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The Henry County Lady Cats stole the momentum in the top of the first off two Carroll County errors and never looked back, defeating the Lady Panthers 6-3 in the 31st District Tournament semifinals Tuesday, May 21. Henry met Gallatin in the District Championship, and the Lady Wildcats came out victorious, 8-3.
The Lady Panthers committed six errors and struggled to string together hits on offense. Two of their three runs came on solo homerun blasts by Mackenzie Ogden and Kayla Williamson.
“We didn’t get enough hits, we made a few mistakes,” head coach Dennis Hawkins said. “Take nothing away from Henry County. They played a hell of a game. They were ready to win; they wanted to win. They did not let down. Every batter was up there ready to hit the ball as hard as they could and take it to us.”
Henry jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first, but Ogden cut it in half with her leadoff home run off an 0-2 pitch over the centerfield fence. Williamson and Mackenzi Hawkins followed with a walk and a single, respectively, but they were left on base.
Lady Cats leadoff Shelby Ray reached on an error and Madison Raybourn followed with a bunt single. The left side duo of third baseman Kelsey Ogden and shortstop Mackenzie Ogden succeeded in picking off the lead runner heading to third, giving the Lady Panthers two outs. But Henry still came away with a run off an RBI single up the middle by Alyson Stanley, 3-1.
Carroll went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the second, bringing Henry back to the plate. With two outs, Raybourn hit a two-RBI single to centerfield to stretch the lead, 5-1.
Tempers were starting to run high in the dugout heading into the bottom of the third, but Williamson rallied the troops and gave the team hope by hitting a first-pitch bomb over the leftfield fence, 5-2.
After committing two errors to start the fourth, the Lady Panthers defense tightened up and pitcher Sarah Hawkins forced a fly out with bases loaded to end the inning.
Both teams went three-and-out in their next trips to the plate, bringing up the bottom of the fifth.
Brittany Yocum hit a leadoff single up the middle and advanced on a passed ball. Haley Dermon drew a walk, and both runners advanced into scoring position on another passed ball. Unfortunately, the potential rally stonewalled as Yocum got caught in a pickle between third and home plate, and the next two batters got out.
The Lady Cats scored in the top of the sixth as Samantha Head hit a leadoff single and scored off a blooper over third base by Paige Deburger, 6-2.
The next batter, Krista Deburger, hit a groundball to Williamson at second base, who tagged out the runner and made the throw to first for a double play to end the inning.
The Lady Panthers threatened in the bottom half, loading the bases, but could not manage to bring a runner across the plate. The defense held in the top of the seventh, as Williamson fielded a grounder and Sarah Hawkins struck out the last two batters looking.
In their last chance at the plate, Dermon hit a leadoff single up the middle, and Mackenzie Ogden reached on a Lady Cat error. With one out, Mackenzi Hawkins hit a SAC fly to right center to score Dermon for the Lady Panthers’ final run of the season, 6-2.
Coach Hawkins said he was proud of the way Sarah Hawkins pitched in the middle of the game and blamed himself for a few wrong pitching calls.
However, overall Hawkins said he was very disappointed in the way the game turned out. “I did everything I thought I needed to do to get them prepared,” he said, “but evidently there is a trick there that a coach knows how to do it that I don’t or I just didn’t get it done.”
After the game, he said he told the team he did not feel like they met their potential this season. “I blame me for it because that’s the coach’s responsibility, to get the potential out of their players.”
The Lady Panthers end the season just above .500 at 13-12. They were 11-7 against 8th Region opponents, 4-4 in 31st District play.