OKOLONA - Another Sixth Region Softball Tournament and another easy win for the Bullitt East Lady Chargers.
In the three years since head coach Ricky Hoffman has turned around the Lady Charger softball program, the team has won three district titles and then opened Sixth Region play with three wins. That three victories were by a combined 33-0 margin.
The third straight shut-out came on Monday as the Lady Chargers rolled past Presentation 15-0 in a game that was halted with two outs in the third inning when Bullitt East scored the final run needed before the ‘mercy’ rule was put into effect.
A year ago, Bullitt East beat Presentation by the exact same score in a game that also was stopped in the third inning.
Because of the hot weather over the Memorial Day weekend, Jefferson County tournament managers had rescheduled the Sixth Region Tournament, starting the first games at 9 a.m. Bullitt East took the field at 11 a.m. for the second game and finished as the temperatures soared past 90 degrees.
The hot weather didn’t seem to bother the Lady Chargers. The red and gold took care of business and then were ready for the semi-finals where they were to face Holy Cross, a team that also recorded a 15-0 decision as they crushed Doss.
Hoffman had set the same goals for this game as he had done in the first game of the district tournament - focus, fight and finish. The coach didn’t think his team had finished well in that game against Southern which they still won 12-3, but they did it all well on Monday.
“That’s what it was. We knew what we had to do and we did it,” the coach said. “What we just talked about was that we won 15-0 last year and then didn’t show up in the next game (a 7-0 loss to Pleasure Ridge Park). We need to be focused and ready for Holy Cross.”
There was no overlooking Presentation despite the fact that the Toppers had won only nine games during the regular season against a weak schedule.
“They know that in a given day that anything can happen,” Hoffman pointed out. “I brought up the Fairdale game this year. We thought we were the team then, but needed extra innings and only won 6-5. They had to think that Prez was the best team in the region.”
Bullitt East may have needed to think that, but that was certainly not the case. The Toppers started one pitcher in the first game, but then switched to another after Bullitt East scored six times in the first inning as they sent 11 batters to the plate.
For the game, Bullitt East only had ten hits. The Lady Chargers were helped along by four Presentation errors, six walks and one hit batter.
The first four Bullitt East hitters in the game actually did collect hits. Nikki Hinkley led off the bottom of the first with a single and after Taylor Price reached on an infield hit, Rachel Simms drove home the first run with a single. Kristen Price followed that with a double that score two more runs. From that point the rout was on.
Bullitt East had the double by Kristen Price and in the second inning Bri Hare added a triple. For the game, Kristen Price, Kaylee McClure and Hare each had two hits.
The win will officially go down as a no-hitter for Bullitt East pitchers Jamie Lutes and Morgan Raymer, but that wasn’t important after the game. Lutes pitched the first two innings and allowed the only base runner, walking the lead-off hitter in the second inning. Raymer, who is working her way back from a severely sprained ankle, pitched the third inning, striking out two of the three batters she faced.
“I was hoping to get all three of them some work,” Hoffman said of using pitchers Lutes, Raymer and Loren Roby. “We were thinking 2-2-1, but it didn’t work out that way. Morgan looked good. We might need all three down the road at some point.”
Bullitt East will take a 26-9 record, the best in the Sixth Region, into the semi-finals Wednesday against Holy Cross in a game that will be played at Ulmer Stadium on the campus of the University of Louisville. That game is set for 7:30 p.m.
In the other semi-final, Butler and Pleasure Ridge Park will collide in a game set for 5 p.m. on Wednesday.