In Shelby McLean’s five years playing for Bryan Station, the Lady Defenders had never beaten Henry Clay — not during the season and not during the districts.
The senior slugger helped end that drought Monday with a three-run home run that propelled Bryan Station to its first win over the Blue Devils since 2010 and earn its first appearance in the 11th Region tournament over the same period. Bryan Station defeated Henry Clay 8-4 in the 42nd District softball tournament, but the win went beyond the score for the Defenders.
“It means everything,” said McLean who’s been playing since eighth grade. “I felt like my hitting had finally come along. I’d been struggling and I just relaxed up there when I came up to bat. … It just looked really big. It looked perfect, and I just swung.”
McLean’s three-run bomb to right-center put Bryan Station up 5-1 in the fifth inning.
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“She’s my donkey,” Coach Hector Urbaneja, in his third season at Bryan Station, said of McLean. “All she needs is to concentrate and have fun. She struck out before she hit the home run, but she never gave up and she came up ready for the next at-bat.”
The Defenders needed that plus a three-run triple by catcher Emma Hamilton in the sixth inning to hold off Henry Clay, who scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth to cut the lead to 8-4. They had two runners on when pitcher Katie Hurley finally got a flyout to end the rally.
Hamilton had the task of settling Hurley as the Blue Devils’ hits mounted.
“I was just (telling her) ‘just calm down, make sure everything’s all right,’” Hamilton said. “She’s a great pitcher, she’ll never let you down.”
With the years of pent up frustration from not having defeated Henry Clay, Urbaneja said his team came out ready to play Monday. They took the Blue Devils to extra innings earlier in the season and had the winning run on twice, but could not get it across in a nine-inning, 16-12 loss. They weren’t going to let that happen in the district playoffs.
They opened the scoring in the second inning when Danielle Miller hit a two-run double, scoring Taylor Johnson and Imani Jackson to put the Defenders up 2-0.
A single by Destiny Johnson and a double by Hamilton set up McLean’s homer in the fifth. In the sixth, Imani Jackson singled, Kiersten Coleman walked and Macy Helton got a hit to load the bases for Hamilton, who took a 3-0 count to 3-2 before putting a hard-hit ball into the right-center field gap to clear the bases.
“They were focused, they were ready to go. They wanted it more than I did, and that’s what it takes,” Urbaneja said.
The Defenders next get perennial 11th Region power Scott County on Tuesday.
“We’ll be ready to go tomorrow and whatever happens, happens,” Urbaneja said. “We’re just excited for the next week.”
Bryan Station 8,
Henry Clay 4
W: Katie Hurley. L: Abby Vires. HR—BS: McLean.
Records: Bryan Station 14-21; Henry Clay 13-22.
42nd District finals at Scott Co.
6 p.m.: Bryan Station vs. Scott Co.