South Warren downs ACS, books fourth straight trip to Region 4 finals
South Warren was kicking around a hacky sack just minutes before taking the field Wednesday afternoon for its regional semifinal game against Allen County-Scottsville.
The Spartans were relaxed — and most definitely ready to play — as they fired on all cylinders and rolled to a 12-1 win at the WKU Softball Complex to book its fourth consecutive trip to the Region 4 softball championship.
“We talked about it yesterday at practice about being relaxed and doing everything with confidence,” South Warren shortstop Emma Mills said. “Coach (Kelly Reynolds) was like, ‘Be relaxed. This could potentially be your last game, so work as hard as you can and have fun.’”
South Warren (21-7) — which Thursday will try to capture its third straight regional title — unloaded for five runs in the top of the first inning to build a comfortable lead and didn’t look back. The Spartans went on to score runs in the second, third and seventh innings and never let Allen County-Scottsville get into a rhythm.
Taylor Enlow started on the mound for the Spartans and tossed a one-hit shutout with a pair of strikeouts in five innings of work. Emily Reynolds replaced Enlow and allowed two hits and a run with two strikeouts to make for a solid day for the Spartans’ pitching staff.
“Taylor is awesome,” Mills said of her teammate. “She comes out there with confidence and just always happy. If she throws a bad pitch, she’s like, ‘Hey, guys. I’m sorry. I’ll do better next time.’ As a defense, we have to have her back and be prepared for whatever she throws and be ready to catch anything.”
While South Warren’s defense was working, so was its offense. The Spartans racked up 14 hits on the night as Alexis Isable led the way with a 3-for-4, three RBI showing at the plate. Just behind her, Mills finished 2-for-5 with three RBI — including a two-run home run in the top of the seventh — while Lauren Martin finished with two hits and an RBI.
Allen County-Scottsville (24-11) had three different players each finish with a hit.
The Spartans will meet the winner of Warren East and Franklin-Simpson in Thursday’s 6 p.m. title match.
“It’s awesome,” South Warren coach Kelly Reynolds said of the Spartans being able to play in a fourth straight regional championship. “It’s a great feeling. These girls have worked so hard. I told them, ‘I’m very thankful that our six seniors get to walk on the field another time.’
“We’ll just have to come out tomorrow night no matter who we play with the same intensity and the same fight.”
South Warren quickly went to work out of the gate.
Courtesy of three hits and a handful of miscues by Allen County-Scottsville, the Spartans batted through their order and scored five runs to build a comfortable lead early. Lauren Martin led off with a single, and Jessica Bush followed up with one of her own to plate Martin and record the game’s first run.
After Jessica Bush scored on a passed ball, a single from Kaitlyn LaSala, a wild pitch and another single by Bailee Collins pushed the Spartans’ advantage to 5-0 after just a half of an inning of action.
“That’s huge,” Mills said of the fast start. “It gives us confidence and it makes us just want to work harder. Sometimes it freaks out the other team, so it gives us more to keep hitting the ball and keep going.”
South Warren remained hot from there.
With two outs in the top of the second, Isable singled into left — and Mills did the exact same in the ensuing at-bat to plate her predecessor and extend the Spartan lead to 6-0.
“Our girls came up there and were ready to hit tonight,” Reynolds said. “No doubt.”
Allen County-Scottsville earned a two-out single from Bailey Ausbrooks in the bottom half of the frame to spoil Enlow’s no-hitter, but Enlow and the Spartans quickly retired the next batter to end the Lady Patriots’ threat.
A pair of two-out singles from Martin and Isable moved the South Warren lead to 8-0 at the end of three.
The Spartans scratched four more runs across in the top of the seventh — powered by a two-out, two-run Isable double and Mills’ two-out, two-run blast — to move the scoreboard to 12-0.
Allen County-Scottsville finally earned its first in the bottom of the seventh but couldn’t get anything across the plate and fell to a South Warren team that’ll try for another Region 4 title.
“It means a lot. Personally to me, as a senior, it means the world to me because this could potentially be my last game,” said Mills. “So I’m gonna walk out on that field and I’m gonna play my hardest — and I know my teammates are gonna play just as hard. We’ve just gotta have fun and work as a team.”
SWHS – 5 1 2 0 0 0 4 – 12 14 1
ACSHS – 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 – 1 3 0
WP: Enlow. LP: Pardue.