To help prepare East Jessamine for East Carter star Montana Fouts, Jags Coach Tom Hamm cranked up the pitching machine back home and had his team practice its hitting every day. Sometimes twice a day. The Jaguars did the same thing when they got to Owensboro and Apollo offered to share its facilties.
Their practice was perfect enough to blemish East Carter’s 34-0 record; East Jessamine walked away with a 7-4 victory to advance to the winner’s-bracket quarterfinals for the second straight season in the Worth/KHSAA State Softball Tournament.
Box score: East Jessamine 7, East Carter 4
Hannah James, a sophomore, threw a complete game for the Jaguars, giving up four earned runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts. She carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning before allowing a two-out single to Gracie Robinson.
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James said Fouts threw more outside pitches than East Jessamine is used to seeing.
“That was like all that we worked on in practice this week was hitting outside pitches, and I think it paid off,” James said.
It definitely paid off for Malin Miracle, a senior headed to Campbellsville. She’d been in a slump coming into the state tournament but finished 3-for-4 with three RBI, including a two-RBI double to swell East Jessamine’s lead to 3-0 in the top of the third inning.
Miracle estimated that East Jessamine had spent 10 hours working on its hitting compared to just an hour of infield work this week. “It made a big difference” against Fouts, whom she called “the best pitcher we’ve definitely seen this year.”
Fouts, a sophomore who’s committed to the University of Alabama, struck out 12 batters but allowed seven earned runs on 11 hits. East Carter had given up only 11 runs all year.
“They’re a very good ball-hitting team,” East Carter Coach Derek Calhoun said. “From top to bottom they put the bat on the ball. They put the ball all over the field on us.”
The Raiders couldn’t get much going after loading the bases in the top of the first thanks to some East Jessamine miscues. Calhoun expected his team to be nervous in its state-tournament debut. That, combined with the effort of James — “one of the top two or three pitchers we’ve seen this year,” he said — helped lead to their first loss this season.
“Hopefully we got that out of us and can get ready for a run tomorrow,” Calhoun said.
East Carter falls to the consolation bracket, where it will meet Johnson Central on Friday. The Golden Eagles lost to Madisonville, 11-0, on Thursday.
East Jessamine (37-4) will play the Maroons, who improved to 34-3 with their win.
“We wanna stay on the top side of that bracket and work our way down there,” Hamm said. “They know how good Madisonville-North Hopkins is. They’re no different than this team; just as good, maybe better. So we’re just gonna have to go out and stay in the same mindset.”
When: Through Saturday
Where: Jack C. Fisher Park in Owensboro
Live updates: Follow @HLpreps on Twitter