Home runs from freshman Annie Newman, freshman Callie Smith and senior Kaydence Hamliton, paired with a steady effort from senior Raylee Roby in the circle led the way in a 10-4 Lady Panthers district win over Owensboro Catholic.
Things got off to a rocky start for senior Raylee Roby and Daviess County, walking consecutive batters after a strikeout to start the game. Senior pitcher Brooke Hamilton then helped herself, sending a liner over the centerfield fence to take a 3-0 lead.
Roby walked one more in the inning, but managed to work out of the jam and then her teammates backed her up. Following a strikeout to start the bottom half of the inning, a double from Senior Kayley Payne and a walk by senior Jessie Daniels led to a three-run shot from freshman Annie Newman that made it a brand new ballgame at 3-3.
The Lady Panthers didn’t stop there either, as a two-out RBI triple and RBI infield single from sophomore Danielle Beckwith gave them a 5-3 lead going into the second inning. But an error to start the top of the inning and another later allowed the Lady Aces to plate one, while having runners in scoring position with two outs.
Roby managed to stop a screamer in the circle though, working out of the jam to keep things at 5-4 going into the bottom of the second. After a quick bottom half inning and top of the third though, Daviess County got hot at the plate again.
Newman got things going for the second time on the night with a leadoff double to left, as freshman Callie Smith and senior Kaydence Hamilton proceeded to hit back-to-back home runs and take an 8-4 lead going into the fourth. From the third inning on Roby had settled back in too, making up for six walks by working out of jams and keeping Owensboro Catholic scoreless for the remainder of the game.
Roby finished by allowing three earned runs—four total—on two hits while also striking out eight in the complete-game victory. With plenty of familiarity between both teams, Head Coach John Biggs felt it was the senior’s ability to adapt in the circle that helped her shut down Owensboro Catholic.
“Those kids, especially his seniors and our seniors, they’ve been playing ball against each other and there’s really no secrets,” Biggs said. “So sometimes it’s a thing that maybe you’ve gonna go away with what you feel like your strengths are to counter what adjustments that they’re making. I thought we did a better job of that… She’s been in big moments before and she wasn’t really flustered.”
Raylee’s fellow Lady Panthers rewarded her efforts as well, grabbing two more runs in the bottom of the sixth with one on an error and one courtesy of a single to left by Newman en route to the 10-4 win.
Newman led the way at the plate for Daviess County with four RBIs on the day, while Smith had a pair and Hamilton, Hill and Beckwith had one each. Biggs said their ability to get the most out of each at-bat, throughout the entirety of the lineup—regardless of age—played a huge factor in the win.
“We spoke after some of our games that we really wanted to cut down our empty at-bats,” Biggs said. “She’s averaging about nine or 10 strikeouts a game… We wanted to make sure we were putting balls in play and both pitcher’s pitch counts were up there pretty good. We wanted to increase the number of pitches she made and we were able to get some hits with two strikes. Early in the season we weren’t doing that. We were free-swinging at anything.”
All in all Biggs said that he was proud of the resiliency his team showed on Tuesday, hoping that tough games like this will help continue to build momentum from more experience as the season progresses.
“That just kind of shows the character of this group,” Biggs said. “They go out there and score three on us… We talked about how this group hasn’t faced a super amount of adversity this season. I’m not saying everything’s been perfect, but to come back and respond like that, I mean especially when you put up five runs that’s huge. I was just wanting to get some people on base and get some quality at-bats. But that response was really big and it was by some young kids.”
Daviess County improves to 13-2 overall and 3-0 in district play with the win, now taking a day break before hitting the road to take on Apollo at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday.
The Lady Aces on the other hand fall to 8-6 overall and 1-1 in district play, having struggled to take advantage of runners in scoring position. Despite the result, Head Coach Jeremy Phelps was proud of the way his team battled at the plate and hopes that they grew from this tough matchup early in the season.
“I like the way they competed,” Phelps said. “We hit the ball. We played her four times last year and only scored four or five runs in four games. The approach was better. A lot of those girls have seen her before, but I think that’ll help us in future times playing them.”
Phelps said that adding more and more experience against faster pitching like this will only help Owensboro Catholic going forward, looking to grab a district win against Owensboro at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday—hoping to pick up some momentum with a tough schedule up ahead.
“They did good,” Phelps said. “Seeing that speed, I made it a big deal when we went to Florida and faced that kind of speed. We got to see Hancock County’s pitcher, so we’re seeing that speed over and over and I think that’s a big advantage for us. Right now we’re just trying to put wins together, because our next focus is All-A next weekend.”