Henry County’s record-setting softball season came to a screeching halt Monday afternoon in the opening round of the 8th Region tournament as Walton-Verona handed the Ladycats a 4-1 loss this Memorial Day.
The Ladycats won the 8th Region All “A” Classic, finished fourth at the state tournament for the smallest 125 schools in Kentucky, won their fourth straight 31st District title and finished with the most wins in school history with their 24-12 mark. But they had a tough time against Walton-Verona Monday night in the season finale.
The opening-round games, hosted by Shelby County High School, were delayed throughout the day thanks to rain that continued to sweep through the area. Henry, the winners of the 31st District, and Walton-Verona, the runners-up from the 32nd District, were scheduled to play at 2 p.m. but were pushed back to around 4:30. Walton scored once in the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh innings, while Henry managed to score its lone run in the bottom of the fifth.
In the top of the fourth inning, with the score still knotted up at 0, the first two Walton-Verona batters reached base, were moved to second and third on a bunt, and one run scored when Henry elected to throw the girl out at first on another bunt attempt — the base runner from third base got a good jump and was almost home when Henry fielded the ball. Walton-Verona took its first lead, 1-0, after four and a half innings and never trailed.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Ladycats loaded the bases but could not get any players across home plate. Amanda Wilson led off with a single (Katie Mertz came in as a courtesy runner for the catcher), Taylor Clark walked and Krista DeBurger hit a shot to the outfield to put a player on each bag with one out. But the next batter struck out and Mertz was called out on a force play at the plate to leave Henry empty handed in what could have been a game-altering bat.
Walton-Verona scored again in the top of the fifth inning when a player was walked, stole second and a mishandled throw to first base allowed her to score. In the bottom of the inning, the Ladycats managed to squeeze in one run. With the top of the order due up, Jessica Booher, Veronica Hornback and Wilson drew walks to load the bases with one out. Clark then hit a grounder and Booher was thrown out at the plate, but the ball was overthrown to the first baseman which allowed Hornback to cross home plate on the same play. That was Henry’s lone run as Walton-Verona went on to score security runs in both the sixth and seventh innings.
While Henry ended its season at 24-12, Walton-Verona improved to 22-15. Other opening-round games were Oldham County over Owen County (11-2), Simon Kenton over Anderson County (6-2), and Shelby County over South Oldham (7-0). Oldham and Simon Kenton played Tuesday at 6 p.m., Walton-Verona and Shelby played Tuesday at 8 p.m., and the finals is Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. The winner moves on to the state tournament.
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