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The SCHS softball team isn't too worried about facing No. 1 Christian County in the opening round of the State Softball Tournament this morning at Owensboro.
"We get number one in the first round, so if we beat them, we'll just breeze through," senior Haleigh LeCompte said jokingly
The girls know that the tournament is full of top teams, especially in their half of the bracket, in which seven of the eight are in the top 30. But even with No. 1 and all the other top teams, the Lady Rockets' focus won't change.
"We'll try to get some information on their [Christian County's] hitters, but our main focus will be on how we're playing," SCHS Coach Kelly Cable said. "Obviously Christian County is good, so we just have to go out and play our game."
The Lady Colonels rely on solid pitching and timely hitting, having allowed just 35 runs in 41 games this season.
"We don't wow you out there," Christian County Coach David Joiner said. "But our pitching's been good all year, and that's a start at making your defense good. Then we just make the routine plays behind them."
Christian County will rotate junior pitchers Hannah Driver and Stacey Harbold.
"We've tried to develop both of them rather than use one against all the top competition," Joiner said. "That way, if we got back to state, they both would have been exposed to a high level of competition."
"We just have to put the ball in play and make them get us out," Cable said. "Hopefully we can take advantage of any miscues they might make."
Cable does think her team is ready to explode offensively.
"We're hitting the ball really well right now," she said. "We faced a lot of strong pitchers in the district and region, so I think we're ready."
The Lady Rockets upped their team average from .328 during the regular season to .340 during the district and region, and seven players are hitting over .300 in the postseason, including Shauna Gramig's team-leading .467.
That has led to their scoring nearly twice as many runs per game - up to 8.8 from 4.9.
Even with just one senior on the team, Christian County holds the edge in experience. The Lady Colonels have played in the last two State Tournaments, going 5-4 during the past two years. However, both years Christian County lost to eventual state champion Greenwood in the first round.
"We know a thing or two about bad luck in the draw," Joiner said. "That's just like what our half of the bracket is this year. It's so strong, I think every team in it has a shot to win state."
Though Christian County looked at playing No. 1 as bad luck the last two years, the Lady Rockets see it as an opportunity.
"We're looking forward to it," Gramig said. "It's going to give us a chance to open some people's eyes."
Cable agreed, "It's an opportunity to gain some respect and show the girls that they're capable of playing with the best and beating them."
Though Christian County's record (38-3), and statistics will open a lot of eyes, their coach knows that right now those things don't mean much.
"Everybody talks about record and experience, but typically in game ones everybody's emotions run high," Joiner said. "You just have to settle in and hope that momentum comes out on your side.
"We know Shelby County has a power pitcher and a spin pitcher, they've played good competition, and we're going to have to play well to beat them. On paper, it looks like a fine ball game."
With a record not much above .500 (19-13), the Lady Rockets’ overall mark won’t strike fear in anyone, but Cable agreed that records don’t mean much now.
“We’re ready to show everybody that our record is because of our tough schedule, and that it’s gotten us ready to play at this level this weekend.”
Lady Rockets’ hot bats
In the postseason, nearly every Lady Rocket has seen her average increase. That improved plate presence along with some clutch hitting are what have increased Shelby’s runs average. Here’s a rundown of the SCHS offense through the playoffs.
Player Avg. OBP LH RBI R
Dee Dee Davis: .313, .750, 2, 4, 8
Haleigh LeCompte: .353, .588, 2, 5, 7
Shauna Gramig: .467, .867, 1, 5, 6
Hannah Stucker: .313, .375, 2, 3, 2
Hannah Abbott: .294, .470, 2, 3, 5
Taylor Shaw: .385, .615, 0, 3, 6
Farren Holland: .357, .500, 1 (HR), 5, 3
Katie Case: .375, .438, 1, 3, 4
Courtney Tinsley: .188, .313, 0, 0, 2
KEY: batting average, on-base percentage, long hits (extra-base hits), RBIs, runs scored