Elizabethtown wins by a foot literally!!!!!
ELIZABETHTOWN WINS BY A FOOT, LITERLLY!!!!
The image says it all as Elizabethtown’s Presley Payne beat out the throw to first by either an eyelash or a hair or by an inch. Whatever colorful words that best describes a game which may have defined both teams early in a softball season while they each search for an identity.
Although Elizabethtown is searching for their new identity after losing three of the most impactful seniors from last year’s team, they may have found one even if it came in the most interesting way. The Lady Panthers, which weren’t predicted to be much of a factor in the 5th Region Championship race went from the power of Taylor Thomas and the steady pitching of Nicole Blackstone to a group of youngsters and transfers and hope to find their way to a competitive path in the 17th District race.
Head coach Jimmy Schmidt looks at the new season as a transition year, but also expects improvement with his young lineup which includes only one senior and a bunch of freshman at key spots and in the batting lineup. Their game against cross town rival LaRue County started out like it might be a slow methodical match, but ended up with a fury provided by the Lady Hawks near the end. Schmidt went with freshman and former North Hardin pitcher Tristen Colasanti in only the second game of the new season for the Lady Panthers and she pitched well until the late innings when things got a little shaky.
Schmidt might have found a consistent pitcher in young Colasanti, who allowed seven hits in seven innings and added a new factor to the batting lineup when she went deep against Lady Hawk pitcher Sara Jo Calhoun with a big three run home run in the bottom of the fourth inning. The freshman’s shot was part of a huge seven run inning that erased a 1-0 deficit and put Elizabethtown ahead 7-1 after four innings.
The game looked like it might be a laugher after that until LaRue County made things interesting by plating three runs in the top of the sixth and three more in the top of the seventh to tie things at 7-all. It was there that the Lady Panthers for only the second time in the game mounted a serious offensive threat when they got a leadoff single and after two outs, up stepped freshman Presley Payne, who slapped one to the left side of the infield and beat out the throw to first by a nose to plate the game winning run.
You could also say that just as easily as the Lady Panthers found a way to win, the Lady Hawks were part of another frustrating way to lose. In the three-run seventh inning for head coach Rocky Cundiff’s team, the Lady Hawks missed a golden opportunity to go ahead when with just one out and runners in scoring position, senior shortstop Presley Brown smacked a deep fly ball which was caught for out number two. The baserunner at third who scored on the play was called out for leaving early erasing their eighth possible run and producing out number three. The lost run proved to be fatal as Payne pushed across the winning run in the bottom of the inning.
Afterwards, the look on both teams was a classic image of joy by the Lady Panthers, who felt a little like a group that just got a reprieve after a game which appeared to get out of control and the Lady Hawks, which either looked both shocked and confused.
It really was a game of crazy plays, funny missteps and fielding miscues that would make any Softball Follies film. One of those occurred in the bottom of the fourth when Elizabethtown teed off on Calhoun and sent deep drives to the outfield when junior outfielder Lauren Pollard made the most interesting defensive play of the day when she nearly ran down a shot to the wall, appeared to corral it, but then lost control when she stumbled near the warning track and dropped it, yet still had the presence of mind to get the ball back to the infield while on the seat of her pants. Still, Pollard was on the receiving end of several big outs as the game progressed and did help spearhead the six run explosion in the final two innings. Not bad for a girl who made the move from the infield to the wide open spaces of the outfield.
Coming off a 17-14 season, the Lady Hawks have also tried to develop their own identity this season, but at the same time have most definitely shown a fair for the dramatic. Back in March, LaRue County mounted a furious comeback against North Hardin in a game shortened by rain, but they had the lady Trojans on the ropes and had runners in scoring position just before the monsoon hit in the bottom of the fifth in a 6-3 loss. During that time, they went 8-4 during the Spring Break and looked to continue their success until the Elizabethtown game and the Hart County game that followed.
So, Schmidt will look at that win as progress, while Cundiff will look at the loss as a minor setback (this wasn’t a District game for either team) and both coaches will hopefully see something they can both build on as there will be other frustrating losses and satisfying wins to come. So an early April matchup isn’t really fatal to each, because regardless to popular thinking it’s a LONG season.