Lexington Catholic showed it could dish out a punch as well as take one, outslugging Lexington Christian 11-4 in Monday's first round of the 43rd District softball tournament at Lafayette.
"They played very well," Coach Larry McCullough said of his Catholic team. "This was sort of like a heavyweight fight. ... But (LCA is) a good team. They're well-coached. Got some good young players. You're going to hear from them in the future.
"But our young kids are doing a phenomenal job. I'm tickled pink with them. Win or loss tonight, it's just been a major privilege to coach these girls. You see how much fun they have out here."
The Lady Knights will meet top-seeded Paul Laurence Dunbar in Tuesday's semifinals at 6 p.m. Lafayette will face Tates Creek in Tuesday's second game.
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Catholic and LCA came into Monday's game with identical 14-13 records, and having split a pair of regular-season matchups.
The Knights took charge from the get-go Monday, putting up three runs in the first inning. Cece Banks singled in the first run and Carly Biega doubled in two more.
Both teams finished with 11 hits each.
"We did (come out swinging)," said Sophie Robic, who had three hits for the winners. "We've been, as a team, in a little bit of a slump. So it was a good time to come out of it.
"We all came in pretty confident, feeling good, so we're happy."
"I think everyone just wanted to get through the first game so we could go to second," said Marina Dickinson, who contributed a run, a hit and two RBI. "Everyone was just so pumped."
When LCA came up with two runs in the top of the second inning, Catholic counterpunched with a two-run double by Dickinson in the bottom of the inning.
"I really, really feel for LCA. I really like those kids," McCullough said. "But unfortunately somebody's got to lose. That's the thing about tournaments — you either survive or you go home."
LCA had a chance for a big inning in the sixth, loading the bases with nobody out.
Natalie Henry singled in a run. But the next two batters flied to centerfielder Robic, who threw home to double up a would-be run-scorer for the third out.
"They worked hard. I don't have any regrets as far as them leaving their effort on the field," LCA Coach Greg Shewmaker said. "I think the difference in the game is Lexington Catholic got their hits in bunches and we'd get a hit and then an out, so we could never extend the inning to where we got a nice inning and scored multiple runs.
"They've been a wonderful group to coach. I pushed them hard, probably maybe harder than sometimes I should have pushed them. But I'm pleased with how they responded to the push. I never had to pull."