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PREP SOFTBALL: Taylor falls in region quarters

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By Josh Claywell

 

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For the second time this season against the Green County Dragons, the Taylor County Lady Cardinals dug themselves a big hole.

And for the second time this year, the Lady Cards nearly climbed all the way back.

They just ran out of time Monday afternoon at Marion County.

Taylor County whittled an eight-run deficit to just two in the seventh inning, but Green County’s Abigail Keltner induced a lineout to secure the Dragons’ 9-7 win over the Lady Cards in the 5th Region Softball Tournament quarterfinals.

“It was very exciting,” Taylor County senior Kenzie Carney said. “We broke that zero on the board and then we kept adding more and kept getting more exciting. I don’t think we gave up; we just ran out of time, really.”

This game was eerily similar to the first meeting between the teams, in which Green County jumped out to a 9-0 lead only to hang on for a 9-6 victory on May 4.

The Dragons led 8-0 through four innings Monday, but the Lady Cards began chipping away at the lead. Freshman Avery Smith hit a two-run double and sophomore Addie Westbrook followed with a run-scoring double to make it 8-3.

Green County scored once in its half of the fifth, but Taylor County was back at it in the sixth. Junior Kailey Thompson doubled to score junior Mariah Cox, sophomore Raegan Mardis singled to drive in Veach and Smith lifted a sacrifice fly to plate Thompson and make it 9-6.

“Our dugout was a big part of this game,” Taylor County senior Sydnee Beard said. “They never stopped, and we kept up the intensity inside the dugout. Our hitters knew that Abigail Keltner was hittable and we knew what we could do against her.”

But time was becoming a factor, and the Lady Cards were short on it.

Sophomore Autumn Henderson doubled and then scored on a one-out groundout by Cox, but Keltner got the next batter out to end the game.

Despite coming up just short, coach Neil Sanders told his players he was proud of the determination they played with after falling behind.

“Anytime you’re in a win-or-go-home situation, all you can ask of your team is effort and resiliency and fight and grit. We showed all those things, we just came up too short,” he said. “We tried to play catch up as best we could and got it all the way to two.

“They can swing it and they’ve got a very potent offense. We didn’t feel like hits beat us today as much as we helped them and gave them runs. It’s been one of those seasons where it’s been two steps forward, one step back. We’ve been in tight ball games and we’ve played a heckuva schedule. It’s better prepared us and that’s the only way I know to do it. I’m proud of this group for that.”

The Lady Cards finish the year with a 19-13 record and will have to replace four seniors – Beard, Carney, Veach and Sarah Botkin – next season.

Sanders said their contributions to the program couldn’t be understated.

“We didn’t have the results that we always wanted. But with this group, you couldn’t ask for more,” he said. “Beth Veach is a four-year starter for us at catcher. She’s beat and banged up with several injuries. She’s just a warrior and she’s shown grit. Sydnee Beard and Kinzey Carney have come back after injuries. Sarah Botkin was out for a month at the start of the season with a health issue. So they’ve all showed resiliency and came back and fought.

“Bottom line is they leave here knowing how to deal with adversity, and they leave here knowing what it means to have ‘Taylor’ on their chest for softball.”

 

Marion County 3, Taylor County 0

Marion County sophomore Haley Mattingly threw a complete game two-hit shutout as the Lady Knights beat Taylor County in last Thursday’s 20th District Softball Tournament championship game.

The Lady Cardinals (19-12) never could get on track against Mattingly, getting a double from Henderson and a single from Cox.

Mattingly – who has been a bugaboo for Taylor County since she joined Marion County’s varsity team – struck out 11, throwing first-pitch strikes to 20 of the 26 batters she faced.

The top-seeded Lady Knights scored one run in the second inning and two more in the fourth, winning for the sixth time in eight games.

 

Taylor County 4, Campbellsville 0

Henderson struck out six as the Lady Cards beat Campbellsville in the district tournament semifinals last Wednesday.

She scattered four hits and one walk in seven innings.

Botkin and Mardis each hit a run-scoring single for Taylor County, while Westbrook singled and scored once.

Eighth-grader Olivia Fields had two hits for the Lady Eagles, who finish the season with a 12-15 record.

Campbellsville will have to replace seniors Caitlin Bright and Kayla Young next year.