Top-seeded Central Hardin met with two-seeded Elizabethtown for the 17th District softball championship Thursday evening, with the Bruins taking their third win on the season over the Panthers 2-0.
The low-scoring affair was dominated by defense, with both teams combining for just six hits.
“That’s been one of our main focuses all year, pitching and defense,” Central Hardin head coach Jamie Goodman said. “I’m a true believer in pitching and defense wins championships and tonight was one of those things.”
Central Hardin’s Emma Watkins faced off against E’town’s Taytum Spiers in a pitching duel.
The hurlers were on point in the final, with the pair combining for 17 strikeouts.
Watkins kept the shutout on just two hits given up and eight Ks, while Spiers allowed just one earned run on four hits and had nine Ks.
“With Taytum (Spiers) over there, you know you’re not going to get a lot of opportunities to score,” Goodman said. “We had a couple and took advantage of them, and then just relied on defense and pitching.”
When given scoring opportunities, the Bruins took advantage.
Payton Campbell got them started with a well-placed bunt in the bottom of the fourth to bring home Avery Strader.
Two at-bats later, Jenna Smith delivered a looping single to center to bring Campbell home and put the Bruins up 2-0.
“They had a timely hit there on a good pitch from Taytum,” Elizabethtown head coach Jimmy Schmidt said. “They bunted one and we didn’t catch it or throw it away, it was a combination of both. That stuff happens. These kids are playing in games they’ve never played in before. That pressure and stuff like that is good for them though.”
After the two quick runs, Central just had to buckle down on defense and the district title was theirs. The Bruins have won 11 of the last 13 district titles.
They did just that, with Watkins allowing E’town to collect just two total bases over the rest of the game.
“She’s great, she did a fabulous job,” Goodman said of Watkins. “We knew it’d be a battle coming in, every time we face them it’s a battle, and hats off to them they played a heck of a game, too. It’s one of those games where you hate for somebody to lose because both teams played well.”
“I thought it was a total team effort,” Goodman added. “Our dugout, defense, everybody was up. We were in the game, and that’s what it takes this time of year.”
Central Hardin had four different batter’s tally a hit Thursday, with Allie Link, Alyssa Gent, Strader and Smith all getting one each.
Alyssa Philpot and Kylie McKinney had E’town’s hits.
Central Hardin (29-8) and Elizabethtown (20-10) both move on to the 5th Region tournament, with Elizabethtown facing Bethlehem at 11 a.m. EST today, while Central Hardin takes on Thomas Nelson at 4 p.m. EST the same day.
Cole Vance can be reached at 270-505-1425 or email@example.com.
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