OWENSBORO — It was a tough day for perennial powers at the State Softball Tournament on Friday. Both Kentucky's No. 1 team and the defending state runner-up were sent home early.
The day's biggest upset came when Conner, which hadn't been to the state tournament since 1998, eliminated top-ranked Christian County from the consolation bracket 2-1. The Lady Colonels were blanked 6-0 by Mercy earlier in the day.
Christian County's season ended when pinch-runner Zatoria Leavell, who represented the tying run, was thrown out trying to steal second.
It was a stunning loss for Christian County, who had lost only two games to Kentucky teams all year, both to Owensboro Catholic.
Never miss a local story.
"We just didn't play well, and you have to give Mercy and Conner a lot of credit," Christian County Coach David Joiner said. "We have a young team, so hopefully we'll be able to learn and build from this experience."
No. 4 North Laurel, the 2001 state champions and runner-up last year, also failed to make it past the first day. The Lady Jaguars won their first game against Montgomery County 5-0 but dropped back-to-back contests to North Hardin (5-2) and Garrard County (8-0).
Christian County and North Laurel's early departures might have stamped No. 2 Owensboro Catholic and No. 5 Mercy as the favorites going into Saturday. Both teams coasted to a pair of shutout wins: Catholic beat Conner 8-0 and Pleasure Ridge Park 12-0 while Mercy preceded its win over Christian County with a 2-0 win over Ashland Blazer.
■ Allen County-Scottsville might have been the most resilient team of the day. The Patriots dodged an early upset by scoring two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to escape with a 5-4 win over Garrard County in one of the better games of the day. They then overcame a two-run deficit in the fourth inning to beat Franklin County going away, 8-2.
■ Montgomery County's inability to get its bats going resulted in a short stay. The Lady Indians didn't score a run and came up with only six hits in a pair of shutout losses to North Laurel and Marshall County.
■ Dominant pitching performances are usually a theme in the State Softball Tournament, but only one pitcher flirted with a no-hitter on Friday: Conner's Kelsey Robinson, who gave up one hit in her team's 1-0 win over Johnson Central.