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DISTRICT SOFTBALL: Lady Hawks fall to Green

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by Josh Claywell

Brigitte Skaggs had the Green County Lady Dragons on the ropes.

The LaRue County freshman pitcher had struck out nine batters through 6 1/3 innings, keeping the Lady Hawks in the game against the four-time defending 18th District Softball Tournament champions at Hart County High School on Tuesday.

Then came the seventh inning.

Second-seeded LaRue County committed two costly errors – including one that led to the game-winning run – as top-seeded Green County rallied for a 3-2 victory to win its fifth consecutive district title.

With two on and one out, Green County freshman Brianna Scott hit a hotshot to LaRue County freshman third baseman Courtney Johnson. Johnson mishandled the ball, allowing Green County junior Brianna Sprowles to safely make it to third. Thinking she had a play at second, Johnson turned and threw to sophomore Kayla Skaggs.

The ball was in the dirt and bounced away from Skaggs, allowing Sprowles to score the winning run.

“I thought Courtney reacted the way I probably would have reacted at third base,” said LaRue County coach Aaron Howell. “The ball is hit there and you can feel the runner coming in behind you. The only logical play is at second base. She might have rushed the throw a little bit, but she did what she could to get an out. It got by the second baseman and the run scored, but those things happen. When you’ve got a young team, they’ll learn from those mistakes.”

Those mistakes cost LaRue County (13-20 overall) a shot at ending Green County’s district dominance, and wasted a brilliant outing by Brigitte Skaggs.

The right-hander outpitched Green County junior Kasey Estes, who threw a five-hit shutout against the Lady Hawks in a 5-0 win April 14. Skaggs allowed seven hits and two walks in 6 1/3 innings, before giving way to junior Brittany Enlow.

“I’d say I did pretty good. I can always do better. I just lost it a little bit in the seventh inning,” Skaggs said. “My focus went downhill and I got very tired. I tried to focus, but it made me tense up.”

Enlow, who had seven strikeouts to lead LaRue County to a 3-2 win over Hart County in the semifinals, said she could tell Skaggs was spent.

“She did awesome,” Enlow said. “She hit her spots really well and her rise ball was really good. She was nervous in the seventh inning. I could tell by how she was acting.”

Howell said Skaggs, who made her first start in the district tournament, has nothing to be ashamed of.

“When you’ve got a young player who hasn’t pitched before in the district tournament it gives her a lot of confidence. Especially against a good team like Green County,” Howell said. “It shows her, it shows the team and it shows everyone else that she can handle the pressure and that she do well. She did well tonight.

“She put together a consistent game and she limited her walks,” he added. “She did have the hit batter that led to a run in the sixth, but overall she pitched really well. Nine strikeouts against a good hitting team like that … that takes a lot of pressure off the defense. I’m proud of her for that.”

The Lady Hawks had plenty of chances to knock off the Lady Dragons (28-6). Enlow turned on a fastball and hit a two-run homer to give LaRue County a 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth.

The Lady Hawks could have stretched lead in the sixth. Seniors Cassady Crim and Ellen Huff led off the inning with consecutive singles. Crim, however, was called out for leading off before Estes threw a pitch. Freshman Peyton Gardner and Enlow each popped up to end the threat.

“We hit the ball. We hit it right to them at times,” Howell said. “When we did get hits, we didn’t have runners on base. We didn’t really get hits together. When we did get runners on base, things didn’t go our way.”

Green County tied the score in the bottom of the inning. Scott was hit by a pitch leading off, and eventually scored on a wild pitch after the Lady Dragons loaded the bases.

Both teams advance to next week’s 5th Region Softball Tournament, which begins Monday at LaRue County. The draw will be held Saturday morning.

n In the semifinal game against third-seeded Hart County (19-14), the Lady Hawks scored three runs in the bottom of the second and held off the Lady Raiders in a game that was suspended because of thunderstorms Monday night.

Kayla Skaggs had an RBI bunt single, eighth-grader Tristan Cruse scored on a wild pitch and Gardner drove in junior Megan Smith with a single.

The game was resumed Tuesday afternoon in the bottom of the fourth. Hart County senior Gine Nichols had an RBI triple in the top of the fourth to cut LaRue County’s lead to 3-2 before play was suspended Monday.

FINALS: GREEN COUNTY 3, LARUE COUNTY 2

                                              R  H  E

LaRue County    000   200    0    2  5  2

Green County     100   001    1    3  7  0

Briggitte Skaggs, Brittany Enlow (7) and Ellen Huff. Kasey Estes and Jade Hayes. WP: Estes. LP: Skaggs. 2B: Peyton Gardner (LC), Hayes (GC). HR: Enlow (LC).

SEMIFINALS: LARUE COUNTY 3, HART COUNTY 2

                                              R  H  E

Hart County       010   100    0    2  5  1

LaRue County    030   000     x    3  6  3

Enlow and Huff. Haley Rothman, Danielle Stinson (2) and Brooklyn Trent. WP: Enlow. LP: Rothman. 3B: Gine Nichols (HC).