The high school softball season has been underway for weeks now and some patterns have emerged.
Lafayette ranks among the best teams in the state with Lexington Catholic right on its heels. The Generals and Knights face off in a two-game set next week to jockey for position in the 43rd District and the statewide rankings.
Frederick Douglass is emerging as a contender in the 42nd District, while rival Bryan Station is off to its best start in years. Tates Creek seems to have found a rhythm after a halting start.
Henry Clay, Paul Laurence Dunbar and Lexington Christian continue to find their way with essentially brand new rosters being remade after a lost season due to the pandemic.
The Kentucky Softball Coaches Association’s latest poll ranks Lafayette as the No. 2 team in the state. Lexington Catholic checks in at No. 24. Douglass and Bryan Station also received votes in the poll.
Here’s a look at the Lexington softball landscape this season, starting with the ranked teams and continuing in order of how they shake out in the RPI ratings posted by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association.
Record: 16-1 (KSCA No. 2).
Top of the order: Rylie Grantz, Sr., INF, .489, 5 HR, 14 RBI (Western Alabama); Madison Johnson, So. INF, .500, 2 HR, 18 RBI; Leah Holland, So., P/INF, .442, 3 HR, 20 RBI; Natalie Henry, Sr., INF, .412, 18 runs scored (Western Carolina); Kaileigh Franklin Brooks, Jr., 1B/OF, .302, 5 HR, 17 RBI.
In the circle: Trinity Bridges, So., 5-0, 0.57 ERA, 56 K’s; Leah Holland, 5-1, 1.18 ERA, 53 K’s.
Notes: Grantz was recently named UK Sports Medicine Comeback Athlete of the Year. The Generals’ only loss has come to No. 25 Anderson County. Lafayette faces No. 13 Estill County and No. 11 Male this weekend as it hosts its Five-Star General Tournament. Lafayette ranks second in the state in team home runs with 26 and ranks fourth in the state in team ERA at 1.04. All of Lafayette’s pitchers can throw more than 60 mph “and can spin it,” Coach Dan Grantz said.
Coach Grantz says: “We’ve got a good combination of hitting, pitching and defense, so far. The team has faced some good competition and we’ve got good senior leadership. Really blessed to have the talent we have from top to bottom and the kids more than anything are just really focused this year and have been dialed in game after game.”
Record: 14-2 (KSCA No. 24).
Top of the order: Ella Emmert, Sr., C/Utility, .581, three HRs, 26 runs, 17 RBI, 19 stolen bases; Emily Lammers, Jr., C/Utility, .444, 20 runs, 15 RBI; Hannah Carlisle, Jr., SS, .463, two HRs, 20 runs, 16 RBI; Abby Hammond, 8th, P, .419, three HRs, 14 runs, 19 RBI; Ava Emmert, Fr., 3B, .378, 12 runs, 14 RBI.
In the circle: Hammond, 12-2, 1 save, 110 K’s, 1.24 ERA.
Notes: Hammond has pitched all but nine innings of play for the Knights. That included eight innings of one-hit ball April 27 against Woodford County where the Knights were being no-hit themselves until the extra innings rule put a runner on second for LexCath. Hannah Carlisle reached safely for LexCath’s only hit of the game and moved the runner over. Sara Prisinzano’s sac fly won it, 1-0. Ella and Ava Emmert are sisters and the coach’s daughters.
Coach Emery Emmert says: “They’re playing for each other. They don’t get upset about anything and don’t feel pressure. It’s been that kind of season. It’s great. Last year, I felt like that was going to be our breakout year because we went from the bottom of the pack. I thought everybody’s going to kind of know who we are, and they’re going to have their eyes on us. But then last year didn’t happen. So, (this year) I was like, ‘All right, girls. This is gonna be our debut to the world!’”
Top of the order: Trinity Campbell, So., OF, .391, 15 runs, 12 RBI, 2 HRs, 12 stolen bases; Kynedi Birdsong, Fr., INF, .340, 13 runs, 12 RBI, 2 HRs; Morgan Williams, So. OF/P, .370, 14 runs, eight RBI, 17 stolen bases; Allyson Decker, So. INF, .405, nine runs, 10 RBI, 2 HRs; Tiahna Bowman, 8th, INF, .317, 17 runs, 10 walks.
In the circle: Madison Thomas, Sr., 8-2, 1 save. 111 K’s, 2.97 ERA (Union College); Williams, 1-1, two saves, 4.67 ERA.
Notes: Thomas threw back-to-back no hitters this season against Henry Clay with 15 strikeouts in one and nine K’s in the other. The Defenders have been the only city team hit by a COVID-19 suspension protocol this season. Two of Station’s losses have come to No. 2 Lafayette.
Coach Hector Urbaneja says: “I’m excited to see what’s going to happen. Anything can happen this year. I like my team and I like our chances. Let’s see how far we can go.” On Thomas: “She’s having the best senior year I can think of. I wasn’t expecting a no-hitter and she gave me back-to-back. Our defense was just standing there looking.”
