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PREP SOFTBALL: McGuffin, Central Hardin roll past North Hardin (04/24)

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By Nathaniel Bryan

North Hardin standout sophomore pitcher Bailey Blair picked on the bottom of the lineup against the visiting Central Hardin Lady Bruins on Tuesday.

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But the top of the lineup, namely fellow sophomore Kelsey McGuffin, got its licks in against the Trojans.

McGuffin, the area’s home run leader, went 3-for-4 with two doubles and a long two-run homer to left field as the 21st-ranked Lady Bruins used a seven-run fourth inning to help them pull away for a 10-0 win over their 17th District rival.

McGuffin, who hits third in the lineup, also had three hits Monday when Central Hardin beat Meade County.

“I’m just making good swings on good pitches,” said McGuffin, who also leads the area in batting average and RBIs. “But everyone has their slumps and everyone has their ups.”

Things are definitely looking up, for the top of the lineup at least, for the hot-hitting Lady Bruins. Central Hardin (19-3, 3-0 district) broke double digits in runs for the seventh time in its 10-game win streak.

Senior leadoff hitter Jordan Lasley scored twice and went 2-for-4 with an RBI. No. 2 hitter Aubree Muse, an eighth-grade third baseman who was playing her first game against her former team, scored once and went 2-for-4 with an RBI as Central Hardin’s first three hitters were a combined 7-for-12 with five runs scored and four RBIs.

Central Hardin’s 4-9 hitters (including one substitute) were 4-for-20 with 10 strikeouts against Blair, the area’s strikeout leader who allowed just three earned runs.

“We helped them out with errors at the wrong time and when you strike out 10, you shouldn’t lose 10-0,” said North Hardin coach Donnie Baker. “That game would have been completely different if we just make the routine plays. But, we still get to play them again.”

It’s doubtful North Hardin would want to relive a certain play again as Lasley scored the first run on a controversial play.

Lasley hit a two-out single to right field in the third inning and was awarded second base on a defensive interference. However, the ruling was not made clear on the field. Lasley headed toward second while North Hardin thought it could tag her out at second. Thinking they had tagged out Lasley for the final out, the Trojans started running off the field. But the ball was not ruled dead and Lasley was waved around. By the time she scored, there wasn’t anyone to make a play on her at the plate.

“I saw them coming off the field and I looked back and saw there was no time called, so I kept running,” Lasley said. “I think it got us going. It gave us some confidence, especially since we didn’t do too well in the first two innings.”

The run might have changed the complexion of the game, but statistically, it mattered little when Central Hardin broke the game open the next inning.

Junior April Pence smacked a leadoff double and one strikeout later, senior Baylee Sullivan walked and junior Amber Hiller plated Pence with a single to make it 2-0. Another strikeout later, the Lady Bruins scored two runs when North Hardin dropped a fly ball hit by Central Hardin junior pitcher Jessica Nall (9-2). Lasley followed with an RBI single to make it 5-0 and prompt Baker to call a mound meeting.

Muse kept the momentum going with an RBI single and McGuffin made it 8-0 with her eighth homer of the season.

“I’m not really for sure how many that was. I don’t keep track,” said McGuffin, whose team has hit an area-best 22 homers. “Our hitting was very contagious. Once we got in a groove, it just picked up. Once we got J-Lo’s (Lasley) hit, it fell in to place.”

Thanks to another strong performance from Nall, not much fell into place for North Hardin (10-13, 3-1). Nall struck out eight, walked one and took a no-hitter into the fourth inning. North Hardin freshman catcher Shelby Peace broke up the no-hitter with a standup double in the fourth, while Blair added a single in the seventh.

“I’m just glad we won,” Nall said. “I wish I would have gotten the ball down more, but they can hit the ball.”

Lasley said Nall should have been pleased with her performance.

“She did get the ball up, but our defense had her back,” said Lasley, whose defense was error free for the fourth time in five games. “She still got some ground balls and we made the plays behind her.”

CENTRAL HARDIN 10, NORTH HARDIN 0

                                              R  H  E

Central Hardin    001   700    2   1011  0

North Hardin      000   000    0    0  2  2

Jessica Nall and Amanda Shackelford. Bailey Blair and Shelby Peace. WP: Nall (9-2). LP: Blair. 2B: Shelby Maggard (CH), Kelsey McGuffin (CH) 2, Peace (NH), April Pence (CH). HR: McGuffin (CH).

UP NEXT: Central Hardin hosts Fort Knox at 5:30 p.m. Thursday and Elizabethtown at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. North Hardin plays at Bardstown Bethlehem at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

Nathaniel Bryancan be reached at (270) 505-1758 or nbryan@thenewsenterprise.com.