In a softball district that had been dominated by Henderson County and Union County for years, it was time for Webster County to rise up and challenge the Lady Colonels and the Lady Bravettes for the Sixth District crown.
In a season that was marked by successes of epic proportions, the Lady Trojans now find themselves in the driver’s seat to win the district as the top seed in what would be the first district title for softball in school history.
Webster County secured the top seed by winning both regular season games against Union County. This accomplishment not only marked the first time since 2002 that the Lady Trojans have swept the Bravettes in regular season play, but it also signified the first time in school history that Webster County has won the Sixth District regular season title.
“It’s just a stepping stone,” said Webster County coach Greg Sutton. “We’re trying to climb to the top and this is a good motivator for the kids. I don’t know if Union has ever had to sit back and wait (for the district championship game) and that says a lot about our team and the heart that our kids have.”
Union County advanced to the district championship game with a 9-1 victory over Henderson County on Monday night, with pitching ace Evyn Hendrickson giving up just one earned run on four hits while striking out 12 in a complete game victory. It was just the fourth start back inside the circle for the Kentucky Wesleyan College signee, who has missed the majority of this season after being struck in the face by a hit ball in a game against Madisonville-North Hopkins on April 14, and she will be looking forward to another crack at the Lady Trojan lineup.
The senior started the first meeting against the Lady Trojans in Morganfield on April 11, surrendering three earned runs on eight hits and two walks while striking out 10 in a 3-1 loss.
“She has a good rise ball, but we hit her the first game we played them, so hopefully we can come in stronger and hit against her,” said sophomore catcher Hattie Hartman.
“We just have to play them like we did the first time we played them with her pitching,” said junior first baseman Kari Wood.
But Webster County will also start a pitcher that is of the same stature, if not higher, of Hendrickson: sophomore Karlie Keeney.
Keeney pitched extremely well against Union County in the first meeting in Morganfield this season, giving up just one run on three hits and one walk, while striking out four.
But the multi-sport talent would follow up that solid performance with an even more impressive outing in the second game against Union, as the Lady Trojans’ ace pitched a no-hitter in a 3-1 victory over the Bravettes in Dixon on May 2. Union County scored its lone run on two Lady Trojan errors in the top of the first.
“The backdoor curve was really effective,” said Keeney. “It came back into the zone and they didn’t want to swing at it.”
“Karlie has done a great job of hitting her spots lately,” said Hartman. “Me and her work good as a team pitching and catching.”
Keeney enters Wednesday night game against the Bravettes with a record of 15-7 and a team-low 1.76 ERA on the season.
A common theme among all the Webster County players is not to underestimate Union County even though the Lady Trojans have already defeated the Bravettes twice this season.
“You never know what could happen,” said Wood. “Our team can’t come in over confident, so we just have to play with an attitude that we can lose. We have to play with all we have.”
“We can’t go in overconfident with two wins against Union, but we just have to be confident and go in and play our game,” added Hartman.
The Lady Trojans and Bravettes will square off for the district title on Wednesday night in Morganfield. First pitch is set for 5:30 p.m.
Reach CAMERON BROWN