|Highlands handles GRC to open state tournament|
|PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Highlands senior Shelby Graybill takes a swing against George Rogers Clark in the state tournament in Owensboro on Thursday. Graybill had two hits as Highlands won 5-1.|
Like two years ago, the Highlands Ladybirds (25-10 overall) opened the state tournament with a 5-1 victory over the 10th Region champion George Rogers Clark Lady Cardinals (19-15) at Jack C. Fisher Park in Owensboro. Two years ago, Highlands beat Estill County, 4-1 to open the state tournament for the two lone state tournament wins in school history.
Highlands struggled against GRC freshman pitcher Courtney Miles in the first go-round through the line-up putting two runners on base on an error and hit batter. But after that, the Highlands bats came alive for 13 hits as five players had two each compared to just three for the Lady Cardinals.
The hitting came everywhere in the line-up. Haley Coffey, Shelby Graybill, Brennah Dutcher, Rachel Gabbard and Brooke Dill had two hits each. Haley Coffey scored twice and sister Mogan Coffey had two runs batted in. Haley Coffey had a triple and Gabbard doubled.
Senior Bailey Spencer again pitched another good game striking out six and walking two. Highlands made just one error behind her compared to two for GRC.
Highlands dented the scoreboard first in the third inning. Haley Coffey tripled with one out and scored when Morgan Coffey grounded out to short.
GRC came back to tie the game in the bottom of the inning. Claire Bradenburg led off the inning with a single and moved to second when Erin Carrus singled before Lanee Crowe ran for Carrus. Madison Norton sacrifice bunted them up a base.
But Spencer got out of the inning allowing just one run following a double play. Megan Terrell grounded out to Gabbard at second allowing Bradenburg to score. But Dutcher threw to Barth at third nailing Crowe to end the inning.
But the Ladybirds took the lead for good in the top of the fifth. Dill singled and Haley Coffey singled Dill to second base. The two moved up a base on a GRC throwing error. Dill then scored when Morgan Coffey hit a sacrifice fly to left field. Graybill then singled in Haley Coffey to put Highlands up 3-1.
Highlands added two more insurance runs in the seventh inning. Graybill and Dutcher led off with consecutive singles and Gabbard doubled in Graybill. Gabbard then scored when Barth singled.
Highlands will not be one of the four teams to go 0-for-2 in the double-elimination tournament. But the next challenge is to avoid the fate of two years ago when the Ladybirds struggled on the second day of the tournament losing 12-2 to Owensboro Apollo and 12-0 to Ashland Blazer in five innings each.
The Ladybirds take on the Daviess County Lady Panthers (33-7) from the 3rd Region on Friday at 10 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. The winner plays at 4 p.m. Friday and the loser will play at 2 p.m. Highlands would have to win three games to advance to Saturday with a loss in this game.
Softball Box Score: R H E
Highlands (25-10) 001 020 2 - 5 12 1
GRC (19-15) 001 070 0 - 1 3 2
Highlands pitching line:
Bailey Spencer (23-10), Complete game, six strikeouts, three hits, two walks, one earned run.
Highlands leading hitters:
Haley Coffey, 2-for-4, triple, two runs scored.
Shelby Graybill, 2-for-4, one run batted in, run scored.
Brennah Dutcher, 2-for-4.
Rachel Gabbard, 2-for-4, double, one RBI.
Brooke Dill, 2-for-3, one run scored.
Morgan Coffey, two RBI.
2016 State Softball Schedule (Double Elimination):
Jack C. Fisher State Park, Owensboro:
Thursday, June 9:
Madisonville-North Hopkins 11, Johnson Central 0
East Jessamine 7, East Carter 4
Highlands 5, George Rogers Clark 1
Daviess County 5, Central Hardin 1
North Laurel 10, Estill County 5
Louisville Male 3, McCracken County 1
Louisville Holy Cross 10, Anderson County 4
Scott County 13, South Warren 4
Friday, June 10:
Winner's Bracket at 10 a.m.:
Madisonville-North Hopkins (34-3) vs. East Jessamine (37-4)
Highlands (25-10) vs. Daviess County (33-7)
North Laurel (24-12) vs. Louisville Male (30-8)
Louisville Holy Cross (29-10-1) vs. Scott County (32-2)
Loser's Bracket at Noon:
Johnson Central (26-15) vs. East Carter (34-1)
George Rogers Clark (19-15) vs. Central Hardin (31-9)
Estill County (22-12) vs. McCracken County (36-3)
Anderson County (26-10) vs. South Warren (25-14)