If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

After looking to the one-two punch of pitchers Emma Watkins and Jenna Smith in the Bruins’ semi-final game against Taylor County, Central Hardin decided to run it back Wednesday and go with the pair on the mound once more, this time in the 5th Region softball final.

The two pulled through again for Central to win 4-1 over Green County, with Emma Watkins starting the evening on the bump.

“I told Emma before the game, you go as hard as you can go, and after that we’ll put Jenna in if we need to,” Central Hardin head coach Jamie Goodman said.

Watkins threw for 5.1 innings while giving up one unearned run on six hits and four Ks.

Just like in her semi-final performance, she faced a bit of adversity at the start.

The sophomore saw the first score of the game go Green County’s way in the top of the second after an error committed by her infield.

That didn’t hold her up though, as Watkins would turn up the heat and keep the Dragons scoreless through the next five innings.

“She went as hard as she could go, and I thought it was time to see a little change, and Jenna came in and did her job,” Goodman said.

Again, like the semi-final game, Smith was thrown into a jam right when she took her spot in the circle.

And again, like the semi-final, she got right out of it.

The junior came in with one out and two on base and immediately got a ground out to ease the nerves.

The right hander then struck out the third Green County batter in a seven pitch battle to get out of the inning.

Smith tossed for 1.2 innings with just one hit allowed and one strikeout, holding the Dragons scoreless in her time on the rubber.

Watkins was credited with the win, making her record 12-6-1 on the season.

The performances at the plate were a big part of the Bruins’ championship win as well.

“We got a few timely hits, I thought we left a few, but again, I’m kinda greedy,” Goodman said. “Like I said before, this time of year, you just got to survive and advance.”

A clutch triple from Lynlee Britain saw Central reclaim the lead 2-1 in the bottom of the second, followed by a well-hit single from Allie Link to drive in a third run just one at-bat l ater.

Adison Carter knocked a single out to left in the sixth inning to bring home the Bruins’ fourth and final run and put the game just out of reach of the Dragons.

Alanna Jones and Gent led the way at the plate with two hits apiece, while Avery Strader, Claire Boggs, Britain, Link and Carter each had one.

Central Hardin had not won the 5th Region title since 2019, and with their win Wednesday, the Bruins advance to the state tournament.

“It was one of our goals,” Goodman said of making it to state. “That was a big goal for us this year, we wanted to get back to Lexington, so I’m happy as can be.”

Goodman and his crew are tabbed to face the winner of the 10th Region Championship between Montgomery County (32-5) and Harrison County (30-7). Those teams play on Thursday night.

Central Hardin (32-8-1) plays one of those two at 6 p.m. June 2 at the John Cropp Stadium in Lexington.

“I’m going to let them enjoy the trip, then we’re going to go out and try and win that thing,” Goodman said.

Cole Vance can be reached at 270-505-1425 or cvance@thenewsenterprise.com.

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