One of the few accolades missing from the résumé of Madisonville softball star Kaylee Tow was a state championship.
She checked that box in the final game of her high school career as the Maroons defeated Male 5-3 to win the the 2017 KHSAA Softball State Tournament title Saturday afternoon at Jack C. Fisher Park.
Madisonville went 5-1 to win the school’s first KHSAA championship since 1991, when the girls’ golf team won its second consecutive team golf title. It was the school’s third team title and its first in a traditional team sport.
Male, whom the Maroons defeated 9-0 in the winner’s bracket finals to start the day, came out of the loser’s bracket and handed Madisonville a 5-1 loss in the first championship game to force a second, winner-take-all contest.
Madisonville (38-6) got up 1-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning in the second game and added four more runs in the bottom of the sixth. After having 18 of its first 19 batters retired, Male’s first four batters reached in the top of the seventh. The Bulldogs put three runs across before a fly out to left field ended their season.
Tow, a senior who’s signed with the University of Alabama, was named to the All-Tournament team along with teammates Mallory Peyton and Courtney Patterson, a sophomore who pitched in every game and was named MVP.
“Courtney Patterson was stellar,” Madisonville Coach Shannon Peyton said. “Stellar, the whole tournament. We relied on her more than we ever have and she stepped up right in front of everybody.”
Tow has played for Madisonville’s varsity team since she was in seventh grade and has been part of the best stretch in program history. The Maroons have played in four straight state tournaments after only one previous appearance in program history (2001).
“My dad’s been telling me my whole life that there’s a lot of great players that never won a championship,” Tow said. “You can’t be great if you don’t win a championship, so I was just so proud. There’s nothing like waiting ’til your senior year to win a championship.
Madisonville made the winner’s bracket finals last year, falling to eventual state champion Scott County in the winner’s bracket finals. It then succumbed to McCracken County in a 10-inning decision immediately afterward in the loser’s bracket finals.
It graduated three senior starters — a first baseman, a third baseman and a shortstop — from last year’s team.
“The thing is, this whole season they’re like, ‘Madisonville lost their whole infield, Madisonville’s not as good as they were last year,’” Tow said, “and the fact that we just came out and proved it, we’re better than we ever were.”
Male finished as runner-up for the second time in the last three seasons. The Bulldogs will graduate eight seniors but return their top pitcher, sophomore-to-be Jaelyn Sanders, and four other starters from a team that went 30-6.
KHSAA Softball State All-Tournament Team
MVP—Courtney Patterson, Madisonville
Team—Mallory Peyton, Madisonville; Kaylee Tow, Madisonville; Jaelyn Sanders, Male; Bayleigh Masterson, Male; Dani Walls, Male; Katie Conley, South Warren; Shelby Nunn, South Warren; Mackenzie Short, Owensboro Catholic; Lauren Willett, Owensboro Catholic; Lexi Ray, Mercy; Montana Fouts, East Carter; Ariel Dailey, Woodford County; Kaci Goedde, Central Hardin