Early home runs help Lady Panthers clinch 5th straight district title

May 23, 2024 | 12:05 am

Updated May 23, 2024 | 2:08 am

Daviess County’s hot start to the district championship game carried them to a 6-0 win over Owensboro Catholic and to their 5th straight title. The Lady Panther’s Annie Newman was also named this year’s District Player of the Year. The All-District Team was named at the end of the game, and it included the following players:

  • Molly Hancock- Daviess County
  • Shelby Bennett- Daviess County
  • Arianna Ramirez- Apollo
  • Macy Calhoun- Apollo
  • Sadie Morris- Daviess County
  • Tyranda Stuart- Owensboro Catholic
  • Mallory Velotta- Apollo
  • Kamryn Timmons- Daviess County
  • Hannah Robbins- Owensboro Catholic
  • Sophia Cain- Daviess County
  • Emmi Connor- Owensboro 

Daviess County grabbed the lead early on in the first inning. The Lady Panthers defense was quick to shut down OCHS in the top of the inning, and it looked like the Lady Aces were going to do the same as they got two quick outs. However, Newman stepped up and hit a solo home run out to center field to open the scoring in fashion. 

It was three up and three down for DC in the top of the second inning, and the bottom of the inning was where they really heated up. Molly Hancock led off and walked to first, and Danielle Beckwith got on first with a bunt to put runners on base. Up next was Briley Henry who hit a bomb out to center field for a 3-run homer.  Still with no outs on the board, DCHS kept their momentum going after Makayla Rowan was walked and Kylie Clark singled on a line drive to left field.

Bennett came up big for DC with a double that ran in Clark and took the score to 5-0. Rowan was out on appeal at second for the second out of the inning, but Newman hit a ground ball to keep the inning alive. Catholic attempted to throw out Newman at first, but an error allowed Bennett to round third and head home. A fly out on the following at-bat closed out the inning with a 6-0 scoreline. 

Lady Panthers head coach John Biggs couldn’t have asked for a better first two innings to a championship game as two homers set the tone early. Newman and Henry’s home runs allowed the defense to relax a little as every pitch wouldn’t be high stakes, he said. 

“Annie’s home run got us on the board early, and that takes a little pressure off,” he said. “Then the big inning in the second was huge. Briley Henry, we knew she was capable of doing that all year. She’s been struggling a little bit, but she’s worked extremely hard. When you put a crooked number up there, pitchers and the defense can relax because not every play could be a game-deciding moment.”

For the rest of the game both teams anchored down on defense and held one another scoreless. Leading Daviess County’s defense was Sophia Cain and Kamryn Timmons who threw a combined no-hitter and recorded 10 total strikeouts between the two of them. DCHS had scoring opportunities, but Hannah Robbins led the Lady Aces defense in keeping DC scoreless for the remainder of the game. She recorded 2 strikeouts and allowed 6 total hits. 

Biggs stated that closing out the game was important for Daviess County as Owensboro Catholic is very capable of putting runs on the board late in the game. The Lady Aces’ first round game against Apollo showed this as they scored 8 runs in the final two innings, so being able to no-hit them was a testament to how hard Cain and Timmons worked, he said. 

“I thought Sophia did a super job of keeping them off balance with her pitches, especially with her changeup,” he said. “I thought that was her best performance. Then Kam came in and was able to finish it off. That’s a team over there that’s capable of putting some runs up. Last night they scored 8 runs in the last two innings, so to no-hit them is a testament to how hard our pitchers were working, hitting their spots, and doing what they needed to do.”

Daviess County and Owensboro Catholic both will move to regionals next week with the draw taking place Saturday morning. OCHS head coach Jeremy Phelps said that the district championship was a great introduction to more high stakes games for his young Lady Aces team. They understand that from here on each game will get bigger and bigger, he said. 

“This here is just a learning experience about being in the moment, understanding what’s going on and knowing that you got an opportunity to play them again later on in the season if it comes down that way” he said. “That’s the biggest part. Getting these girls experience and being able to play in front of a big crowd so they understand that every game gets bigger. Region brings in a big crowd. Everybody’s in one surrounding area and you’ve got all 8 teams there. It’s always a good setting and it’s good for the girls to experience that. 

“We’ve got more games to take care of,” he continued. “We know that we’re going to be in the opposite bracket as them, so we get to take care of business and we still have a chance to play them again next week.”

May 23, 2024 | 12:05 am

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