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Softball - Lady Mustangs dominate First Region competition
6/5/2017 11:34 AM

All the batting practices. All the perseverance. All the extra pitches. It all paid off handsomely for McCracken County on Wednesday night.

In front of a sellout crowd of maroon and kelly green fans at Baptist Health Field, the Lady Mustangs lambasted Ballard Memorial 21-2 in four innings to clinch a fourth-consecutive First Region softball championship.

No less special than the last three regional titles, McCracken County head coach Tony Hayden noted the ongoing message to his team and those watching this week was simple.

This team is healthy. This team is together. This team is ready for the state tournament in Owensboro.

"I think that this sends the message that even though we lost those seven seniors, we're still McCracken County," he said. "We still hit the ball. We still have pitchers. Our defense we've always believed in, and we've worked harder on that than almost anything we do at practice."

If there was any shred of hope, doubt or mystery in the game, it was quickly squelched when McCracken County plated 10 runs in the top of the first inning -- a rare visitor's appearance for the Lady Mustangs on their home field.

The first seven batters -- Taylor Poindexter, Abby Shoulders, Kalli Harris, Lindsey Carroll, Hannah Jones, Lakyn Largent and Mackenzie Durbin -- all reached safely behind six singles and a walk to make it 5-0 before Elizabeth Lindsey demolished a full-count fastball over the left-field fence for an 8-0 lead.

Shelby Hawes -- who had already thrown 17 innings the previous two days -- was relieved by Ree Fields from third, but the Lady Mustangs kept going. Shoulders reached on a fielder's choice and eventually came around on a Harris triple to the fence. Carroll would cap the early onslaught with an RBI single to make it 10-0.

For at least five batters in the first inning, both Hawes and Fields had managed a full-count. But the Lady Mustangs laid in wait.

"We've really been taught how to attack the ball," Lindsey said. "There's no telling how many swings and seen so many live pitches, that we go up with a plan and know what we want to hit."

Ballard Memorial head coach Danny Leidecker, whose Lady Bombers were in the First Region Championship for the first time since 2002, said he and his young team tried to throw any and everything to keep McCracken off balance.

The Lady Mustangs were just that hot.

"Shelby â ¦ you've got to back with that kid pitching," Leidecker said. "You've got to. She's sore. She threw a lot of pitches on (Tuesday), but we've rode that kid all year long and she's had a very, very, very good year. You've got to roll with her in this game, this championship game. That kid got us here. She deserved the ball.

"I think if you threw a golf ball out there, they would've hit it somewhere. They're rolling right now. The state's going to have their hands full if they keep hitting it the way they are hitting it."

McCracken County would add six more runs from its varsity squad in the top of the second inning, which began with five straight singles from Durbin, Lindsey, Karlie Hatton, Poindexter, Shoulders and Harris before Carroll capped her 3-for-3 afternoon with a two-run bomb to left for the 16-0 advantage.

"I think we did absolutely amazing," Carroll said. "I think being guest helped a lot because we always want to be first.

"That's our thing. We want to jump out and be on top."

On top of the region for a fourth consecutive season, the Lady Mustangs know not who they play in the opening round of the KHSAA State Tournament next Thursday, as Louisville Ballard and Male play for the Seventh Region Championship tonight at 5:30 on the campus of the University of Louisville.

For now, they'll just enjoy another extended season.

"We've finally found that togetherness and the team aspect of it," Hayden said. "That's what we preach every year -- team first."

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McCracken CO. 10 62 3 -- 21 23 1

Ballard Mem 0 02 0 -- 2 2 3

WP: Largent, LP: Hawes

2B: MC-Jones; 3B: MC-Harris; HR: MC-Lindsey, Carroll

Top Hitters: MC-Poindexter 3-3 (2 R, 2 RBI), Shoulders 1-2 (2 R, RBI), Harris 2-3 (3 RBI, 3 R), Carroll 3-3 (3 RBI, 3 R), Jones 2-3 (R, RBI), Lindsey 2-2 (3 RBI, 2 R), Neckel 2-2 (3 RBI)

Records: MC 29-8, BM 22-10-1

2017 First Region All-Tournament Team

Gracie Lusk, Hickman County

Maddie Martin, Carlisle County

Chesleigh Pugh, Paducah Tilghman

Lexee Miller, Marshall County

Kayli Kelso, Calloway County

Laken Kelso, Calloway County

Shelby Amis, Graves County

Bailey Wilson, Graves County

Hannah Jones, McCracken County

Leah Shelley, Ballard Memorial

Elizabeth Lindsey, McCracken County

Shelby Elrod, Ballard Memorial

Lindsey Carroll, McCracken County

Shelby Hawes, Ballard Memorial

Lakyn Largent, McCracken County (Tournament MVP)

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