The Henry County Lady Cats went into their game on May 6 with the Carroll County Lady Panthers knowing that they would be the fourth seed in the district tournament but still wanting to prove something against the top-seeded Carroll County Lady Panthers who defeated them 10-3 earlier in the season.
The Lady Cats made a statement heading into district play by beating Carroll County 4-3 on a sacrifice fly by Cheyenne Clark in the bottom of the seventh inning that scored Aly Stanley with the winning run. Stanley led off the final inning with a triple to centerfield. After Olivia Whaley was called for stepping out of the box on a bunt attempt, Clark hit a fly ball to right field that was just deep enough to score Stanley on a close play at the plate.
Henry County scored the first run of the game in the top of the first when Clark hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield that scored Stanley. Stanley led off with a single, stole second and advanced to third on an error before scoring on Clark’s deep fly ball.
Carroll County came back with two unearned runs in the second inning to take the lead. The Lady Panthers scored the runs with one hit and two errors by the Lady Cats.
The Lady Panthers added to their lead in the third inning with a single that was misplayed into a triple. A suicide squeeze bunt scored the runner from third to make it 3-1.
Henry County got a run back in the bottom of the inning when Katie James tripled with one out and Stanley hit a fly ball to right field that scored her.
The Lady Cats tied it in the bottom of the fourth. Mikaela Cline and Haley Miles reached on consecutive errors by the Lady Panthers to lead off the inning. Madison Rabourn then doubled to centerfield to score Cline. The Lady Panthers were able to get out of further trouble by getting a strikeout and then a double play on a hard line drive by Stanley to left field.
Neither team could push across a run in the fifth and sixth innings although both teams got base runners in scoring position. The Lady Panthers got a two-out single in the seventh but a fly ball to left field ended the threat. That set up the last inning heroics of Stanley and Clark.
“Overall, I was pleased with our girls’ performance,” Coach Jon Kasten said. “Carroll is the number one seed in the district and hadn’t lost to anyone in the district. We came out and wanted to play and win this game.”
Kasten was happy with the performance of pitcher, Paige DeBurger.
“Paige did a great job in the pitcher’s circle,” he said. “She threw strikes and made their hitters hit to our defense and for the most part, we fielded the ball well. She never really got into trouble in the last three innings.
Kasten was also pleased with the defensive play of Molly Williamson.
“Molly continued her stellar play at third base with a few great plays,” Kasten said.
Finally, Kasten was pleased that his team found a way to win.
“I was happy with how we manufactured runs,” he said. “Three of our four runs came by sacrifice flies including the game winner. It is good that we are finding other ways to score runs.”
Presentation 6 HCHS 5
The Lady Cats returned to play the following day and dropped a heartbreaker when the Toppers scored on a suicide squeeze in the bottom of the eighth to get a come- from-behind win.
Presentation scored first in the bottom of the second inning before Henry County came back to get three runs in the third inning on a two-out three-run home run by Shelby Ray.
Henry County added two more runs in the top of the fourth on a double by Haley Miles.
Presentation pulled to within two runs in the bottom of the fourth with a triple and four consecutive two-out singles. The Lady Cats got out of further trouble in the inning when Stanley, who came on in relief of DeBurger, was able to strike out the final batter of the inning with the bases loaded.
The Lady Cats failed to score in the sixth and seventh and the Toppers came to bat in the bottom of the seventh needing two runs to tie and three to win.
The Lady Cats committed an error to start the inning. The next batter reached on a fielder’s choice to give Presentation two on with none out.
The third batter of the inning flew out before a single to left field loaded the bases.
Another single scored two runs to tie the game before Stanley retired the next two batters on strikeouts to send the game to extra innings.
In the top of the eighth the Lady Cats failed to push a run across setting up Presentation’s game-winning sacrifice bunt with one out.
“I wasn’t happy at all with how we finished this game,” Kasten said. “Being up 5-3 going into the last inning should be a position you like but when we don’t make routine outs, it’s easy to let a team back in. Instead of playing to win, we played to lose. It was a really disappointing loss.
Kasten was pleased with his team’s pitching.
“Paige started the game and threw well for five innings,” he said. “Their batters began to get their timing down and started to hit her pretty hard so we switched to Aly for the last few innings. Shelby Ray hit the ball well with a home run and Paige and Aly both pitched well, but our defense let us down.”
HCHS 15 Spencer 7
The story of this game was the Lady Cats’ hitting, particularly Cheyenne Clark, who had a home run and two doubles while going four for five and knocking in eight runs.
“Cheyenne had a monster game,” Kasten said. “She hit the ball hard every time up. Eight RBIs in one game is amazing.”
Overall the Lady Cats had 11 hits and were the beneficiaries of four walks and four Spencer County errors.
DeBurger and Stanley again shared the pitching duties and combined for nine strikeouts.
Clark’s home run was a three-run blast in a four-run second inning that gave the Cats a 5-1 lead.
After Whaley scored her second run of the game in the third inning, the Lady Bears came back to score four in the bottom of the inning to pull within 6-5.
After a scoreless fourth for both teams the Cats blew it open with four runs in the fifth. Stanley had a two-run double and Clark an RBI single in the inning.
After Spencer got a run back in their half of the inning, the Lady Cats added five in the sixth to put the game out of reach. Clark had a two-out three-run double to finish off the scoring and her own big day.
“Overall, I was pretty pleased with this game,” Kasten said. “We played smart defensively, but had a couple of physical errors. I thought both Aly and Paige did a good job pitching. At the plate, I was very pleased with our patience. I thought we waited for good pitches to hit and took some walks. This was a good bounce-back game from the Presentation game.”
Whaley, Ray and Stanley each scored three runs for the Lady Cats and Stanley added three RBIs.
HCHS 2 Trimble 1
The Lady Cats hosted the Lady Raiders on Friday night and hung on for a 2-1 win despite being outhit 8-4.
Trimble County threatened in the top of the first by getting two on with one out but a force play at third and a foul pop up got the Lady Cats out of trouble.
Henry County’s first scoring opportunity came in the third inning when Olivia Whaley led off with a double to left field. With one out Molly Williamson drew a walk to give the Lady Cats runners on first and second. But Trimble County got out of the jam with a strikeout and ground out.
The Lady Cats escaped Trimble County scoring threats in the fourth and fifth innings and then pushed across their first run.
Whaley singled to left field to open the inning. She advanced to second on a wild pitch and advanced to third on Stanley’s infield single. Whaley scored on a double steal when Stanley broke for second and beat the throw from the catcher.
The Lady Raiders got two on again in the sixth but Stanley, who relieved DeBurger in the fifth inning got a strikeout to end the inning with no damage done.
The Lady Cats added an important second run in their half of the inning. Whaley’s one-out sacrifice fly scored Clark from third base.
Trimble County finally broke through in the seventh. A one-out single and a two-out double gave them a run but a ground out to Whaley ended the game.
Kasten was happy with the way his team won this game.
“I thought it was a great game for us to win after the slugfest we had with Spencer the night before,” Kasten said. “It’s nice to be able to put wins together with two totally different types of games. It shows that we are starting to put it together.
“Olivia Whaley hit the ball very well with a double, a single and the deep fly ball that scored Cheyenne with what was ultimately the winning run. Molly Williamson had a huge defensive play when she caught the line drive and tagged the runner out to get us out of a huge jam early. Paige pitched well again and Aly came on in relief to get the save.”
Henry County improved to 12-13 with the win. Trimble County fell to 6-11.