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The Lady Hornets did something no other fast-pitch team from HCHS ever has when they claimed the 3rd Region runner-up trophy at Morgantown Tuesday. Hancock County fell 12-2 to Daviess County in the tournament finals.
“I knew we needed to play our best game because Daviess is a top-10 team in the state for a reason. It’s murderers’ row at the top of their order,” HCHS coach Dwayne Wroe said. “But I couldn’t be more proud. They girls did something that’s never been done at Hancock County in fast-pitch.”
The Lady Panthers took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning on an RBI double by Jessie Daniels. The Lady Hornets answered back immediately.
Ella Staples thrilled the Hancock County crowd when she took a cut at an off-speed offering from DCHS pitcher Raylee Roby. Staples connected and sent the ball over the wall in center-field for a home run.
Hancock pitcher Lily Roberts and the Hornet defense shut out the Lady Panther offense through the next two frames. The girls took the led in the bottom of the third.
Baylee Estes laid down a bunt and beat out the throw by Panther catcher Millie Roberts. Braley Roberts followed with a base hit to advance Estes and Lily Roberts knocked her home with a single to left, giving Hancock County a 2-1 lead.
Daviess County (31-6) got going at the plate in the fourth inning when Hattie Newman and Daniels crushed home runs. When the frame ended the lead for DCHS was 7-2.
The Lady Hornets were contained offensively the rest of the way, while the champs added insurance runs in the sixth and seventh innings to close out the game.
Lily Roberts absorbed the loss on the mound, allowing 12 runs (10 earned) on 14 hits, with seven Ks and four walks over seven complete innings.
Roby allowed two runs on five hits, with 14 Ks and one walk.
Staples was 2 for 3 at the plate with the homer and one RBI. Lily Roberts was 1 for 2 with one RBI, Estes was 1 for 2 with a run scored and Braley Roberts was 1 for 4.
Hattie Newman and Abby Newman had three hits each for DCHS.
“Our two seniors, Braley Roberts and Haley Wigginton, will be missed. I can’t put into words what they’ve meant to this program,” coach Wroe said.
Hancock County advanced to the title game by knocking off Owensboro Catholic in the semifinals. The Lady Hornets won 5-3 over the Lady Aces.
“We came together at the right time and won some big ball games down the stretch. This was a great win for the team,” Wroe said.
Kylie Westerfield ripped a double in the first frame and later scored on a bases loaded walk drawn by Adi Hurst. Hancock’s 1-0 lead was short-lived, as Catholic quickly countered by plating two runs in the second.
Lily Roberts and the HCHS defense held the Aces at bay for two innings until they scored again in the fifth. Catholic’s 3-1 lead did not last long.
Lily led off the fifth with a base on balls and Ella House delivered a double to get the rally started. With runners at second and third bases, Brooke Toler connected for a base hit that brought home pinch runner Layni Roberts.
Haley Wigginton later drew a bases loaded walk to score House and the game was tied at 3-3. Toler scored on a defensive error and Emmalynn Higdon came home on a wild pitch to give the girls a 5-3 advantage.
The Lady Aces advanced runners into scoring position over the final two frames, but it wasn’t enough. Lily Roberts got the final out in the sixth on a strike out and Kylie Westerfield made all three outs in the seventh on fly balls to right field.
It was a huge win for the ladies over Catholic and the team rightfully celebrated on the field.
Lily earned the win on the mound. She allowed three runs (one earned) on 11 hits, with four Ks and now walks. Hadley Phelps took the loss for DCHS.
House was 2 for 3 at the plate with a double and one run scored, and Toler was 1 for 1 with a run and one RBI. Westerfield was 1 for 2 with a double and a run, and Staples was 1 for 3. Hurst, Wigginton and Estes all went 0 for 2 with one RBI each. Higdon was 0 for 1 with two walks and a run scored.
Emmalynn Higdon hit a home run and Ella House knocked in three runs during an 8-1 win for Hancock County over Whitesville Trinity in an opening round game of the regional tourney Saturday.
Higdon gave the girls a 1-0 led with a solo home run in the second inning, while Lily and her defense did a job throughout.
Estes got a 1-out single in the fifth then stole second base. House knocked in her first run with a single and Westerfield and Staples followed with base hits to give HCHS a 3-0 lead.
The Hornets batted around the lineup in the sixth, plating five runs and blowing the game wide open. A 2-run hit by House and an RBI double by Staples highlighted the inning.
Trinity scored their lone run in the seventh before House recorded the final out for the Lady Hornets.
Lily got the win, allowing one run on eight hits, with six Ks and two walks over seven innings.
Higdon was 2 for 3 with the homer and one RBI, and House was 2 for 4 with three RBI. Staples was 2 for 3 with a double and one RBI, Estes was 2 for 3 with one RBI, Toler was 2 for 3, Westerfield was 2 for 4 with one RBI, Lily Roberts was 1 for 4. Wigginton and Layni Roberts scored one run each.
Setting a standard
The Lady Hornets softball program has now produced 20+ wins in six consecutive seasons, setting the benchmark for sports teams at HCHS.
“We take pride in that,” Wroe said. “We want to set the standard at the school and we’ve been pretty successful the last few years. Hopefully that will carry over and you can’t replace the experience our young kids got playing in this tournament. This was a pretty big deal and I can’t thank the community enough for all the support they’ve given us.”
By Steve Wimmer