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SHEPHERDSVILLE – After the first thee weeks of the high school softball season, the Bullitt Central Lady Cougars had played just two games.
That number got somewhat better last week as the maroon and gray got on the field for three games including a key 23rd District game against county-rival North Bullitt, a game that Bullitt Central was able to win 6-4 on Wednesday.
That action was enough to lave the Lady Cougars with a 4-1 record heading into a week in which the team was set to battle Bullitt East on Tuesday and the continue into the weekend where the squad was set to battle in the Bullitt County Invitational.
Before beating North Bullitt, the Lady Cougars rolled past Jeffersontown 15-5. Then after the win over the Lady Eagles, Bullitt Central scored five times in the top of the seventh inning to beat Atherton 16-2.
Just getting on the field and competing was a big plus for Bullitt Central head coach Buddy Gallemore who early in the week had told the girls that this would be his final season at the helm as he had accepted a graduate assisant position at Eastern Kentucky University.
“It was definitely good to get in some games,” the veteran coach said over the weekend. “I got an email from Atherton on Thursday saying that they didn’t think we could play on Friday. I’m glad they were able to get the field ready. I’m glad we got on the field.
Getting the first win in the four-team district was important with the victory over North Bullitt.
In fact, against North Bullitt, the Lady Cougars were in a big hole when the Lady Eagles scored three runs in the top of the first inning. Bullitt Central did answer with two runs in the bottom of the first inning and then regained control of the game with four runs in the bottom of the second. North Bullit did not score again until a single run in the final frame.
Both teas finished with 11 hits, but North Bullitt had four errors to just two for Bullitt Central.
Bullitt Central junior pitcher Haley Szpila was the winning in the game as she worked a complete game. Three of the four runs were earned, but Szpila did not walk a batter and struck out one.
After North Bullitt got three runs in the first, Bullitt Central’s comeback started against sophomore pitcher Taylor Hayes with two outs in the bottom of the first. It was then that Szpila doubles and then came home on Haley Dukes’ single. Xxx Pruitt ran for Dukes, the catcher, and she later moved up on Selena Yunt’s single and scored on an error.
In the second, Bullitt Central kept the pressure on when Dana Johnson was hit by a pitcher and then moved to second on Belle Leonard’s single. When North Bullitt’s throw to third was wild, Johnson came home with the tying run. The next batter, Sarah Noble, then doubled with Leonard scoring on another throwing error with Noble going to third. The next run then scored on Darian Deaver’s sacrifice fly.
Szpila the reached on an error and she moved into scoring position by stealing both second and third base. Dukes then drove her home with a double.
The only negative for Bullitt Central was that they left ten runners on base including seven over the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.
“That was kind of a problem,” Gallemore said. “We had chances to blow it open and we didn’t do that.”
After not playing for almost two weeks, Bullitt Central had gotten on the field the previous day with a 15-5 win over Jeffersontown in a game that was stopped after five innings.
Szpila allowed just one earned run in five innings of work, but the Lady Cougars did commit two errors in the fourth inning that allowed four runs to score. Szpila allowed 11 hits, but did not walk a batter while striking out two.
Bullitt Central answered with 13 hits including three hits each off the bats of Noble and seventh-grader Brooklyn Benefield. Mallory Wiseman had two hits and along with Dukes drove in three runs. Dukes, Szpila and Leonard each had a double.
The week ended with another blow-out win for the Lady Cougars as they blasted Atherton 16-2. The game did got seven innings as the maroon and gray didn’t gain a double-digit lead until scoring five runs in the top of the seventh inning.
Still, the game was 9-0 after three innings so the outcome was never in doubt.
Szpila got her third win of the week as she allowed only four hits. Neither of the two runs was earned as the junior struck out nine and walked two.
Bullitt Central collected 12 hits in the game and they were helped around by six Atherton errors.
Noble collected four of those hits and with a triple was able to drive home three runs. Dukes finished with two hits including a double and Leonard also had a double. Deaver had a pair of sacrifice flies in the win.
Szpila isn’t blowing opponents away at the plate, but she is not walking many and the defense is making the plays behind her.
“She’s not over pitching and she’s not walking a lot. That’s all you can ask,” Gallemore said. “She is putting it in play and letting the defense take care of the rest.”
Bullitt Central had a key game on Tuesday of this week at Bullitt East and the two county rivals will both take part in the Bullitt County Invitational on Friday and Saturday. All of the games will be at Bullitt East on Friday before the tournament play shifts to Bullitt Central on Saturday with the championship game set for 6 p.m.