FRANKFORT — Because of an uncanny ability to produce two-out hits with runners in scoring position, Woodford County has landed a spot in the 11th Region Softball Tournament finals.
The Yellow Jackets scored all their runs with two outs to upend Henry Clay 9-2 in Tuesday's semifinals at Lakeview Park.
Woodford (23-10) will face Scott County, a 6-4 winner over Franklin County, in Thursday's 6 p.m. finals.
Woodford County 9, Henry Clay 2: Woodford, which uncorked a six-run second inning to beat Madison Central 6-0 Monday, popped another six-spot Tuesday. The Jackets sent 11 batters to the plate in the first inning.
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Three walks and a hit batsman added fuel to four Woodford hits.
"That shows you how hard we fight and how we don't give up," winning coach Sasha Turansky said of the two-out scores. "And how we know, no matter what the situation is, we're never out of it."
A bases-loaded walk opened the scoring.
Then winning pitcher Rachel McCoy laced a two-run single up the middle.
A walk re-filled the bags for No. 9 hitter Kyla Simpson's two-run single.
Kaitlyn Coleman singled in the sixth run of the inning.
"Two-out hits, and a lot of walks. A lot of walks," Henry Clay Coach George Beard said. "A lot of questionable calls. But that's part of the game. That was for both sides. They just played better than we did today."
Turansky wasn't happy with some calls, either.
"It was a hard game. Umpires were taking all of us out of it," she said. "They had — I don't even know how to say this politically correct. There was an opportunity for us to get caught up in what was going on outside of the game of softball — strike zone, judgment calls on us getting hit (by a pitch), things like that.
"I think, even though we have a young team, we did a good job of staying calm. We're very young, and we didn't let it bother us. And that was key."
Woodford's other three runs came in the fifth.
Back-to-back two-out walks set the table for Brooke Corum to knock a two-run double.
Corum scored on Mandy Head's single to center.
Henry Clay (17-11). which lost 5-3 to Woodford on April 25, scored a run in the fourth and one in the seventh.
MacKenzie Claus drove in the first with a sacrifice fly.
Riley Stokes doubled in the seventh-inning run.
"I'm proud of my team. My team played as hard as they can play," Beard said. "Woodford County's beat us twice this year so, hey, evidently that team can play, too. Hats off to Woodford County."
McCoy held the Blue Devils to six hits, including two each by Stokes and Claus.
"I felt really good going into it, and as the game went along," McCoy said. "I think the six-run lead we got in the first inning really helped. I just felt really confident.
"I'm a senior, so I didn't want to mess up and I didn't want to be the one that cost us the game."
Now, the Jackets are one win away from a trip to Owensboro for the State Tournament.
"We're playing the way we need to play to get there. That's what it is. We're going to go in with a chance," Turansky said. "We have as good a shot as anybody and we're very confident in how we're playing right now."
Scott County 6, Franklin County 4: The Cardinals (32-4) used a pair of three-run innings to survive and advance.
Scott County sent nine batters to the plate in the third and eight more in the fourth to do all the damage.
Michal Luckett's run-scoring single sparked the third-inning uprising, while Elaina Johnson, Kelsey Crowe and winning pitcher Marlee Tevis each drove in a fourth-inning run.
"I think they came out, first, a little tight. Feeling a little pressure on them, Coach Scott Walters said. "Then when we started talking about getting deeper in the count and looking for our pitch, then we started putting balls where they weren't. Defense did good until that last inning there. But I thought it was a good, hard-fought ball game."
Franklin County (25-12), which dropped an 11-0 five-inning game to Scott on April 30, battled all the way.
The Flyers got single runs in the fourth and fifth and put up two in the seventh.
Sidney Ward led Franklin with three hits.
For Scott County, though, it's another step to Owensboro. One more remains. The Cardinals beat Woodford County 10-0 on April 9.
"Woodford, that's a whole different team from what we saw earlier in the season," Walters said. "They're on a roll. ... They've got a lot of good sticks.
"I'm real proud of the girls the way they hung together today. It's a good group."
Woodford co. 9, henry clay 2
Henry Clay 000 100 1—2 6 0
Woodford County 600 030 x—9 7 0
Hensley, Cooper (1), Hamilton (2) and Miller; McCoy and Simpson. 2B — Stokes 2 (HC), Parsons (HC), Corum (WC).
Scott Co. 6, Franklin Co. 4
Franklin County 000 110 2—4 11 4
Scott County 003 300 x—6 7 4
Howard and Johnson; Tevis and Crowe. 2B — Ward (FC), Gaines (FC).
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Finals at Frankfort's Lakeview Park
6 p.m.: Woodford Co. vs. Scott Co.