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OWENSBORO – After a quick start, the Lady Rockets couldn’t hold Ashland Blazer back.
The girls saw a 2-0 lead turn into a 6-2 deficit before scoring twice late in the game to trim the final margin to 6-4.
The loss knocked Shelby County from the softball State Tournament Friday, ending the Lady Rockets’ season.
Early on it looked as if the Lady Rockets would rebound from a tough first-round loss to Christian County.
In the top of the first, Dee Dee Davis walked, stole second and third and then scored on Haleigh LeCompte’s single. LeCompte then scored on Hannah Abbott’s fielder’s choice.
However, the girls lost their focus a in the second, committing five errors and allowing three runs on just one hit.
“The wheels just fell off in the second, and we just couldn’t get back,” SCHS Coach Kelly Cable said. “We just didn’t play our best like we had been.”
Ashland added another run in the third and a two more in the fourth to take a 6-2 lead.
The Lady Rockets looked like they may come back in the sixth, but a questionable call left Cable and the team wondering.
Hannah Abbott and Taylor Shaw led the inning off with back-to-back singles, and Farren Holland followed with a grounder to shortstop. Ashland's shortstop threw to third for the force out, but the third baseman dropped the ball.
The third base umpire called the runner out, saying the drop was on the transfer out of the glove for a throw.
So instead of bases loaded with no outs, the Lady Rockets were left with runners and first and second with one out and a frustrating loss of momentum.
“I couldn’t see it that she bobbled the ball because I was behind [the third baseman],” said Cable who was coaching third at the time. “And she had her back to the umpire [who made the call] as well. He told me we couldn’t appeal it [to another umpire]. I don’t think that’s right.
"Who knows how much that the play hurt us? We’ll never know. With no outs and the bases loaded, though, I like our chances.”
The Lady Rockets instead came away with just one run in the inning, when Taylor Shaw scored on a wild pitch.
The girls threatened again in the seventh. Shauna Gramig reached on a two-base error by the center fielder and scored on Abbott’s two-out single up the middle.
But the Lady Rockets would get no closer.
“We came out strong like we had been, and I had a good feeling [at the start],” Cable said. “But we never could get that clutch hit or out when we needed it. We just had some bad timing on some bad luck this weekend.”
One Lady Rocket who did shine on the big stage was Davis, their junior second baseman. She went 5-for-6 with two walks in the two games, including a 3-for-3 effort in the opener.
“She hit the ball the way I thought she could hit it all year,” Cable said. “Every time she went to the plate, I just knew she’d be on base.”
Although Cable added that she felt that way about all the Lady Rockets.
“They’re all capable of playing like that,” she said.
Though the season didn’t end in the state championship game, Cable noted that the girls should hold their heads high.
“I’m very proud of what this team accomplished this year, winning the district and region,” she said. “I can’t wait for next year.”
Although the girls lose big-time players LeCompte, Gramig, Holland and Katie Case, Cable is excited about what returns.
“We lose a lot, a whole lot, but we have six starters back next year, and it will be an exciting year. No doubt we’ll be back here [in Owensboro] next year.”