High School Baseball

Henry Clay draws LexCath in opener

When Henry Clay baseball coach Herb Hammond was late arriving for the 11th Region tournament draw on Saturday, Lexington Catholic Coach Kevin Clary called him to see if he was on his way.

Clary kidded Hammond that the meeting for the "Henry Clay Invitational" couldn't start without him.

After No. 16 Henry Clay drew No. 9 Lexington Catholic in the first round of the tournament, Hammond had a light-hearted reaction.

"If this was the Henry Clay Invitational, we wouldn't be playing Lexington Catholic in the first game," Hammond said with a laugh.

The flip side is true, too. The defending region champion Knights would just as soon not play Henry Clay right off the bat.

Both teams will probably have to use their top pitchers, which will make for a tough road to the finals.

"A very tough draw," Clary said. "It's going to be a big challenge for us. Henry Clay is well-coached, a great program, and we have the ultimate respect for them."

The Henry Clay-Lexington Catholic winner will probably face No. 11 Franklin County and its ace, Sean Thompson, in the semifinals.

If the bracket plays out according to the ratings, No. 1 Lexington Christian will be waiting in the finals.

"The thing is, nine out of 10 years, you have to beat two Lexington teams to win the region," Hammond said. "And that's never easy."

A Lexington team has won the region 14 of the past 15 years. (Franklin County won it in 2001.) The region championship game has matched two Lexington teams 12 times in the past 15 years.

The 11th Region champ will advance to play the 12th Region champ in a best-of-three semi-state at Henry Clay next week.