Jordan Ison had three hits and drove in four runs Wednesday as defending state champion Scott County cruised to an 8-4 victory over host Dunbar in the 11th Region softball semifinals.
Then, in a game that did not end until 11:32 p.m., Woodford County sophomore Caitlin Karo tossed a no-hitter in a 4-0 win over Madison Central.
"I did really well," Karo said. "But I think my defense really helped me a lot. The outfield did really good."
Scott's third-ranked Cardinals will play for the region championship Thursday night at 7 against No. 6 Woodford County.
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"We did OK. We took care of business," Scott County Coach Jeff Portwood said. "We started out early. I wasn't pleased with the level of enthusiasm towards the end of the ball game. It looked like we tightened up there the last couple of innings. That's not normally us; we play loose. But all in all, it's a win, so we'll take that at this time of year."
The start of the Dunbar-Scott County game was delayed a little more than two hours due to rain.
"It had a big effect," Portwood said of the delay. "We played kickball in the gym for an hour and a half, so I'm sure that took something out of them too. But they were going stir crazy a little bit, so we had to let them do what they have to do."
Once play began, Scott County (29-8) wasted no time in jumping on top.
Two singles and a walk loaded the bases with none out. Ison cleared the bases with a double down the left-field line.
"I haven't been hitting well lately, so I just needed to step up in my position," Ison said. "That's when I decided I was going to do something for myself and my team, and I let that big hit come."
Dunbar (17-14) pulled to within 3-1 in the bottom of the first, thanks to Shelby Shanks' two-out home run.
Scott County added three runs in the third to take a 6-1 lead.
Taylor Ricketts delivered an RBI-single and Kennedy Sullivan drove in two with a double.
The Cardinals made it 7-1 in the fourth, courtesy of Sam Smith's sacrifice fly.
Ison doubled in another run to make it 8-1 in the sixth.
"I just kept my bat hot throughout the whole game," Ison said.
Dunbar scored a run in the bottom of the sixth when Riley Brown was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. However, the Bulldogs wound up leaving the bases full.
Stephanie Harvey's run-scoring double in the seventh cut the gap to 8-3.
Shanks drove in a final run with a groundout.
In addition to Ison, Hannah Davis had three hits for the winners.
Shanks had two of Dunbar's four hits.
"I thought they put in a good effort, but we just couldn't get enough runs on the board," Dunbar co-coach Lee Davis said. "Scott County's a really, really aggressive, strong-hitting team, and you have to score a lot of runs against them. ... Our girls had a pretty good post-season, and had a good season overall, so I'm proud of them."
Ison thinks the Cardinals have what it takes to repeat as state champion.
"We have a lot of chemistry," she said. "And I think we have the ability and the talent to do it. We've just got to keep it together and string our hits together, and we'll be fine."
In the nightcap, Central's Courtney Patton and Woodford's Karo hooked up in a scoreless pitcher's duel through three innings.
But Woodford (33-3-1) got untracked with three runs in the fourth, aided by three Indians errors.
Ariel Dailey doubled in the first run. A second run scored on Caitlin Ferguson's fielder's choice grounder. A third run scored on an error.
The Yellowjackets added a run in the sixth, Karo driving across Ferguson with a sharp single to center.
"We're excited," Woodford Coach Sasha Turansky said of meeting Scott County for the title. "We've been looking forward to this since the first round of the region last year. All year, we've kind of been head-to-head even though we never played each other, and we think we're the best two teams in the region. We're ready to get on the field and figure it out tomorrow."
SCOTT COUNTY 8, DUNBAR 4
Scott County 303 101 0— 8 12 1
Dunbar 100 001 2—4 4 1
Sullivan, Wittry (5) and Ison; Shanks, Wilson (4), Schweighardt (5) and Foxworth. 2B—Ison 2, Sullivan, Wittry. SC; Harvey, D. HR—Shanks, D.
WOODFORD COUNTY 4, MADISON CENTRAL 0
Madison Central 000 000 0 — 0 0 3
Woodford County 000 301 x — 4 6 1
Patton and Hendrix; Karo and Head. 2B—Dailey, WC.