Top of the order: Kasia Parks, Sr., OF, .472, 22 runs, two HRs, nine RBI, 20 stolen bases (Western Kentucky); Rachael Harris, Jr., P, .283, 14 runs, 10 RBI, 11 stolen bases (Walters State); Kayleigh Bell, Jr., Utility, .340, 13 runs, 17 RBI, two HRs; Jordan Bowman, Fr., UTIL, .282, 12 runs, nine RBI, 13 stolen bases. Chloe Hartlep, 8th, P, .333, six runs.
In the circle: Harris, 6-7, 51 K’s, 3.83 ERA; Chloe Hartlep, 2-1, 15 K’s.
Notes: Parks has torn an ACL in each knee and persevered to earn a Division I offer from WKU. She hit a grand slam Thursday against Bryan Station. Six of Douglass’s losses have come to ranked opponents as Coach Donald Murphy lined up No. 3 Ballard, No. 4 Butler, No. 11 Male and No. 13 Estill County all in the first two weeks and took on No. 2 Lafayette on April 21. Their wins have included No. 25 Anderson County.
Coach Murphy says: “We’re making strides in the right direction and won six out of our last eight. We’re minimizing the free passes on the bases, cleaned up our defense some and are starting to hit the ball pretty consistently.” Biggest surprise: Eighth-grader Hartlep and her .333 batting average: “She’s surprised me with what she’s been able to do in big-time situations.”
Top of the order: Peyton Plotts, So., OF, .545, 22 runs, 22 RBI, six HRs; Tinley Easton, Fr., Utility, .475, 24 runs, 15 RBI, 2 HRs; Shaylin Lewis, Jr., 1B, .341, 15 runs, 24 RBI, five HRs; Alyssa Henson, Jr., INF, .296, 13 runs, 14 RBI.
In the circle: Sophie Shelton, Jr., P, 9-5, 51 K’s, 3.87 ERA, Aaleyah Yates, 1-1 in 11 innings.
Notes: The Commodores won seven straight after a 3-8 start. This should be Coach Page Portman’s second season at the helm, but she lost the first to the pandemic and is playing second without a home field as their new home is under construction. The Henson sisters, Alyssa and Eliajah are twins.
Coach Portman says: “We’re finally seeing what they are capable of. At the beginning of the season, we had a few quarantines and, obviously, people were getting a late start on things. The girls have handled it well. … They’re all doing a great job.”
Top of the order: Leah Madden Sr., CF, .500, 17 runs, seven RBI, 25 stolen bases; Ella Smith, 7th, P, .302, five RBI; Anna Webb, So., LF, .267, 11 runs, three RBI; Katelin Martin, Sr., Utility, .237, eight runs, 14 RBI, four doubles.
In the circle: Ella Smith, 5-15, 99 K’s, 4.66 ERA.
Notes: Coach Timothy McCoy underwent quadruple bypass surgery in February after getting himself checked after feeling off the day after tryouts. His instincts about his health helped him avoid a heart attack. He’s been slowly working his way back into his full routine since.
Coach McCoy says: “We’re like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. We’ll play like crazy one day and blow up the next. … We’ve had games where we’ve gotten down and we’ve fought back. The fight is there, but we have to make the routine plays.” McCoy has liked the toughness shown by his seventh-grade pitcher, Smith. “She’s still learning. By the time she’s a freshman and sophomore, look out.”
Top of the order: Sophia Gabbert, Jr., 2B; Avery Leach, 8th, SS; Alexis Furlong, Jr., 3B; Emilie Teall, Sr., CF/P; Anna Gorshak, 8th, C. (Complete statistics not posted to KHSAA).
In the circle: Sabrina Sizemore, 2-7; Teall, 0-2 (Complete statistics not posted to KHSAA).
Notes: The Eagles are only three seasons removed from a 22-8 campaign and were 15-13 in 2019, but this year the roster numbers only 11 as the pandemic layoff took a toll on participation. LCA has three seniors, two juniors and no sophomores in Coach Stephon Brown’s first season in charge.
Coach Brown says: “I knew coming in that we’re young and we don’t have the numbers like the other schools. Our numbers have been down and we’ve had to put inexperienced players in spots that we normally don’t play. It’s a growing season. Our seniors are uplifting and they don’t give up. They know we are a rebuilding team and they’re using their leadership to help the younger kids.”
Paul Laurence Dunbar
Top of the order: Macy Hyams, So., INF/LHP, .357, four RBI; Kate Schweighardt, Sr., C/OF, .308, eight RBI, Holly Marshall, 7th, OF, .250, five runs, four RBI.
In the circle: Macy Hyams, LHP, 1-7, 43 K’s, 5.93 ERA.
Notes: Marshall pairs with sisters Caroline and Kate Schweighardt in the outfield and all earn praise from their coach for fearless play and exceptional defense. The Schweighardts’ older sisters, Abigail and Isabella, also played for Dunbar.
Coach Sasha Turansky says: “We are off to a rough start. Not having a season last year put us in a position this year to be inexperienced in a lot of spots. We’re hopeful with more practice and more games we will get comfortable and gain the confidence we need to compete harder.”