Corie Roberts had gotten used to being the baby on the Paul Dunbar team.
The senior catcher has been playing for the Bulldogs since the seventh grade.
But now it's Roberts and her fellow seniors taking on the leadership roles.
"It's been tough," Roberts said. "I feel like a mom sometimes with 21 kids.
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"You're used to coming out and being able to cry if you do bad, but you can't when you're the older ones. When everyone looks up to you, you have to push them through it and wipe their tears."
But somehow the Dunbar team with the "21 kids" as a part of a starting lineup that often includes at least five underclassmen (all three of their top pitchers are still in middle school) have won 21 games.
That 21st win came Monday night in the opening round of the 43rd District with a 10-0 win over Lexington Christian in five innings.
Roberts was a catalyst, opening the game with a first-pitch, three-run home run over the fence at Lafayette to give the Bulldogs a 4-0 cushion after one.
"Corie has been leading us all year," Coach Mike Wainscott said. "She's got 41 RBI. She's really leading us and helping us a lot."
Roberts added another RBI in the four-run second inning with a single.
Junior Maggie Shell went 3-for-3 with two doubles and an RBI to lead all batters.
"A lot of us got a hold of it today and focused and got it done instead of just swinging the bat and making ourselves look dumb," Roberts said. "Which was a good thing for us, to be able to get some hits and gain some confidence."
The Bulldogs (21-13) will face Tates Creek (4-30) in the semifinals for a chance to advance to the 11th Region Tournament, something they missed out on last season.
That was difficult for Dunbar, which hadn't missed the region since 2004.
They'd like to start a new streak this season.
"Since we're getting closer to the (district) final, everyone's just getting more excited and pumped up," Shell said.
Dunbar seventh-grader Shelby Shanks pitched five innings of two-hit ball.
The Eagles (6-20) tripled their win total from last season, but now must replace seven regular starters who are graduating.
Lexington Christian 000 00— 0 2 4
Paul Dunbar 440 2x —10 12 0
Sarah Miller and Shelby Slusher. Shelby Shanks and Corie Roberts. W—Shanks. L—Slusher. 2B—Ashton Salyers, Maggie Shell (2), Roberts, Shanks. HR—Roberts.
Records — Dunbar 21-13, Lex. Christian 6-20.
Scott Co. shuts out Sayre
Scott County scored 15 runs in the first inning and eighth-grader Marley Tavis had six strikeouts in three innings in an 18-0 victory against Sayre in the 42nd District opener.
42rd District at Sayre
Sayre 000— 0 0 3
Scott Co. (15)3x—18 11 0
Pagan and Lorton; Tavis and Crowe. W—Tavis. L—Pagan. 2B—Glover. 3B—Whitlock, Cassidy.
Records—Scott Co. 23-5-1, Sayre 4-12.