High School Sports

From stellar to spoilers, state softball event has it all

The state softball tournament has teams with top-notch résumés, like top-ranked Ballard with its 21 straight victories and its unblemished record against Kentucky opponents.

The tournament has its teams with rich pedigrees, like fourth-ranked Owensboro Catholic, which has won five state titles and is making its state-record 14th appearance at the event.

The tournament has its power hitters and its aces, like No. 3 Allen County-Scottsville's Kelsi Pardue, who has allowed just 10 earned runs in 208 innings while striking out 350. Her Patriots, who have 23 shutouts, tops among the tournament teams, and have won 12 straight games.

The tournament also has plenty of dark-horse teams that could play the spoiler come Saturday's championship game.

In all, the field has three teams ranked in the top four of the state coaches' top 25 poll and it also has several other top-25 teams looking to make a move in the double-elimination tournament at Jack Fisher Park in Owensboro.

Those other ranked teams are No. 11 Central Hardin, No. 12 Lafayette, No. 13 North Laurel, which is making its fifth straight trip, No. 16 Pleasure Ridge Park, No. 17 Ashland Blazer and No. 24 Montgomery County.

"We'd love to be one of those teams that surprises some people, sneaks up on some teams," Lafayette Coach Dana Taylor said this week.

The Generals got a tough draw out of the gate on Thursday when they meet the No. 4 Lady Aces, who have won 12 straight. Other competitive first-round matchups include PRP versus Montgomery County and North Laurel taking on Central Hardin.

This year's tournament also features several first-timers who would like to start some state tournament traditions of their own in Magoffin County, Letcher County Central, East Jessamine and Walton-Verona.

The tournament has had a small schedule tweak this year, with KHSAA officials expanding the event to three days and starting it on Thursday. The title game will be played Saturday at 2 p.m. Central time.

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