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Top-ranked ladies struggle, lose in districts

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By Kristin Beck

The young Lady Panthers struggled on the big stage, committing six errors and losing 8-2 to Owen County in the second round of the 31st District tournament Tuesday, May 22 at Gallatin County High School.

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“The game speaks for itself,” head coach Dennis Hawkins said. “They outsmarted us, outplayed us, outhit us, out defensed us, out pitched us — whatever else you can come up with, they out did it.”

The No. 1 ranked Lady Panthers received a bye in the first round, and Owen defeated Eminence in the opening round to advance. The Lady Rebels went on to play Gallatin County in the district championship, but came up short, 3-2. They took on Oldham County in the opening round of the 8th Region tournament, but lost 10-0 in six innings.

Heading into the district matchup, Carroll’s strategy was to interchange the team’s three pitchers to try and keep the Lady Rebels off-balance. Unfortunately, fielding errors led to too many runs for the strategy to work.

“We missed routine plays, should have had several double plays and ended up blowing it,” Hawkins said. “We just weren’t ready to play. I thought we (were).”

Sarah Hawkins started and ended the game on the mound, with Mackenzie Ogden and Perry making appearances in between.

In the top of the third, down 2-0 and with bases loaded, Kelsey Ogden fielded a groundball at third base, stepped on the bag and threw to first, but the ball sailed on her. With two runners on, Hannah Neeley stepped to the plate and blasted a three-run homer over centerfield, 6-0. Lindsey Robertson followed with a groundball to shortstop, but was called safe after a dropped catch at first. She advanced on a groundout and a passed ball and scored on an RBI fly-out by Shelby Gambrell, 7-0. Kelsey Ogden scooped up a grounder by the next batter to end the inning.

The Lady Panthers came up empty in the bottom half of the inning, and neither team scored in the fourth. The Lady Rebels plated their final run in the top of the fifth when Miranda Owens scored on an RBI groundout by Lita Swigert.

Carroll found its fight in the bottom of the sixth. Brittany Yocum led off with a walk to get on board, and, with two outs, Kayla Williamson hit a single down the leftfield line. With two runners on,Kelsey Ogden hit a two-RBI-double off the left field fence, 8-2.

But it was too little, too late, as the Lady Panthers could not overcome their previous mistakes.

Carroll finished the season at .500 across the board – 17-17 overall, 11-11 in the region and 5-5 in the district. The girls showed flashes of brilliance during the season, with landmark wins over Grant County and South Oldham. The team will lose just one senior – Kayley Perry – to graduation.