SOFTBALL: Lady Hawks show the power of the underdog

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By Nathaniel Bryan

 Brigitte Skaggs hit her spots Tuesday night at Elizabethtown. Courtney Johnson just hit the ball.

Together, the LaRue County sophomores helped the surging Lady Hawks back to the .500 mark with a 5-2 win over the host Lady Panthers.

LaRue County (5-5), which has won 4-of-5, matched its second-best start through 10 games in the last eight seasons. But that didn't matter much last season as the Lady Hawks started off 3-7 before rallying to earn a berth in the 5th Region Tournament title game.

“I'm glad we are where we're at. This gives us a lot of confidence going into Thursday,” Skaggs said in reference the Lady Hawks' showdown with 14th-ranked Green County. “But it's still better than last season. We had a pretty bad start last year.”

Johnson didn't get off to the best start Tuesday, but it was still fairly solid. She had a groundout to move a runner into scoring position in the first inning, had a RBI groundout in the third to put LaRue County up 2-0, knocked in two more runs on a hit (and subsequent fielding error) on a single to center in the fifth and walked and stole second with two outs in the seventh.

“I think it's just my mental intake,” Johnson said. “When you get up to the plate, you always want to do well. But if you get up there thinking what if you don't get a hit, then you won't.”

She wasn't the only one who hit the ball as five teammates had one hit each. Senior second baseman Brittany Enlow went 1-for-3 with an RBI triple and scored twice, while senior shortstop Megan Smith went 1-for-4 and scored once. Junior right fielder Kayla Skaggs went 1-for-2 with a stolen base, senior first baseman Bethany Skaggs went 1-for-3 and Brigitte Skaggs helped herself by going 1-for-3 with an RBI double.

“We’re showing the power of the underdog,” Johnson said. “It's about fighting back and showing that we can still do it.”

Meanwhile, Brigitte Skaggs (2-3) kept Elizabethtown (1-6) from doing much of anything. She took a two-hit shutout into the bottom of the seventh, giving up a single to center to senior Mary Beth Russell in the fourth and a single to left by junior center fielder Allison Sherrard in the sixth.

“We didn't hit the ball all game long,” said third-year Elizabethtown coach Matt Mardis. “We swung at balls out of the zone and we weren't aggressive at the plate. And after seeing Victoria (Decker) of Grayson County the night before, we had a lot longer to look at the ball tonight. ... But she still threw well. She hit her spots and we did nothing to make her change.”

Brigitte Skaggs finished her complete game with a three-strikeout, one-walk, three-hitter.

“She’s got good movement,” said second-year LaRue County coach Aaron Howell. “She moved it around in the box, which kept them off-balance. The defense played well for the most part and she trusted them. That team concept is what you need to win.”

Skaggs was three outs away from the shutout before Elizabethtown made things interesting in the bottom of the seventh. Senior catcher Sydney Herzog led off with a single and moved to second as LaRue County committed an error on a bunt by seventh-grade first baseman Callie Sondergard. Following a timeout, seventh-grade third baseman Taylor Thomas' sacrifice bunt moved runners to third and second.

Herzog scored on a passed ball and Sondergard scored two batters later on seventh-grade designated hitter Sara Beth Hundley's groundout to short. Skaggs then ended the game with a strikeout.

“Finishing a game when we have the lead is an issue right now because we let them hang around,” Howell said. “But at the same time, give E’town some credit because they didn't quit.”