For a Scott County team with almost a dozen seniors, only two losses and sky-high expectations, revenge is a major motivator.
"We had payback on our mind the whole time," Cardinals senior Hannah Davis said. "We knew we wanted to come back and we wanted to beat them and show whose region this is. This is our region, and if you take it from us — you lucky."
Scott County rolled with aggressive hitting and base running to beat Woodford County 12-1 in five innings in the 11th Region softball finals at Frederick Douglass High School. Last year, the Cardinals had their postseason cut short by the Yellow Jackets, losing a 1-0 heartbreaker in the region finals.
According to Cardinals Coach Jeff Portwood, "Last year keeps them hungry."
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Scott County's bats got going and never seemed to stop. Davis led the offense with two RBI, two triples, a double and two runs of her own. She was named the tournament MVP after the game.
"It's nice to be recognized, but everybody deserves this on our team," Davis said.
From the circle, Kennedy Sullivan was dominant. According to the KHSAA, before Saturday, Sullivan boasted a 0.20 ERA through 104.1 innings. The senior pitcher struck out six, and only allowed three hits and a walk.
Sophomore Abby Moffett was the only Yellow Jacket to make a dent in the Scott County lead. Moffett smashed a lead-off homer in the second, and followed up with a lead-off double in the fourth. Sullivan was unfazed, striking out the next batter after Moffett both times.
"I didn't know what to throw her," Sullivan said of Moffett. "You know, it's OK to let one go every once in a while because I knew my team had my back on the bats and defensively, so I wasn't really worried."
After several delays throughout the week, four teams went into Saturday vying for the region title. The semifinals were played Saturday morning and afternoon, where Scott County defeated Franklin County 13-0 in five innings, and Woodford took down Paul Laurence Dunbar 8-3.
Saturday's win propelled the Cardinals into the state tournament in Owensboro where they will play either Apollo or Grayson County in the first round. For the Scott County seniors, having a top-ranked team headed to the state tournament is an accomplishment they've achieved through a single-minded focus on a common goal.
Sullivan said fellow senior Princess Valencia told the team huddle that the seniors had "seven days left in a Scott County uniform."
"I think that hits everybody super hard," Sullivan said. "I've been a Scott County Cardinal since I was in sixth grade, so it just hits hard and makes us want it that much more."