Woodford County came to western Kentucky hoping to win the school’s first softball state title. The Yellow Jackets will have to make tournament history to do that, now.
Mercy, the champion out of the 6th Region, defeated Woodford County, 7-2, in the first round of the KHSAA Softball State Tournament. The Yellow Jackets, ranked No. 2 in the final coaches’ poll of the season, became the second top-five team to lose in the first round (joining No. 3 McCracken County, which lost to No. 5 Male earlier in the day).
The No. 16 Jaguars jumped on Woodford early, scoring seven runs over the first three innings — including three each in the first and third — to build a 7-0 advantage.
“We evidently were not 100-percent prepared,” Woodford Coach Les Anderson said. “Particulary early in the game, we just really weren’t there. I thought we picked our intensity and effort up, but all the credit in the world goes to Mercy. They came out ready to play.”
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Woodford starter Bethany Todd was pulled after two innings, in which she was tagged with one earned run on four hits. Caitlin Karo finished the game with three earned runs on seven hits with five strikeouts.
Todd, a University of Kentucky commit, has been dealing with a joint issue in her hip but is expected to be available Friday. Even before Mercy jumped out to a 4-0 lead, the plan coming into Thursday was to only throw Todd for a couple of innings, Anderson said.
“We hoped we could get two great innings out of her and then finish with CK,” Anderson said. “She was in a little bit of pain and I got her out basically as soon as I could. ...
“Hopefully she’ll be ready to roll with it tomorrow, but I’ve got two underclassmen pitchers and they’re gonna have to be ready to play. Everybody on the roster’s gonna have to be ready to play cause it’s all hands on deck.”
Woodford County, which knocked off top-ranked Scott County in the 11th Region finals, had a 13-game win streak snapped. The Yellow Jackets would have to win four games on Friday and two games Saturday morning to advance out of the loser’ bracket and to the state-championship round. It would then have to defeat the team that comes out of the winner’s bracket twice.
No team has ever come out of the loser’s bracket to win the state title. McCracken County was close a year ago, winning seven straight games after losing to Male in the first round. The Mustangs lost to Scott County in game two of the decisive finals showdown.
“Now we got a hard road,” Anderson said. “ ... We can do it, but we can only do it if they believe we can do it. My whole goal right now is to just win the next game.”
Tough night for Central Kentucky
Central Kentucky’s other two state-tournament participants — Boyle County and Harrison County — also lost their openers.
Notre Dame scored 15 runs over the final two innings in a 16-7 decision against Boyle County. The Rebels held a 1-0 lead through four innings and led 3-1 after five, but the Pandas put up seven runs in the top of the sixth to take their first lead. Boyle County responded with four runs of its own to cut the deficit to 8-7 but Notre Dame piled on eight more runs in the final frame.
Owensboro Catholic defeated Harrison County 10-4. The Fillies led briefly, 1-0, after the top of the first but the Aces responded with four runs. Harrison County tied the game at 4-all in the top of the fourth but Owensboro Catholic again answered, this time with six runs.
Boyle County and Harrison County were scheduled to face off in an elimination game at 11 a.m. CST Friday morning.
North Laurel 2, Leslie County 0: The No. 20 Jaguars spoiled Leslie’s second appearance at state and first since 2001. A throwing error and an RBI single by Gracie Jarvis gave North Laurel, whose 17 tournament trips match Owensboro Catholic for the most all time, its runs in the bottom of the fifth.
Male 4, McCracken County 0: For the second straight season the Bulldogs knocked McCracken into the losers’ bracket following a first-round matchup. Jaelyn Sanders allowed just three hits to the Mustangs and went 3-for-4 at the plate.
South Warren 8, Central Hardin 3: The Spartans broke away from a 3-3 ball game with a five-run binge in the top of the seventh inning. Junior Madilyn Daugherty finished 4-for-4 with three RBI.
Madisonville 10, Pikeville 1: Lexi Miller went 3-for-4 and drove in three runs for the No. 4 Maroons, who will meet Mercy on Friday morning.
KHSAA SOFTBALL STATE TOURNAMENT