Seemingly feeling no pressure at all, No. 1 Male kept its record perfect at 37-0 with a perfect game from pitcher Kelsie Houchens as the Bulldogs defeated Boyle County 4-0 Friday in the KHSAA State Softball Tournament quarterfinals at the University of Kentucky’s John Cropp Stadium.
Houchens struck out 10 while allowing no runs, no hits, no walks with no errors for the Bulldogs, who advanced to face Clay County on Saturday in a noon semifinal. It was the second perfect game of her career and the second in Friday’s quarterfinals. Central Hardin’s Kaci Goedde did the same in a six-inning, 12-0 run-rule win over Pendleton County in the day’s first game.
“Our shortstop Lauren Pelton, she was like ‘Kelsie, you have a perf …’ And I was like, ‘No! Don’t tell me. Don’t tell me,” Houchens said, smiling. “I just knew I had to go out there and compete.”
Boyle County pitcher Katy Grace Chadwell had been locked in with Houchens pitch for pitch with her own no-hitter through three innings. But the Bulldogs had new answers on their second trip through the order.
Male’s Madison McCoy led off the fourth with a single and Megan Konermann followed with a double to put runners at second and third. Chadwell buckled down and got a strikeout and a pop-out from the next two hitters and had a 2-2 count on Jaelyn Sanders when the Bulldogs’ center fielder connected. Sanders’ blast cleared the right-field fence for a three-run homer.
“Jae puts a great swing on it. I think the ball just landed,” Male Coach Josh Bloomer said. “Our kids are just not scared to lose. They were loose. They were ready to go. Two weeks off is a long time to go without seeing live action and Chadwell’s really good.”
Male scored again in the sixth. Konermann’s second double set up an RBI single by Lilly Davis to make it 4-0.
Houchens was 17-0 with a 0.71 ERA during the regular season, according to stats available via MaxPreps.com.
“I keep trying to tell people, man. That kid is an absolute stud. People are missing the boat,” Bloomer said. “That kid is legit. People want to get caught up in throwing 65-66 (mph). That kid just cut through a really good offense. She hasn’t given up a run in the postseason. There are really good pitchers in the state. I’m going to take that kid to make my lineup out every single night of the week and twice on Sunday.”
He’ll hope to do it twice on Saturday as the finals has been moved up from its planned Sunday timeslot to 6 p.m. Saturday because of concerns about expected storms.
Male has appeared in the state tournament six times with its best finish coming in 2013 as runner-up to Madisonville. The Bulldogs are trying to become only the second team ever to win the state title undefeated and join 2013’s Greenwood, which went 44-0.
Semifinals: Male vs. Clay County, noon; Warren East vs. Central Hardin, 2:45 p.m.
Championship: Semifinal winners, 6 p.m.