Balanced effort leads Lady Panthers to dominant first round win at state

June 3, 2023 | 12:04 am

Updated June 3, 2023 | 3:06 am

Photo by Gage Johnson

The Lady Panthers took advantage of eight South Laurel errors on Friday with a barrage of hits, pairing that with some strong pitching to grab a dominant 16-0 win to advance to the state quarterfinals on Saturday.

Sophomore Sadie Morris kicked things off with a leadoff walk for Daviess County, with an error the following at-bag putting runners on first and third with no outs in the top of the first. A passed ball later scored Morris, while Payne snagged second with the Lady Panthers in front 1-0.

After eighth grader Kenzie Williams was able to stifle the powerful duo of senior Jessie Daniels freshman Annie Newman with back-to-back strikeouts, freshman Callie Smith proceeded to send one back up the middle for an RBI single and 2-0 lead over the Lady Cardinals.

An inning later Daviess County was able to grab an insurance run, taking advantage of three errors with a sac fly from Daniels to make it 3-0 going into the bottom of the second. It was there that South Laurel got its first of the game, but was unable to cash in as senior Raylee Roby struck out three batters in the inning to keep it at 3-0 going into the third.

Her team returned the favor at the plate as well, as a leadoff single by Smith and a bunt attempt turned two-base error for senior Kaydence Hamilton played a run to make it a 4-0 game with no outs in the top of the third. Senior Kaityln Hill followed with an RBI double to right, with back-to-back walks then loading the bases with one down after a groundout from sophomore Danielle Beckwith.

Senior Kayley Payne drove in one and advanced all runners with a sac fly to center, but a two-run triple to right center from Daniels gave Daviess County an 8-0 lead with two down in the top of the third. Following a walk by Newman, the inning would come to an end with a groundout to short by Smith—but momentum was completely in the Lady Panthers favor.

Daviess County didn’t skip a beat the rest of the way either, peppering eight more runs over the last three innings of play to come away with the 16-0 first round state win over South Laurel.

The Lady Panthers took advantage of South Laurel’s eight errors on the day, continuing to put the ball in play to make things happen. This resulted in Daniels leading the way with two doubles and four RBIs, while Payne and Hill both had a pair of RBIs each and Smith, Hamilton and Morris had one each.

“We felt like if we could be patient and put balls in play hard, then good things were going to happen,” Biggs said. “Don’t go up there trying to jack balls out of here. Don’t go out there trying to hit doubles and triples. Hit the ball hard and let’s just see if they can make some plays and put pressure on them.”

Roby picked up the win in her three-inning start, allowing just one hit while striking out six. Freshman Sophia Cain also struck out a pair in an inning of relief, while eighth grader Kamryn Timmons was able to strike out the side to combine for 11 strikeouts between the three in the one-hit shutout.

For them to step up in the circle with plenty of different teammates also coming in clutch at the plate, Biggs is confident in the culture and mindset that they have at this point of the season.

“This group I don’t think they really feel that pressure,” Biggs said. “The leadership that we have on this team, they’ve been on this stage. They’ve been here. So a lot of it is just trusting ourselves and trusting what we do. The environment may be a little different, but once we step on the line I think it’s just business as usual.”

Now Daviess County has a quick turnaround, as Biggs said that they will tweak a few things in their day off and prepare themselves for a battle in state quarterfinals against East Jessamine at 6 p.m. on Saturday.

“We’re going to adjust some things and get them up for a workout at one of the high schools in the morning,” Biggs said. “Grab something to eat and then do a little relaxing, come back and try to find some information on East Jessamine. I know their pitcher is really good. She was good at Bullitt County and she’s been good for them.”

June 3, 2023 | 12:04 am

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