May 26—Although they fell to Somerset in their two regular-season match-ups, the Pulaski County High School softball team won the game they needed to be crowned the 47th District Tournament champions. On Wednesday in the 47th District Tournament championship game, Pulaski County struck early and relied on a solid pitching effort by senior Jessie Begley to come away with the 10-2 victory at Charlie W. Barnett Field.
Pulaski County scored three runs in the first inning, two runs in the third, and two runs in the fifth to race out to a 7-0 lead. In fact, the visiting Lady Maroons threatened to put the game into a shortened run-rule game, after they went up 10-0 in the middle of the sixth frame. However, the Lady Jumpers rallied to score two runs in the bottom of the sixth to extend the game to seven complete innings.
"In the first two games (against Somerset), we beat ourselves," Pulaski County High School softball coach Brad Gover stated. "We were up, but we made silly mistakes and errors that we usually don't make. Our outfield needs cleaning up, but we do have an anchor out there right now in Kaelyn Conway. She is going whip them in shape."
"We've been moving around our outfielders trying to find speed, and with Kaelyn as our anchor it's getting better," Gover stated. "Our hitting is coming around, and our hitters are starting to hit. Now they're seeing the ball big and this team can be dangerous. I know we're young with five eighth-graders and two freshmen in the starting line-up. Six of the nine have not been playing varsity very long. This win was huge in the aspect of who we can draw in the region."
In the pitcher's circle, senior hurler Jessie Begley — who was named the 47th District Tournament Most Valuable Player — held the Lady Jumpers scoreless and only allowed one hit through five innings of play. For the game, Begley allowed three hits, one earned run and struck out six batters.
"Jessie Begley showed out," Gover vaunted. "She was back in her form that she was in first of the year. She's rejuvenated, and we needed that in the worst way."
Begley got plenty of help from her offense in their very first at bats. Brooklyn Thomas led off the first-inning rally after she reached first base on an error. Chloe Carroll doubled deep to left field to score Thomas, as Carroll advanced to third on the throw to home. Bella Ellis hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score Carroll from third. With two outs, Conway double to right field, and Holly Barron singled to left field to score Conway — for the Lady Maroons third run of the game.
In the bottom of the second inning, Somerset senior Addison Langford hit a two-out triple. However, Langford got stranded at third after the third out.
In the top of the third inning, the Lady Maroons added on two more runs to go up 5-0. Brooklyn Thomas and Carroll opened up the third with back-to-back singles. Ellis slammed a single to center field to score Thomas. Carroll later stole third and scored on a dropped third strike to Barron.
Pulaski County got two more runs in the fifth inning to go up 7-0. Conway singled and Barron doubled to put runners on second and third. Riley Reynolds doubled to centerfield to score Conway and Barron.
The Lady Maroons put the game into potential mercy-rule status after they went up 10-0 in the middle of the sixth inning. Begley doubled to center field, and scored on a Thomas double to left field. Carroll doubled to center to score Thomas, and Carroll scored on a Somerset throwing error.
Down to their last own, Somerset mustered up a rally to keep their hopes alive. Sarah White led off the inning with a single, and Mollie Lucas walked. Carly Cain singled to left field to score both White and Lucas. After Jasmine Peavey walked, the Lady Jumpers ended up stranding two runners at the end of the sixth inning.
Both teams went down in order in the seventh inning to secure the Lady Maroons' first softball district title since 2018.
"This year's region is gonna be tough," Gover stated. "The winner's bracket is gonna be tough, so we wanted to give ourselves the best chance to move on in that region. And we did, we showed up tonight."
Pulaski County eighth-grader Chloe Carroll led the Lady Maroons with three hits, two runs batted in, and three runs scored. Senior Kaelyn Conway had three hits and two runs scored. Jessie Begley had two hits and scored a run. Brooklyn Thomas had two hits, scored three runs, and drove in a run. Bella Ellis had one hit and drove in two runs. Holly Barron had two hits, drove in a run, and scored a run. Riley Reynolds had one hit and drove in two runs.
Carly Cain, Addison Langford, and Sarah White had the only hits for the Lady Jumpers.
Local players named the 47th District All-Season Team were Kaley Harris, Mollie Lucas, Carly Cain, and Jasmine Peavey from Somerset; and Brooklyn Thomas, Bella Ellis, and Chloe Carroll from Pulaski County. Jessie Begley was named the 47th District Tournament Most Valuable Player.
Pulaski County (24-10) and Somerset (19-15) will both advance to the 12th Region Tournament to be played this weekend at Boyle County High school.
STEVE CORNELIUS is the CJ Sports Editor and can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @CJSportseditor.