Having to give up graduation, it was just a rough time. I'm so glad that everybody came together and we pulled it out."

No. 6 Scott County wound up with a 33-9 record, with No. 33 being the sweetest.

"Wow!" Portwood said. "It's hard to grasp actually. I'm a little bit shook up, but it was good."

Coming out of the losers' bracket, McCracken County needed to beat Scott twice.

The Mustangs made quick work of the first half of that assignment, "run-ruling" the Cardinals.

Ten runs scored in the fourth inning, aided by four errors, five walks and a hit batter.

Between games, Portwood called a team meeting and said "There's nothing we can do about that one. We've still got another chance, and let's go get it."

Then they did.

Scott Co. 4, Male 2: The Cardinals began their day by topping Male in the winner's bracket finals.

Male jumped to a 2-0 lead, scoring an unearned run in the second inning and getting a solo homer by Amanda McIver to open the fourth.

The Bulldogs nearly broke the game open in the fourth, getting runners to second and third with one out. But Tevis struck out pinch-hitter Kam Lewis and got Alyssa Case on a groundout.

"She bowed her neck and took it upon herself to lead the team," Portwood said of Tevis. "She's done it all year long."

Tevis went the distance, yielding four hits and a walk while striking out six.

Male starter Jessica Wireman threw four innings of no-hit ball before being replaced by Olivia Suski to open the fifth.

"We didn't feel that it mattered — we were starting to catch up with the No. 1 pitcher," Portwood said. "We've hit her before; we've played a couple times and split this season. But we were determined to do whatever it took, and whatever they threw at us we were bound to take and take care of business."

The Cards got two hits and took advantage of two Male errors to score twice in the fifth.

Long's single to right-center scored Sam Luckett and, when the throw to the plate was off line, Ricketts came in to tie the game.

Two more runs crossed in the sixth inning.

Davis, who led off with a walk, wound up scoring on Stamper's sacrifice fly.

Tevis singled, and pinch-runner Grace Mullins eventually came home on a passed ball.

"We've got one more to go," Portwood said. "And that's what we've talked about since way back in November when we started conditioning. We've got one goal, and one goal only. And that's not the district champs, it's not the region champs. It's the state champs. And we're one game away from it."

Losers' bracket games

McCracken Co. 5, Male 4: Jacqueline Roof led off the bottom of the seventh inning with a walkoff home run to put the Mustangs into championship round.

McCracken Co. 10, Mercy 3: Rachel Ridolfi's three-run homer sparked a six-run fifth inning as the Mustangs advanced to the losers' bracket finals.

Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @markmaloneyhl. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com.

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