Central Hardin makes its ninth appearance in the KHSAA State Softball Tournament this morning.

Opponent Pendleton County is making its maiden voyage into the affair when the first pitch is scheduled to be thrown at 10 a.m. at the Univeristy of Kentucky’s John Cropp Stadium.

“We can’t overlook anybody because everybody now is a good team,” Lady Bruins mentor Jamie Goodman said.

The LadyCats have one senior and one junior on the roster.

“They (Pendleton County) wouldn’t be there if they weren’t good,” Goodman said. “We have to come out and take care of ourselves. If we get beat doing that, then we get beat.”

Pendleton County (26-14) has won six in a row in capturing the 38th District and 10th Region championships.

Freshman Reagan Carlisle leads the squad with a .505 average in 107 at-bats. She has 45 RBIs, 11 doubles, three triples, 22 walks and 21 stolen bases in 23 attempts.

Junior Samantha Verst and sophomore Olivia Verst are both hitting .442 and have combined for 62 RBIs, 17 doubles, eight triples, 43 walks and 99 hits.

Eighth-grader Kaylee Bruener has done the majority of the work inside the circle. She has thrown 162 2/3 innings, striking out 161 and walking 43. She has a 17-11 record, a 3.83 ERA and has allowed 191 hits.

“I think we have to go out and play,” Goodman said. “If we go out and do our job and do what we’re capable of, I think we’ll come out on top.

“This team, all year long, I think they have all bought in to everything. Every player knows their number could get called at any time. They’ve been very supportive of each other. That’s what you want as a coach. You want them to be competitive, but at the same time, you want them to be a team and support each other.”

The Lady Bruins do not care who gets the credit. They just want to win.

“It’s been a very good year,” graduate said Onnica Nichols, who will play at Union College next season. “I couldn’t be happier with this journey we’ve been on. Just going this far and winning districts again and regions again.”

Peyton Beger, the 5th Region Player of the Year who is off to Georgetown College next season, leads the Lady Bruins with a .482 average. She has 66 hits (second in the state), 15 home runs (tied for sixth), 54 RBIs (tied for eighth), 53 runs (tied for 18th) and has struck out seven times in 137 at-bats.

“It’s exciting because it’s not over yet,” she said. “We’re trying to stay in it as long as we can.”

Junior Angel Ashlock has scored 57 runs, tied for eighth in the state, and has 11 home runs, along with junior Emily Bryant, tied for 25th. Nichols has 16 doubles, tied for 17th.

“This is so much fun. It’s crazy,” Nichols said. “Im so nervous, but I have to go out there and play it like a normal game. I can’t overthink it because if I do overthink it and mess up, it could be over and that’s kind of scary.

“Actually, it’s very scary.”

Graduate pitcher Kaci Goedde has strung together 19 wins, tied for 20th.

“I think it’s pretty exciting. I think we can go pretty far,” she said.

Central Hardin leads the state with 375 runs (8.93 per game), 440 hits (10.47 per game) and tied for the top with 57 home runs. Its 321 RBIs are third in the state and 83 doubles are fifth in the state.

The Lady Bruins (35-7) have won 11 in a row.

Sophomore Macey Martin is hitting .476 from the nine spot. She has 10 doubles, 10 stolen bases, 30 runs and 26 RBIs.

Ashlock’s .462 includes 22 walks, 54 hits and 37 RBIs.

Sophomore Eleecia Hager is hitting .430 with 33 RBIs and 33 runs. Nichols is hitting .395, Bryant .394 and junior Bailey Richardson has nine home runs.

“Now it’s one step at a time,” Nichols said.

Mike Mathison can be reached at 270-505-1758 or mmathison@thenewsenterprise.com.

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