By Tommie Kendall
The Henry County Ladycats didn't get as many wins as they would have liked at the Sports Warehouse Classic - the premier tournament in the state, held at Owensboro Catholic High School over the weekend - but it wasn't a complete disappointed either.
The Cats earned one win against "very tough" opponents, put themselves in position to win a few more games and, more importantly, improved their swing while facing some overpowering pitchers.
"Going 1-4 was not what we hoped for, but good things did come out of it," Henry coach Jon Kasten said after his team got back from the tournament, which fell at the tail end of Henry's Spring Break. "I thought our offense really came around. We hit the ball well up and down the lineup. We had good contact even on outs, which is what we've been focusing on these last couple of weeks."
Allison Vaughn led Henry at the plate during the two-day, five-game tournament, earning six hits out of 13 plate appearances. The Ladycats also saw solid hitting from Heidi Smith, Ashley Buck and Jessica Booher, Kasten said.
"I thought we hit the ball better than we have been," Kasten said. "We limited our strikeouts to five or below each game, and we made much better contact with the ball. I just thought we missed some opportunities."
The Warehouse Classic was set up with pool play, followed by a single-elmination tournament with a consolation game for those teams that lost in the opening round. Each team in the Classic was guaranteed at least five games.
The Ladycats opened up pool play Friday night against Evansville Mater Dei, taking a 8-6 loss. The Cats then lost to Daviess County (9-3) and Muhlenberg North (6-3) Saturday morning, which left them at 0-3 heading into the tournament.
While Henry was smacking the ball offensively, the squad was having problems on the defensive side of the ball with seven errors against Mater Dei, five against Daviess and four against Muhlenberg.
The Ladycats were ahead of Daviess 3-0 during the fifth inning, but costly mistakes allowed Daviess to go on a scoring stretch during the sixth inning, when the game was called due to the time-limit rule used during the tournament.
"I thought the teams in the tournament were just very good hitting teams, and we didn't play well defensively," Kasten said.
Henry drew Owensboro Catholic - a team that has won the state championship in 1998, 1999, 2003 and 2005 - in the first round of the tournament, and eventually took a 13-0 loss to the Owensboro squad, who went on to win the Classic.
Henry committed just one error in the contest, but Owensboro overpowered Henry from the pitcher's circle and at the plate.
"Owensboro might be the best hitting team we play all year," Kasten said. "They're very tough."
In the consolation game, Henry closed out with a 11-6 win over Lexington Bryan Station.
Henry did see a bright spot in pitcher Kaitlyn Foree, who sprained her throwing thumb against Oldham County March 29. The senior threw four of the five games and was close to 100 percent, Kasten said. The only game she didn't throw was against Muhlenberg North, when Booher was in the circle.
Following the Classic, Henry brought a 4-6 record into this week. The Ladycats played at Owen County Monday, at Carroll County - a team Henry defeated 10-0 last week - Tuesday, and will host Walton-Verona this Thursday. Game time is set for 5:30 p.m.
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