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Heading into the postseason, LaRue County coach Aaron Howell liked what he saw from his Lady Hawks on Thursday.
They pounded out 20 hits, scored 13 runs and backed junior pitcher Brigitte Skaggs with solid defense to roll to a 13-2 win over homestanding 5th Region rival Elizabethtown.
When the Lady Hawks are playing like this, Howell said they are a dangerous team.
“Hitting the ball as well as we did tonight has to be a big confidence booster for us going into the district tournament,” he said. “The last three losses we’ve had, we’ve played well defensively and we’ve had good pitching but we didn’t have our offense. But when we have all three of them, we win. When we put all three together it’s scary what we can do and how good we can become.”
The Lady Hawks (16-19) were more than good against the Lady Panthers (12-15).
LaRue County turned a 2-1 game into a lopsided affair, scoring five runs in the fourth inning as junior Peyton Gardner smacked a two-run single and freshman Jill Hughes and junior Courtney Johnson had back-to-back RBI singles later in the inning.
“We need to be hitting our peak at this time of the year so we can head into district on a high note,” Johnson said. “We’re definitely on our way up and will hit our peak during the district.”
Elizabethtown tried to get back in it in the bottom of the fifth. Sophomore Caitlin Thompson reached on an error and scored two batters later when eighth-grader Taylor Thomas singled to the outfield.
The Lady Panthers got no closer, however, as LaRue County tacked on three runs in the sixth and three more in the seventh to win for the fourth time in five games.
After a bumpy season, Howell said the Lady Hawks are peaking at the right time.
“I knew we would lose early in the season, but I wanted us to peak at the end of the year and I believe we are,” he said. “We’ve been beaten a few times the last couple of weeks, but we’ve played well in those games. I’m happy with where we’re at right now.”
Elizabethtown, meanwhile, sees its four-game winning streak come to an end. The Lady Panthers stranded 14 runners – including leaving the bases loaded three times – against the Lady Hawks. They had the bases loaded in the first, fifth and seventh innings.
“We’ve stranded too many base runners in the last few games,” Elizabethtown coach Matt Mardis said. “It’s very frustrating. It’s something we’ve been dealing with all year. We’ve just got to get those key hits, and that’s where we’re struggling. We can small-ball and we can get on and we can put a little pressure on the other team. We just can’t seem to get that big hit once we get there.”
Mardis said his team’s struggles can be attributed to two things: hitters not being patient enough at the plate and its youthfulness.
“You’ve got to be patient at the plate and get a pitch you can drive,” he said. “A lot of times in that situation we’ll get up there and swing at the first pitch instead of being selective. It’s fixable; you can fix it in an at-bat if you’re just patient enough to get a good pitch. But whether we’re going to be able to get there and mature this season, I don’t know.”
LARUE COUNTY 13, ELIZABETHTOWN 2
R H E
LaRue County 110 503 3 1320 2
Elizabethtown 100 010 0 210 1
Brigitte Skaggs and Sierra Mullins. Morgan White, Callie Sondergard (4) and Brooke Chancey. WP: Skaggs. LP: White. 2B: Jill Hughes (LC), Trishtian Cruse (LC), Shakeya Washington (LC), Skaggs (LC).
UP NEXT: LaRue County hosts Fort Knox at 6 p.m. today. Elizabethtown plays North Hardin at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the 17th District Tournament semifinals at Elizabethtown.
Josh Claywell can be reached at (270) 505-1752 or firstname.lastname@example.org.