Taylor County and LaRue County met in the 5th Region Softball Tournament on Sunday, with the Cardinals taking the first-round win over the Hawks 9-2 at Hart County High School.
The Taylor County offense was fluent, racking up eight hits on the day.
“I just got done telling the girls that I think from top to bottom, they all put up quality at-bats,” Taylor County head coach David Bradstreet said. “When you do that, you have a chance to score, and when you do that, you have a chance to win a ball game. Definitely a great job from the first to the last.”
Lylah Curry led the way with two hits, while Riley Sprowles, Hannah Gupton, Myleah Read, Aubree Bardin, Adelyn Bradstreet and Shelby Clayton all chipped in with one hit.
“They’re a good hitting team, and they had some timely hitting,” LaRue County head coach Rocky Cundiff said. “That’s kind of been our M.O. at times this year; we just got started too little too late.”
LaRue County managed just four hits, and didn’t score its first run until the top of the fourth.
By that time, Taylor County already was up 3-0 and the Cardinals would score three more in the bottom of the fourth to put the score at 6-1.
Brylee Dobson, Brooklyn Skaggs, Paisley Williams and Payton Druen all laid down one hit each to make up the Lady Hawks’ hitting numbers.
Mistakes on defense also plagued the LaRue efforts, totaling five errors as a team on the day.
“We had some very untimely errors that stung us,” Cundiff said. “We went down three to nothing early, and we very easily could’ve been sitting there at zero-zero. It seemed like everything we hit, we hit just straight at them, and we were pretty patient at the plate, too.”
The Taylor County defensive shifts were well placed all throughout the game, with infielders seeming to be in the right place at the right time almost every time.
The Lady Cardinals’ pitching was on point as well.
“Briley Edwards came out in the circle, and she was all around the dish,” Bradstreet said. “She did a great job keeping them off balance, and the defense backed her up. Madelynn Yates came in and threw strikes, too.”
Edwards toed the rubber for Taylor County, with the starter going five innings pitched with one earned run allowed on two hits and two strikeouts.
Yates came in for relief in the last two innings, giving up one earned run on two hits and two strikeouts as well.
Isabelle Hayes pitched a complete game for LaRue County, going all six innings with five earned runs surrendered on eight hits and one strikeout.
The Lady Hawks’ roster held 14 players sophomores or younger, six of which were middle-schoolers, this season.
“We’re young and we’ll bounce back,” Cundiff said. “They grew a lot this year, and there’s nowhere to go but up from here.”
Making it to the region tournament was an accomplishment in itself for LaRue County, especially given the cards they were dealt at the start of the year.
“I feel like what we achieved this year was great. We had a couple kids decide to not come back and had two key injuries from starters, so that’s a lot of adversity,” Cundiff said. “We’re basically starting five middle schoolers, all new to varsity. I think we had a great season. Those kids are only going to grow and get better. This is just round one for them.
“I appreciate all the coaches and their help this year,” Cundiff added. “It’s hard to be away from your family so much, and there’s nothing about coaching that’s easy. I just appreciate everybody, coaches and administration, that put time in.
LaRue County finishes the season with a 23-11 record. The Lady Hawks will have to replace two seniors in Hannah Boggs and Ryan Brooke Puckett.