May 26—MONTICELLO — The Southwestern Lady Warriors were looking to add yet another 48th District trophy to their trophy case on Tuesday evening as they faced off with the Wayne County Lady Cardinals. This was virtually a home game for Wayne County as it took place at their home field but you couldn't tell it by the crowd, as the Southwestern fan base traveled extremely well for this championship game.
With the Warriors entering this game on a 12-game winning streak, it looked as if they would be favorites to claim the district trophy, but in a game like softball, all it takes is a few hot bats on either team to turn the tide, so Wayne (despite being only 12-12 on the season) still had a chance here. Couple that with the fact that Southwestern hadn't played a game in 8 days time, whereas the Cardinals competed last night in a winning effort vs McCreary Central, there was no telling who would come out on top in this one, especially if the bats of Southwestern had any sort of rust on them.
Southwestern would be the first team to strike in the 1st inning and they would use that momentum the rest of the game, scoring runs in every inning they came to bat, while also only allowing 1 hit, en route to an 11-0 victory in 5 innings of play.
The first batter up for Wayne County in the top of the first (Wayne batted first due to Southwestern being the designated home team) would line out in the infield to begin the game. The next batter looked to have a base hit but the ball was caught on a spectacular dive by first baseman Taylor Nelson. Gwin would then strike out the next batter she faced for her 1st of the game and to retire the side. Ashtyn Hines would lead off as always for the Lady Warriors in the bottom of the inning and would produce a huge hit to deep right field, good enough for a triple. The next batter would fly out before Gwin would come up to bat and produce a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Hines from 3rd base for her 1st RBI and put the Lady Warriors on the board with a run. Kylie Dalton would then hit a single into left field with Brooklyn Marcum coming on to pinch run for her. Aimee Johnson then made it all the way to 2nd base as Wayne County made an error fielding the ball in the outfield following a pop fly. The following batter would line out in the infield to retire the Warriors with just the 1 run scored.
Aston Tucker would score the first hit of the game for the Lady Cardinals in the top of the second, a single to right field. Gwin would then get her 2nd strikeout of the game on the next batter before the batter after would fly out to right field, putting 2 outs on the scoreboard. Tucker would steal 2nd base as the next batter was squaring up, before Gwin grabbed her 3rd strikeout of the evening to strand the runner there. Sidney Hansen would start the bottom of the frame off with a big hit to left field for a double. After Hansen stole 3rd base, Nelson would strike the ball into center field for the RBI single, giving the Warriors their 2nd run of the game. Although the next batter would strike out (giving Debord her 1st of the ball game), the top of the order would come around for Southwestern, with Hines once again striking a huge hit, this one a double into right field to put 2 runners into scoring position. Alyssa Raleigh would then leg out an infield single for the RBI, scoring the run from 3rd base and increasing their lead to 3-0. Raleigh would then steal 2nd base to put 2 runners into scoring position once again before the next batter would fly out in the infield to put 2 outs on the board for the de facto home team. Dalton would then draw a walk to load up the bases, with Marcum pinch running for her. The Lady Warriors would leave the bases loaded as the inning ended however, as the next batter would fly out to center field.
It would be a quick top of the third inning, as Gwin would strike out 2 straight batters to give herself 5 total for the game. The 3rd batter would then line out in the infield to retire the side quickly. Jordyn McDonald would begin the bottom of the 3rd with a single into left field. After a steal of 2nd base by McDonald, a hit by Hansen into left field would be good for the RBI single, putting the Lady Warriors in front 4-0. A fly out in the infield by the next batter would bring on Brynn Troxell, who would then hit into a fielder's choice that would get the lead runner out at 2nd base, giving Southwestern a runner on 1st base with only 1 out to work with. Troxell would steal 2nd base before Hines would draw the 2-out walk to put 2 base runners on for the Warriors. Following a double steal by both the base runners to advance them into scoring position, Raleigh would also draw a walk, loading up the bases. Gwin would then have the biggest hit of the game, a huge shot down the left field line that would unload the bases and give herself a 3-RBI double, increasing the Southwestern lead all the way to 7-0, with Lexi Martin coming on to pinch run for the pitcher. Dalton would then strike the ball to right field for an RBI double, giving the Warriors their 8th run of the game. The following batter would line out in the infield to finally retire the side, with Southwestern being close to the run rule activating after the 5th inning.
In the top of the fourth, Gwin would strike out all 3 batters she faced (for her 6th, 7th, and 8th strikeouts of the day), with it looking to be almost an impossible task to get a hit off of her at this point in the game. McDonald once again led off here in the bottom of the inning, reaching 1st base following an error by Wayne County. McDonald would once again steal 2nd base before an RBI single by Hansen would give her a 2nd RBI in the ball game and also put the Lady Warriors up 9-0. Nelson would draw a walk to put 2 Southwestern players on base, before the next batter would fly out to deep center field to put the 1st out on the board. Hansen would then steal 3rd base, with a throwing error advancing the 2 runners again and scoring the 10th run of the game. Hines would then be back up again as we reached the top of the order, where she would reach following another error by the Lady Cardinals. An infield hit by Raleigh would then score another Lady Warrior, putting them up 11-0. The following batter would line out into a double play to retire the side, giving the Lady Cardinals 3 outs to put up at least 2 runs or else the run rule would come into effect.
Gwin was locked in here in the top of the fifth inning, as she would strike out the first batter she faced for her 9th strikeout of the game and 4th in a row overall. The 2nd batter up would fly out in the infield, putting Wayne County down to their final out of the ball game. The Lady Cardinals gave it their all, but Southwestern was just too strong, as Gwin would strike out the final batter to end the game with the Lady Warriors taking home the district championship by a score of 11-0. A strong performance by Gwin led the way as she had 10 strikeouts on the mound while only allowing one hit and also had 4 RBI's batting. Southwestern heads into the region tournament on a 13-game winning streak and should be one of the favorites to win the whole thing!
Both Wayne County and Southwestern will advance to the 12th Region tournament. Best of luck to both of these teams as well as all local teams who will be heading to Boyle County with the dream of taking home that Region trophy! The 48th District All-Tournament team was announced following the game and is as follows, from McCreary Central: Ava Stephens and Victoria Murphy, from Wayne County: Malainey Dobbs, Aston Tucker, and Cami Debord, and from Southwestern: Ashtyn Hines, Kaitlyn Gwin, Kylie Dalton, and Sidney Hansen. Congrats to all of these players! The 12th Region tournament will begin on Saturday at Boyle County High School.