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Lady Cats dominate spring sports

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By Greg Woods

sports@hlocal.com

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Looking back at the 2017 high school spring sports, it is easy to pick the team with the best performance.

The Henry County Lady Cats won their third consecutive 31st District title with a thrilling 10-9 win over Owen County in the district tournament finals. That win marked the Lady Cats’ 25th consecutive district win over three seasons.

The last time Henry County’s softball team lost a game to a district opponent was to Gallatin County in the 2014 district finals.

The Lady Cats also had a great season overall with 23 wins and only eight losses.

I don’t think many people expected Henry County to be that good this year but three middle school players and some veterans combined to make it the most successful season in along time.

One of those middle school players was Lizzie Young, a seventh-grader who ended up batting .541 for the year and finished in the top 15 in batting average in the state. She also led her team with 30 runs scored.

Second baseman Sydney Raisor, a seventh-grader, and catcher Jerika Randall, an eighth-grader, also contributed greatly to the Lady Cats success. Raisor had the second highest batting average on the team at .426 and Randall batted .384.

But the Lady Cats also had veterans that contributed mightily to the cause. Seniors Kelsey Shepherd, Haley Miles and Lilly Golden each had a hand in leading their young teammates to a successful season.

Miles was the starting pitcher and cleanup hitter for the Lady Cats. Miles batted .378 and led the team with 31 RBIs.

Golden was an excellent defensive first baseman and had her best season at the plate with a .359 batting average and 26 runs scored.

Shepherd was a standout in centerfield with excellent range and a sure glove. She also had a couple of big throws to nail runners at the plate and preserve wins for the Lady Cats. Her bat got hot late in the season and she finished with a .392 batting average.

The key to the Lady Cats’ success this season was hitting. The Lady Cats had a team batting average of .391. They scored 280 runs in 31 games to average nine runs per game.

The Lady Cats also have a core of sophomores in Haley Peyton, Gracie Golden, Claire Young and Nikki Perkinson, who played key roles in this year’s success.

Hopefully, they will forget what happened in the regional tournament and remember the success of the rest of the season moving forward. With the four sophomores and three middle school youngsters returning, the Lady Cats’ district dominance should continue for some time to come.

The Henry County baseball team also had a successful year despite ending the season on a five-game losing streak.

The Wildcats won 18 games and lost 10 but were 18-5 heading into the final two weeks of the season.

They had good pitching and hitting for most of the season but their hitting abandoned them late in the season. Henry County still outscored their opponents 200 to 108 over the season despite the scoring drought.

Aside from the hitting problems at the end of the season, the Wildcats’ biggest deficiency was defensive consistency. The Wildcats played excellent defense at times but had some games where errors killed them.

With six returning starters for next season, the Wildcats have a chance to surpass this year’s record. To do that they will need to replace the speed, pitching and defense of Blake Prather, the leadership and defense of first baseman Dawson Armstrong and the defense and strong arm of Dylan Mayer in the outfield. They will also need to be more consistent in the field and at the plate.

With starting pitchers Daniel Murray, Justin Edens and ace Jaydon Berry returning, the Wildcats have a formidable pitching staff that will always give them a chance to win if the other aspects of the game are on point. This year the Wildcats had a staff ERA of 2.39. Prather had a lot to do with that. He pitched very well this season as both a starter and a reliever. But Edens, Murray and Berry also pitched well and should only get stronger with another year of growth and maturity heading into their senior seasons.

On the face of it, the Eminence Warriors softball team didn’t have much of a season with only 11 varsity games completed. But Warriors’ Coach Jerry Martin had his young team play a ton of JV, freshman and middle school games. They were pretty successful on those lower levels and the high school team managed to win four of the 11 games. They also almost upset Gallatin County in the district tournament for the second consecutive year. If the Warriors continue to improve, they could be a threat in coming seasons in the 31st District.

The Warriors baseball team had tough year with only three seniors on the roster and a bunch of freshmen and middle school players. The Warriors always seem to be in rebuilding mode, but this year they may actually have a coach who will stick around in Eric Metten whose son Marshall, a freshman, was the best hitter on the team. After six coaches in six years, hopefully a little stability in that position will make a big difference as Metten develops his young squad.