OWENSBORO — As a late rally fell just short, tears started to flow in the Lafayette dugout.
A dream season in which the No. 12 Generals advanced to the school's first-ever state softball tournament third round ended in a tough 7-5 loss to No. 16 Pleasure Ridge Park at Jack Fisher Park.
"Nothing went our way, and we couldn't string anything together," Coach Dana Taylor said afterward. "But I was proud of how they fought back."
Taylor was part of the reason for that fight.
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The coach hotly contested a called out at third base and was tossed in the top of the seventh inning. That's when Lafayette (26-12) rallied to score three runs, including two on an Alexis Hull single.
The Panthers managed to hold on and advance to Saturday morning's consolation bracket finals to play Calloway County.
PRP was led by Samantha Lindsay's two RBI. Autumn McDuffie added three hits for the Panthers (35-8).
Hull, Brittany Sims, Alyssa Oakley, Lauren Mitchell and Lauren Brockman each had two hits for the Generals, who fell in a 3-2 hole after three innings.
PRP set the tone early by scoring two runs in the first inning on Lindsay's two-run home run over the left-field fence.
Another Lafayette error — one of the things that plagued the Generals in their earlier loss to top-ranked Ballard — allowed a run to score in the third.
A mental error was costly in the fourth inning when what should have been a Paige Murphy ground-rule double was called an in-the-park home run after a Lafayette outfielder grabbed the ball from under the fence before an official could verify it.
Sara Paragon's sacrifice fly to deep center scored Lindsay from third in the fifth inning to extend PRP's lead to 5-2. The Panthers led by as many as five runs before Lafayette clawed back.
Even though the game didn't go the way the Generals had hoped, Taylor was still proud of what her team had accomplished.
"They had a fantastic season," she said. "We had a heck of a region to get out of and a tough draw here. I'm very proud of them, very proud of them."
She thinks in a day or two her players will be equally as proud of what they did.
"Once they have a little bit of time and they can reflect on the teams they did beat and the teams they played and what they did accomplish, they'll feel better," she said. "We had an outstanding team, a very special group of girls."
No. 1 Ballard 14, No. 12 Lafayette 2: The Bruins proved to be a brutal speed bump for Lafayette in the semifinals.
Ballard, which won its 24th straight game and remained undefeated against Kentucky opponents, had to rally after Brittany Sims started the Generals with a home run over the left-field fence. Emily Kincaid's double pushed in the second run of the first inning.
Ballard wasn't exactly rattled. And soon Lafayette was.
The Generals had six errors — all but one from the infield — in the next three innings, and they gave up 10 runs to blow the game open. For the game, they had an uncharacteristic seven errors.
In the second inning, Ballard's Hannah Gray had a two-run double, one of four hits (and five runs) in that inning. In the third inning, Jordan Wise had a two-run single and several errors allowed the Bruins to add to their advantage.
Ballard (38-4) finished with 15 hits, led by Jordan Wise's three hits and two RBI.
Lafayette 5, Calloway County 0: Less than 10 hours after an upset of No. 4 Owensboro Catholic on Thursday night, the Generals earned a shutout victory in the quarterfinals.
Alexis Hull, who hit the go-ahead triple against the Aces on Thursday, stayed hot for Lafayette with three hits and an RBI in the Generals' morning win.
Lauren Mitchell and Jamie Vescio each had two hits for Lafayette, which blew the game open with a three-run third inning.
Starter Cassidy Taylor held the Lakers to two hits for the win. Emily Kincaid held them without a hit in her two innings of relief.