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SHEPHERDSVILLE – It has been written many times before, but for the 2014 Bullitt Central softball program, it is still true that ‘if it wasn’t for bad luck, there would be no luck at all.”
That is the way that first-year head coach Mike Phillips is seeing this season unfold. On a trip this past weekend to the Play It Again Classic in Clarksville, Tenn. the team’s two seniors both suffered injuries that severely limited the Lady Cougars’ ability to compete against some strong teams.
Playing four games in two days, the Lady Cougars ended up finishing 1-3.
First, senior catcher Haley Dukes suffered a hyper-extended shoulder during the week.
She can still hit, but can’t throw the ball so won’t be behind the plate for most of a month, but will be the team’s extra hitter.
That forced Phillips to move eighth-grader Brooklyn Benefield from second base to behind the plate and fellow middle-schooler Sierra Graham was inserted at second base.
Then, starting first baseman/pitcher Hailey Szpila rolled her ankle in the first tournament game. When the Lady Cougars’ other pitcher, sophomore Belle Leonard, came up with a sore shoulder while pitching, that forced Szpila to at least attempt to pitch with little ability to use her full wind-up.
While it might not seem like a silver-lining, the good news for the team was that they did get to play four games, something that has been hard to do because of the poor weather to this point during the season.
“We got to play a lot and a lot of players got time on the field,” Phillips said on Monday. “BB (Benefield) got behind the plate and did well and Sierra stepped up and played second base. Then Mouse (Szpila) and Belle played through their injuries. There were good points that came out of the trip.”
In the first game, Bullitt Central played the best team they would see in the tournament, dropping a 15-1 decision to Ezell-Harding, a team from Tennessee. The only run for the Lady Cougars came in the bottom of the fifth and last inning after Ezell-Harding had scored eight runs in the top of the fifth.
Bullitt Central did have seven hits in this game with five of the hits coming at the bottom of the line-up including two hits from Mckenzie Pruitt.
Because rain in Tennessee had delayed the start of the tournament by a few hours, Bullitt Central could play just one game on Friday. That forced the team back to the field at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning. That turned out to be the only win for the Lady Cougars as they turned back Metro-East, another Tennessee team, by a 5-3 count.
After a tough outing the night before, Leonard pitched a strong game in this one, giving up seven hits and no earned runs while striking out six batters. It was her first win of the season.
Metro-East led 2-0 after single runs in the third and fourth inning, but Bullitt Central forced an extra inning with two runs in the top of the fifth inning (the game would have ended because of the tournament time limit if it had not been tied). The Lady Cougars then scored three times in the top of the sixth to get the win.
Again, Bullitt Central got contributions from the bottom of the line-up as Pruitt, the number eight hitter in this game, had two hits and an RBI while Jessie Weiss, in the number nine spot, had two hits and two runs driven in. One of the hits from Weiss was a double.
Bullitt Central finished with seven hits in this game.
In the final game of ‘pool’ play, Bullitt Central dropped an 8-0 decision to Northeast, another team from Tennessee.
The Lady Cougars had just one hit in this game, a single by Kimberly Berthiaume.
Leonard was the starting pitcher in this game and when she ran into trouble in the third inning and the team already down 8-0, Phillips brought in Szpila to get one out. Then Leonard went back in the circle and finished the contest.
When bracket play started, Bullitt Central’s pitching corp was the walking wounded. Leonard started but because of the extra work her shoulder was hurting and she couldn’t go after the first inning. That meant Szpila had to pitch on a bum ankle for three innings before the game, a 4-3 loss to Lebanon, Tennessee was called by the time limit after Bullitt Central batted in the top of the fifth inning.
Bullitt Central finished with five hits in this game including a double from Leonard in the first inning when the team scored one run. After a run scored on two walks and a wild pitch in the third inning, the Lady Cougars had three hits in the fifth inning but could only get one run across the plate as Sara Noble scored on Szpila’s single.
Pruitt collected two of the five hits.
“We put the ball in play,” Phillips pointed out. “We’re not striking out too often. We’re just hitting it right at people while the other teams are finding the gaps.”
Bullitt Central ended the spring break trip with an overall 3-9 record. The team has another week to get the injuries better and to find the right formula before starting district play with a game next Wednesday at home against Southern.