For the last few years the Woodford County softball team has been on one of the most impressive runs in program history. But one team has been a recurring thorn in the Yellowjackets’ side during that span: perennial region powerhouse Scott County.
That all changed on Wednesday night. After falling to the Cardinals in the 11th Region finals the past two years, No. 2 Woodford County turned the tables, knocking off No. 1 Scott County 1-0 in the 11th Region championship at Franklin County High School, securing the program’s first trip to the state tournament since 2006.
The Yellowjackets could only muster two hits against the defending state champion Cardinals, but one was all they needed to back up a dominant, gutty performance from pitcher Bethany Todd.
Freshman Delaney Enlow led off the top of the sixth with a massive home run to center field that ignited the Woodford County dugout.
“It was so loud in there I couldn’t hear myself think,”said Woodford Coach Les Anderson. “It was such a good game. Both teams have worked so hard. We just caught the break.”
Todd protected the 1-0 lead and ended the Jackets’ five-game losing streak to the Cardinals. After Hannah Davis roped a one-out single to right field in the bottom of the frame for Scott County’s third and final hit, Anderson visited Todd on the mound.
Todd, who’s signed with the University of Kentucky, struggled through back pain the entire game. She favored the lower left side after nearly every pitch over the final few innings. When asked if the conversation veered toward whether or not to pull his ace, Anderson was definitive.
“No way, it was all about how to attack Kennedy Sullivan. We just need to give Bethany a little breather to reset,” he said.
Todd coaxed a grounder from Sullivan then, after intentionally walking Princess Valencia, struck out Jessi Tucker to strand two Scott County runners. In the seventh, Todd retired the side in order, including a swinging strikeout of Emily Jasper to end the game. Todd’s teammates burst out of the dugout and they all celebrated in the infield.
“This is just so crazy,” Todd said. “We’ve worked so hard for this moment and it’s paying off now. This is probably the greatest moment of my life.”
The Cardinals had their chances. Their first hit came on a Valencia rocket straight up the middle that Todd did well to knock down with her glove. Valencia beat the throw then moved to second on a two-out bunt single by Grace Mullins. But Todd shut down the threat, winning a 10-pitch dual with Madison Moss with an inside fastball for her fifth strikeout.
Todd again worked out of trouble in the fourth when Valencia tagged a grounder down the line that the third baseman couldn’t handle, reaching second on the error. But Todd retired two straight to escape the jam.
Enlow’s homer spoiled a fantastic performance by Scott County pitcher Sullivan. The junior, who’s verbally committed to Western Kentucky, struck out six of the first eight batters she saw before Ariel Dailey singled through the middle of the infield for Woodford’s first hit. Sullivan went the distance for the Cardinals, striking out 13 and allowing just one walk.
Enlow said the Jackets aren’t content with a region title.
“We expect to go to Owensboro and win the state title. We don’t expect anything else from ourselves. That’s our goal.”
Todd and Hampton; Sullivan and Valencia. W—Todd. L—Sullivan.
Records—Scott Co. 32-5, Woodford Co. 32-5.
What: KHSAA State Softball Tournament
Who: 11th Region champion vs. 6th Region champion
When: June 8 at 8 p.m. EDT
Where: Jack C. Fisher Park in Owensboro