Richmond—Scott County used timely hitting and yet another stellar outing from pitcher Kennedy Sullivan to win its fifth straight 11th Region softball title, knocking off Woodford County, 4-1, in the finals for the second year in a row. The win at Madison Central High school on Wednesday sends the Cardinals to next week’s KHSAA State Tournament at Jack C. Fisher Park in Owensboro.
A day after fanning 13 batters in the Cardinals’ semifinal win over Madison Southern, Sullivan struck out 12 Yellow Jackets and allowed just four hits.
“Kennedy is solid and she’s been that way all year,” said Scott County Coach Jeff Portwood. “She’s a pretty good weapon to have going into Owensboro.”
After struggling a bit in the semifinals, the Cardinals’ offense showed up early against Woodford County starter Bethany Todd, who will pitch for the University of Kentucky in 2018. Jessie Tucker doubled to the left field wall, and Hannah Davis brought her home with an RBI triple. Princess Valencia followed with a sacrifice fly to deep center for a 2-0 Scott County lead.
The Cardinals added another pair of runs in the third inning on an RBI double by Valencia that brought home Davis and Halie Fain.
Portwood said Valencia’s three RBI were the spark the Cardinals’ offense needed.
“She was huge,” he said. “We were looking to jump on them early and Princess set the tone for the rest of the game.”
The Yellow Jackets finally got to Sullivan in the bottom of the fifth when Caitlin Karo sent a bomb over the center field wall for her second hit of the game, prompting Portwood to check on his ace.
“Kennedy could have folded after the home run, but we went and took a timeout just to make sure she was okay,” he said. “She looked at me with a smile and said ‘I have this’ and then she took care of business.”
Woodford threatened again in the bottom of the seventh when Paige Hampton singled and Lindsay Anderson reached on an errant throw to first, putting runners on the corners. But Sullivan struck out pinch hitter Emily Hestand to wrap up the region title for the Cardinals.
“I feel so comfortable with Kennedy (Sullivan) out there,” Valencia said. “When she gets down in the count or a couple people get on base I’m not even worried about it because I know she’s gonna bring it to ’em.”
Woodford County finishes the season 28-3. Yellow Jackets Coach Sasha Turansky was proud of her squad for fighting back despite digging a four-run hole.
“This is the toughest team we’ve had in four years,” she said. “I told them we just ran out of time today. If there were ten innings, we’d have had a shot.”
Scott County will take on 4th Region champion South Warren in the first round of the state tournament next Thursday.
Sullivan said the Cardinals like their chances of winning the school’s first state title since 2012.
“We’ve been working for this moment for a long time now,” she said. “Those guys behind me can make big plays and we’re ready to show what we can do at state.”
Sullivan and Ison; Todd, Karo (4) and Hampton. W—Sullivan. L—Todd.
2B—SC: Tucker, Valencia. 3B—SC: Davis. HR—WC: Karo.
Records: Scott Co. 31-2, Woodford Co. 28-3.
11th Region All-Tournament Team
Taylor Slade, Western Hills
Kassi Eye, Lafayette
Melisa Nelson, Paul Dunbar
Lauren Craig, Henry Clay
Kursten Napier, Madison Southern
Courtney Patton, Madison Central
Morgan Anglin, Madison Southern
Morgan Elliston, Madison Central
Caitlin Karo, Woodford Co.
Princess Valencia, Scott Co.
Ariel Dailey, Woodford Co.
Kennedy Sullivan, Scott Co.
Kyla Simpson, Woodford Co.
Hannah Davis, Scott Co.
Jessi Tucker, Scott Co.
Josh Sullivan; 859-231-3225
Scott County vs. South Warren
What: Worth/KHSAA State Softball Tournament
When: June 9, 7 p.m. CDT
Where: Jack C. Fisher Park in Owensboro