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SOFTBALL: LaRue rolls past John Hardin

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By Ryan O'Gara, Landmark News Service

Peyton Gardner enjoys the rare occasions she gets to see left-handed pitching, and she took full advantage Tuesday evening against visiting 5th Region rival John Hardin.

The left-handed hitting Gardner fell a home run short of the cycle and drove in four runs to lead the LaRue County Lady Hawks past the Lady Bulldogs, 15-0 in four innings.

Gardner, a senior center fielder, laced a three-run double to left-center field in the fourth to enforce the mercy rule.

“I like it,” Gardner said of facing left-handed pitching. “I guess I can turn on the ball more, I don’t know. But you don’t get to see it very often.”

LaRue County (7-2) scored in every inning and rode the arm of senior Brigitte Skaggs, who tossed all four innings and allowed just one hit to pick up the win.

Despite racking up 12 hits, it wasn’t exactly the type of offensive performance LaRue County coach Aaron Howell was hoping for, but the Lady Hawks took advantage of John Hardin’s four errors to maximize the damage.

“We took what their defense gave us,” Howell said. “A win is a win and we’ll take it. We’re more worried about being prepared for Green County on Thursday.”

After scoring an unearned run in the first inning on senior Courtney Johnson’s single, the Lady Hawks responded with eight runs in the second.

Junior Trishtian Cruise doubled to lead off the inning and scored on sophomore Delany Eastridge’s single up the middle. After junior Emillee Cundiff singled, Gardner drove home Eastridge with a single and Cundiff came around on a two-base error.

Unfortunately for the Lady Bulldogs (3-10), that was just the beginning of the miscues. Junior Sierra Mullins drove in another run on a bunt single before John Hardin made errors in the outfield on three of the next five hitters.

“We were in the game in the first couple innings, but (missing) those routine pop-ups will kill you every time,” said John Hardin coach Deron Bell. “We compound an error with another error to give up two or three runs, and that’s been the story all season. We get two outs and then give up two or three runs. It’s like we lose focus.”

Gardner tripled down the right-field line with one out in the third and scored on Skaggs’ sacrifice fly, and Mullins scored on a wild pitch to make it 11-0 after three innings.

“We’re just making the most of what we had,” Gardner said. “We just have to keep getting on base, whether it’s a walk or a hit or whatever it is to keep putting runs on the board.”

Skaggs, who struck out eight, ran into her first jam in the fourth inning after retiring the side in order in each of the first three.

John Hardin freshman Ally Furnish walked to lead off the frame, and then junior Melia Kadetz delivered the Lady Bulldogs’ first hit with a line-drive single to center. After a walk to junior Taylor Miller to load the bases, Skaggs bore down with a strikeout and flyout.

“Everybody has a spell they’ll go through, but she settled back down and shut the door on them, even with the bases loaded,” Howell said. “I was happy to see that.”

Cruise and sophomore Jill Hughes singled to begin the bottom of the fourth and Eastridge and Cundiff were hit by pitches to set the table for Gardner’s game-ending double.

The Lady Hawks open 18th District play with a trip to Green County (7-2), mindful that their hitting can improve but pleased with their overall performance.

“We know we need to hit better,” Gardner said. “Our defense is still doing really well, but we just have to work on our hitting, which I’m sure we’ll do at practice tomorrow.”

LARUE COUNTY 15, JOHN HARDIN 0

                                              R  H  E

John Hardin       000      0          0  1  5

LaRue County    182      4         1512  0

Taylor Miller and Melodi Haught. Brigitte Skaggs and Sierra Mullins. WP: Skaggs. LP: Miller. 2B: Peyton Gardner (LC), Trishtian Cruise (LC). 3B: Gardner (LC).

UP NEXT: LaRue County plays at Green County at 6 p.m. Thursday. John Hardin hosts Central Hardin at 6 p.m. Thursday.