Western Hills made sure its best season in program history would last at least one more night with a 9-1 thumping of Henry Clay in the 11th Region semifinals Tuesday night at Lafayette.
The Wolverines jumped on Henry Clay early, reeling off nine unanswered runs after the Blue Devils took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Western Hills tied things in the second before unleashing a four-run inning in the third to take control. Parker Burge delivered a bases-loaded RBI single during that stretch to put the Wolverines ahead 4-1. He finished 3-for-4 on the day with two RBI.
Burge, a sophomore, filled in for Cameron Barton, who left the game with a concussion suffered after colliding with the left-field wall. Barton’s status for Wednesday’s championship game was to be determined. Burge’s ability to step up reflected an attitude instilled by second-year head coach Drew Chism: next man up.
“Be ready when your number is called,” Chism said. “Don’t be sitting over there waiting, twiddling your thumbs. Be ready to come in and get after it.”
Chism, a Woodford County graduate, said to his knowledge this is the first time Western Hills has advanced to the 11th Region finals. In August he suggested to his team that it could be one of the best in school history; the Wolverines’ program-best 27 wins and first regional finals appearance would make that objectively so here in June.
This edition of the Wolverines played Scott County, their finals opponent, twice during the regular season. It fell 14-1 at home before an 8-6 loss in Georgetown. With a state tournament berth on the line, Chism believes his guys will be ready to give it their all against the Cardinals.
“We played ’em twice this year and they’ve gotten the best of us twice,” Chism said. “I think it’s gonna be a good test for us but I know our guys are hyped for it and they want another shot at Scott County.”
For Henry Clay, a solid season came to a screeching halt. Coach Jordan Tarrence was proud of the work his players — especially his seniors — put in to reach a point many teams in the state weren’t able to reach.
“They won the first game of district and got themselves here,” Tarrence said. “Not everybody can say that. They won the first game of region and got themselves to this point. Not everybody can say that. They put themselves in position to make a run and it just didn’t happen tonight.”
Jackson and; May, Czuhajewski (3), Kindy (5), Rider (5), Morris (7) and. W—Jackson. L—May. 2B—Etherington (WH), Dacci (HC). Records—Western Hills 27-9, Henry Clay 23-15.