Lady Chargers run out of gas in tourney final

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By Mike Farner

LOUISVILLE - One of the first things that Ricky Hoffman noted when he got the job as the Bullitt East softball coach in February was that the team did not have a spring break tournament on the schedule.

Some quick calls and emails landed the team in the Southern Softball Bash at Southern High School. While the event turned out to have a few scheduling mishaps, the total tourney ended up being a positive for the Lady Chargers as they posted a 4-1 record, losing in the championship game to a team from Tennessee.

“Overall, the tourney was positive,” Hoffman said over the weekend of getting the team on the field and playing games after practicing earlier in the week. “They surprised us getting to the final. They learned how to win those close games. We had the three good days of practice and now we’re ready for the district.”

Bullitt East starts district play on Thursday of this week when they travel to Bullitt Central.

That is actually the first official game in district play. Because of the scheduling problems in last week’s tournament, Bullitt East ended up playing district rival Southern twice. Those two games won’t count in the seeding process for the post-season tournament.

“We got the number one seed and that was important,” Hoffman said of going undefeated in pool play. “We played very well the first game. Then Saturday was just one of those days. We were not as focused. We hit the ball all over the field in the final, but our defense was not there.”

Bullitt East was going fairly well on Saturday in the semi-finals in the second game against Southern in 18 hours. The red and gold were up 3-0 before the Lady Trojans loaded the bases with two outs. A pop fly to shallow left field led to a collision between shortstop LaVella Hall and left fielder Mericate Small. Small suffered a dislocated shoulder on the play and laid on the field (as he shoulder was popped back into place) before an ambulance arrived.

Small later returned for part of the final with her arm in a sling and a bruised shoulder. She will miss play this week.

Bullitt East ended up winning that game 4-3, but then fell in the final to Macon County, Tennessee 13-8.

Tournament play started on Thursday with two games. Bullitt East needed two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning (the final inning because of the time limit) to beat St. Joseph Academy (OH.) 3-2.

That sixth inning started with Kirsten Price singling and then Kayla Owen ran for her, moving to second on Small’s sacrifice bunt. Erin Manns followed that with a single and she went to second on the throw to third base where Owen was safe.

Pitcher Jamie Lutes followed that with a ground ball to the shortstop that allowed Owen to score from third and tie the game. Brook Hammons then followed that with a single up the middle to score the winning run.

Lutes pitched a complete game, allowing seven hits and only one earned run.

Bullitt East ended up with eight hits including two singles each from Kirsten Price and Hammons.

The second game on Thursday was a route as it took just five innings to roll past Trimble County 11-0. Lutes was the winning pitcher with three innings of work while Morgan Raymer was in the circle for the last two frames.

Bullitt East pounded out 13 hits including a home run by Hall and doubles from Rachel Simms, Kirstin Price and Jenna Simms. Taylor Price, both of the Simms sisters and Lutes had two hits in the win.

On Friday, Bullitt East faced Southern for the first time and Lutes was in complete control with a no-hitter that Bullitt East won 5-0. The sophomore pitcher did walk four while striking out four.

The Lady Chargers had just four hits including a double from Kaylee McClure.

In the first game of elimination play on Saturday, Bullitt East turned back Southern once again in the 4-3 game. Lutes allowed just three hits, but did walk six.

Taylor Price had two of the four hits for the red and gold including a triple.

That set up the championship game with Macon County.

Bullitt East collected 12 hits including a triple by Taylor Price. Hall had a pair of doubles while Kirsten Price, Kayla Payne and Hammons each had a double. Kirsten Price finished with three hits while Payne, Hall and Hammons each had two hits.

Lutes did the pitching and allowed just six hits before leaving with one out in the fifth inning. Raymer worked the rest of the game, giving up four hits.