Kennedy Sullivan was dominant in Scott County’s first two victories in the Worth/KHSAA State Softball Tournament, but so were the Cardinals’ bats.
Scott County didn’t get abundant production at the plate, but it got another impressive outing from Sullivan and put together enough offense in the early part of the game to come away with a 2-0 win over Male on a hot Friday evening at Jack C. Fisher Park.
The Cardinals advanced to the winner’s bracket finals, where they’ll play Madisonville at 10 a.m. EDT.
“It feels so great,” anSullivan said after the game. “ … We’ve fought back and forth with Male for a couple years. Just to come and play together as a team and hit whenever we need hits and have good defense when we need good defense, it just feels so good.”
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Sullivan struck out 12 of 25, including the final Male batter she faced. The sophomore has 36 strikeouts through three games in the state tournament. Nine of those came during Scott County’s 11-0 six-inning win over Louisville Holy Cross earlier in the day.
She’s almost gone the distance for Scott County this weekend; CeCe Wittry has thrown 2 and 1/3 innings. Fatigue appeared to set in during the bottom of the seventh against Male when, after the Cards recorded a fly out, Sullivan walked two straight batters. Coach Jeff Portwood visited the mound but there was no thought given to removing Sullivan with the game on the line.
“I truly believed in her or she wouldn’t be out there,” Portwood said. “We knew we were facing a tough team. We’ve played them every year, two or three ball games a year, and it’s always down to the wire. We knew we had to bring our ‘A’ game.”
Scott County advanced to the winner’s bracket quarterfinals last season before Male knocked it into the consolation bracket. The Cardinals fell to North Laurel in their first consolation game in 2015.
They flipped the script thanks to runs in the second and third inning, the first coming on a Jordan Ison single and the next on a fielding error at second base. The Cardinals used two double plays — including one at second base off a strikeout to end a threat in the sixth inning — to keep Male at bay.
“You gotta play heads up against teams like that and I’m satisfied,” Portwood said.
Madisonville, the second-ranked team in the state, is on a 13-game win streak dating back to a loss to Apollo on May 9. The Maroons (35-3) were the only team that defeated No. 1 McCracken County in the regular season, and they did it twice. Scott County’s only two losses this season were to McCracken County.
The biggest victory for both Scott County and Madisonville has been staying in the winner’s bracket, especially with 90-plus temperatures in the forecast Saturday.
“Let all the other guys battle it out in that loser’s bracket and play four or five games in a row,” Portwood said. “Last man standing.”
When: Saturday (Games begin at 10 a.m. EDT, with championship game set for 2 p.m. and, if necessary, 4 p.m.)
Where: Jack C. Fisher Park in Owensboro
Live updates: Follow @HLpreps on Twitter