When it absolutely had to with a state championship on the line, Scott County finally earned the win over McCracken County which had eluded it all season. The Cardinals defeated the Mustangs 9-7 to conclude the Worth/KHSAA State Softball Tournament at Jack C. Fisher Park on Saturday.
Kennedy Sullivan was named Most Outstanding Player after a monstrous effort over the weekend. The sophomore pitched 39 2/3 of a possible 42 innings for the Cardinals, accumulating 59 strikeouts and eight earned runs over six games.
“We just always fought back, we never gave up, and that’s what it takes to become a state champion,” Sullivan said. She later added with a laugh, “I can’t really feel my arm right now.”
Scott County’s trek to this championship was reminiscent of its 2014 title run, when it became the first program from the 11th Region to win a state softball crown. That season, the Cardinals tore through the winner’s bracket before McCracken County — the consolation bracket winner — run-ruled them to force a do-or-die game two.
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McCracken County again came out of the consolation bracket and again won the first game, 4-2. In the opening frame of game two, the Mustangs went up 1-0 on a fielding error and looked ready to carry their winning momentum throughout.
The Cardinals answered with a run in the bottom half then took the lead in the second inning on a bases-clearing double by Hannah Davis. Sullivan added an RBI single to extend the lead to 5-1 and while McCracken County threatened, it could never get closer than two runs the rest of the way.
Jeff Portwood, Scott County’s coach, thought his team picked up its energy in the second game. He was concerned that it wouldn’t given the hot weather and the emotion of dropping their first contest of the tournament.
“I was a little bit worried about that after the first game,” Portwood said. “You drop one like that in the heat and there’s a lot of emotion going on. We regrouped ourselves and did a good job.”
McCracken County was in position to make history: no fast-pitch softball team has come back from losing in the first round to winning the championship. Male defeated McCracken County, 3-1, on Thursday. The Mustangs won seven straight games to put themselves in position, but weren’t able to close the deal. Scott County’s only two losses in the regular season were to McCracken.
“I think they were a little bit out of gas,” Scott County Coach Jeff Portwood said. “That played to our advantage.”
Box score: Scott County 9, McCracken County 7
McCracken County 4, Scott County 2: The Cardinals dropped their first game of the tournament in a game that began more than two hours after its original start time because McCracken County’s game against Madisonville in the loser’s bracket finals went 10 innings.
It was the third time this season Scott County lost to McCracken County. Kennedy Sullivan, the Cardinals’ sophomore ace, had her least effective outing of the tournament. She allowed two earned runs on six hits, but walked five and struck out only four batters.
“Once you make a mistake, it always tends to multiply,” Portwood said. “And that’s what kind of happened in the first game. We never could get our groove together.”
Box score: McCracken County 4, Scott County 2
Scott County 6, Madisonville 2: Kennedy Sullivan surrendered her first runs of the state tournament, but the Cardinals never trailed against the Maroons in the winner’s bracket finals.
Jordan Ison finished 3-for-3 with three of Scott County’s four RBI in the game. Sullivan finished with 12 strikeouts for the second straight game, giving her double-digit strikeouts in three of the Cards’ first four games in Owensboro.
Box score: Scott County 6, Madisonville 2
Madisonville scored two runs on a Hailey Rodgers single in the top of the fourth, an inning into which Sullivan took a no-hitter. The Maroons ended up getting three of their four hits in that frame.
Taylor Ricketts, who entered with six RBI in the tournament, added another via a single to center field in the bottom of the second to give Scott County a 1-0 lead. The Cards added two more in the third, and an additional three in the fifth.
Most Outstanding Player—Kennedy Sullivan, Scott County
Others—Hannah Davis, Scott County; Taylor Ricketts, Scott County; Tori Humphrey, McCracken County; Hannah Ridolfi, McCracken County; Bailey Vick, McCracken County; Morgan McElroy, Madisonville; Hailey Rodgers, Madisonville; Lauren Johnson, Daviess County; Kaylee Ranburger, Daviess County; Bayleigh Masterson, Male; Montana Fouts, East Carter; Kaci Goedde, Central Hardin; Allison Schubert, East Jessamine