CENTRAL HARDIN IS 4-REAL!!!
5th Region Softball Tournament
Central Hardin is 4-Real!!!
Last Saturday afternoon, the Central Hardin Lady Bruins reminded us my they are still the BEST in the 5th Region and did so in a fashion not typical of what we are use to. For the last several years, we are so use to the powerful batting lineup that constantly puts balls over the fence and pressures your defense and pitching with a steady line of hitters. This year’s edition can still hit the long ball, but they went from a team which like the New York Yankees that become a different team when they aren’t putting balls over the wall to one which can play small ball and pressure you at every turn. After cruising to wins over Hart County and Marion County, the Lady Bruins got the opponent that everyone in the Region thought would give them their best Sunday Punch and like last year’s playoff game won by Central Hardin, they took the Lady Dragons pitch for pitch and finally put them away using their speed and opportunism.
After Emily Bryant reached on a single in the bottom of the third, the next batter Meredith Jones singled and Bryant stretched it to third and then scored on a throwing error sending Jones to third. Jones scored on a groundout and Central Hardin led 2-0. That was all they would need as junior pitcher Kaci Goedde wasn’t giving Green County anything after a that except for a single by freshman Kaitlyn Milby and was lights out in the clutch in her fourth straight Region Final appearance (all of them wins).
Junior Peyton Beger finished out the scoring with a two-run home run off Abigail Keltner in the bottom of the fifth to make the final score 4-0. It was the eighth straight Region title and trip to the State Tournament for Central Hardin and Jaime Goodman should have the girls ready in game one in Owensboro no matter who they face. Look like it will be Ballard at 6:00pm Thursday, but Central Hardin should still have a few surprises ready regardless.
Goedde is “LIGHTS OUT!” Kaci Goedde has never had a problem proving herself as a varsity pitcher for the Lady Bruins since her eighth-grade season in which she got the win against Taylor County in the Region championship game. Since then, Goedde faced the opponents No.1 pitcher in the last three 5th Region Finals and come out victorious in all of them, but last Saturday’s gem was probably her best. Facing a team which patterns itself much like the Lady Bruins, Green County couldn’t get anything off the junior except a single by Kaitlyn Milby and had three strikeouts, but just as impressive was her command as she constantly forced the home run hitters of the Lady Dragons to hit her pitch giving her defense plenty of opportunities.
Good Pitching Equals a Fast Game. A little known stat that may have went unnoticed in the Green County-Central Hardin 5th Region Championship game was that it may have set a record for time of completion. After first pitch took off at about 4:00pm Saturday afternoon, the final out by Green County was recorded around 5:10pm making it one of the fastest games in playoff history. Much of the credit may have to go to the two pitchers Goedde and Abigail Keltner as they both were very effective on the circle and that led to plenty of one-two-three innings.
The Game of the Tournament was a GOOD ONE! In a Tournament of great performances, probably the most exciting may have been the Washington County vs. Elizabethtown first round game. It seems like anytime the Lady Commanders are involved there is almost something interesting or unusal such as four home runs, several exciting defensive plays and one great comeback followed by another. The Lady Panthers, who haven’t been in a Region setting since 2014 and only once more in the last fifteen years built a 3-0 lead only to watch it disappear under a barrage of long balls by the Lady Commanders and were able to scratch out a win to advance to the second round for the second time in three trips.
Marion County MAGIC! Another little known fact about the Marion County setting is that the last two times the Region Softball Tournament was seeded there in 2007 and 2012, both semi-final games went to extra innings including the dramatic 7—6 extra inning win by Nelson County over John Hardin in 2007. That was best known as the Kristen Zutterman game in which she was 5-for -5 and hit three home runs including the walk off in the extra frame. The head coach for Nelson County was John Rogers, who is now an assistant at Washington County and it appeared that magic was about to reappear in the Elizabethtown game when trailing 3-0, Trinity Baker hit one in the fifth, Kate Taylor and then Rachel Smith in the bottom of the sixth to tie it up. Shades of Zutterman! Unfortunately, Washington County got no more and Elizabethtown put it away in the eighth with two runs.
BIG PLAY PRESLEY! At an early age freshman Presley Payne has shown a flair for the dramatics on both offense and defense. The Elizabethtown shortstop made several difficult catches in the Washington County game and used her speed to turn a routine slap hit into an exciting inside-the –park homerun to give the Lady Panthers a 1-0 lead. Just as impressive is her work in the infield as she was involved in a pivotal play in the fifth when she teamed up with the catcher to throw out baserunner Katelyn Norris just before Smith’s homerun tied it at three. One had to wonder if the Lady Panthers would have survived the game trailing for the first time instead of being in a tie. The irony is that Norris was involved in a strange play several years ago in the Region Sem-Finals when she somehow escaped a double play to score what turned out to be the winning run for Washington County against Hart County. My! How things change.
SMALL BALL TACTICS! Seems like everyone likes playing “Small Ball” including the Green County Softball team. That’s pretty much the way they beat Elizabethtown in the second round of the tournament, using timely hits, working the count drawing walks and taking advantage of infield indecisions to build a 6-0 lead and it could have been even more if they had been sharper. The Lady Dragons pounded out 12-hits against Trista Colosanti and her backup seventh-grader Kylie McKinney and just kept putting players on bases keeping the pressure on in an 11-0 win. Probably the loudest shot heard was by Madi Corbin, who went deep in the fifth inning. Junior pitcher Abigail Keltner threw a shutout allowing only one hit and getting the win.
OFFENSIVE EXPLOSION. The Central Hardin Softball team might have gotten a tough draw in the Region Tournament, but don’t tell them that especially third baseman Emily Bryant, who has been on fire of late. Since moving her to the leadoff spot, Bryant has been on a tear and has been eating up opposing pitching and hit home runs against Hart County’s Katie Collins and Marion County’s Haley Mattingly in consecutive games. Peyton Beger has also a problem cooling off going deep against Mattingly and Green County’s Abigail Keltner. She along with Bailey Richardson who went deep against Hart County have had no problem getting on base or crossing the plate as Central Hardin outscored their three opponents 22-3.