High School Sports

42nd District softball: Henry Clay's small ball halts scrappy Bryan Station

Henry Clay, which beat Bryan Station 15-0 twice last month, did what it had to Monday in the opening game of the 42nd District tournament.

The Blue Devils, designated as home team on the Defenders' field, used "small ball" tactics and the one-hit pitching of Alex Cooper and Anna Hensley to scratch out a 5-0 victory.

Henry Clay (16-9) will take a three-game winning streak into Tuesday's finals against second-ranked Scott County.

"We expect to be in the championship. We expect to win," Coach George Beard said. "We're going to come out and try to win tomorrow. That's what we're here for. We're not going to lay down for anybody."

Nor did Bryan Station.

Freshman Markiara Smith held Henry Clay to six hits, including five bunts.

The Blue Devils manufactured their runs with the help of seven stolen bases, five by Beth Ann Hamilton.

Emily Miller had the lone solid hit for Henry Clay, a line drive to left field.

Cooper and Hensley were stingier than Smith, though.

Cooper gave up one hit — Kimberly Erb's solid single to center — over 31⁄3 innings.

Hensley came on for 32⁄3 innings of no-hit relief.

Hensley entered the game with a 1-0 lead and the bases loaded, thanks to Erb's single and a pair of walks.

"I was really nervous. When I came back into the dugout, I was shaking," said Hensley, a freshman. "My hands, you could see it. I was showing everyone. I was super nervous."

A base-running gaffe on a popup to second resulted in an inning-ending double play, and Station had only one base-runner the rest of the way.

"Most everything (worked). My curve was kind of shaky at first and I got it down," Hensley said. "My drop ball wasn't working, but it was spinning, so they weren't hitting it."

Hamilton scored a first-inning run by drawing a walk and stealing three bases, the last coming on the back end of a double-steal ploy.

Hamilton's bunt hit opened a three-run fourth inning.

Lauren Craig led off the fifth with a bunt and later scored on Sarah Parsons' bunt single.

"We wanted to apply pressure and make them make plays," Beard said. "Fortunately for us, they didn't make a lot of plays when they had to, so that's to our advantage."

Was this a moral victory after dropping two games to the same team by a combined 30-0?

"I hate to say there's a moral victory. But there is," said Brad White, coach of the Defenders (3-12). "These girls just got done beating Dunbar, which was a great moral victory, including a (actual) victory. But these young ladies have four more years with me. They're going to be tough. And the only way for Bryan Station, we're going to go up from there.

"Henry Clay's a great team. They put 15 on us both games before. Our team is a very young team. Not giving any excuses, but they have improved so much, and we were in the game all the way until the end. Hats off to Henry Clay. They played a great game."

Henry Clay 5, Bryan Station 0

Bryan Station 000 000 0—0 1 1

Henry Clay 100 310 x—5 6 1

Smith and Tolson; Cooper, Hensley (4) and Miller.