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Mercy outlasts East - Again

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Softball

By Mike Farner

 LOUISVILLE – Missed chances early in the game came back to haunt Bullitt East on Monday night in another classic match-up with 24th District rival Mercy.

This time it took 11 innings before the Jaguars pushed across the only run of the game. This came on the heels of last season’s district final at Bullitt East that went to the 12th inning before Mercy pulled out a 4-3 victory.

In fact, this was the third straight meeting over the past two seasons between the two programs that has ended with Mercy winning by a single run.

This turned into a classic pitcher’s duel between Bullitt East senior Morgan Raymer and her Mercy counterpart, junior Leigh Ellen-Thomas. Raymer actually threw 51 fewer pitches than Ellen-Thomas, but the Mercy left-hander struck out 23 batters and allowed only two hits.

Raymer gave up five hits while striking-out 14 batters. No Mercy runner reached third base until the 10th inning when the ‘international’ rule was put into play and each team started the inning with a runner at second base.

Neither team committed an error.

Finally, after Bullitt East left a runner stranded at third base in the top of the 11th, Mercy found just enough offense to win the game.

The final frame started with Mercy’s Tori Lasley on second base after she ended the previous inning hitting into a double play. Courtney Ellington was at the plate and she chopped Raymer’s pitch into the dirt in front of the plate. Bullitt East catcher Kelsey Gravens came up throwing but Lasley slid safely into third.

Sam Dykes, Mercy’s number nine hitter, was next and the junior lined a shot through the left side of the infield that allowed Lasley to dart home with the winning run.

It was just another frustrating loss for Bullitt East.

“We couldn’t get a hit and couldn’t lay down a bunt,” veteran Lady Charger head coach Ricky Hoffman said after the game. “We had our opportunities like last year.

“Still, it was just a regular season loss,” the coach added. “This is one we can learn from for down the road.”

In the first inning, Bullitt East left a runner stranded at second base and then in the third inning Shelby Harris walked in front of a single by Shelby Maros. After a groundout moved the runners to second and third, Morgan Raymer walked to load the bases with one out. Thomas got out of that jam by striking out the next two batters – Gravens and Kayla Raymer.

In the sixth, Morgan Raymer and Gravens each walked to start the frame. Both runners moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Kayla Raymer, but they were left stranded when Thomas got a strikeout and a soft liner to end the threat.

Bullitt East also got a runner to third in the top of the 11th. Maros started on second and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Lindsey Renneisen, but Thomas struck-out the Raymer sisters to set up the winning run in the bottom of the inning.

“We told them that if we played great defense and were aggressive at the plate that we would win,” Hoffman said. “We did the defensive job, but we didn’t do it at the plate.”

Long Weekend

Hoffman knew that this was going to be a tough two-week stretch for his team and he planned it that way. After starting the season 13-1 and being undefeated within the state of Kentucky, the Lady Chargers lost at Ballard last Wednesday 9-3.

Then, on an overnight trip to Bowling Green to play in the Border Battle at Greenwood High School, the red and gold went 2-2 including an 8-0 loss to the state’s top-ranked team this season, McCracken County.

Unfortunately, Hoffman had been ejected from the Ballard game so could not coach in the two games on Friday against Larue County, a 5-0 win, and McCracken County. He was back in the dugout on Saturday as the Lady Chargers beat Muhlenberg County 8-0 before falling to Franklin-Simpson 5-3.

“Our defense was horrible and we were undisciplined at the plate,” Hoffman said of the report he got from his assistant coaches on Friday. “Then on Saturday against Franklin-Simpson we left runners on base in four of the seven innings.

“We just didn’t get the big hits,” the coach lamented. “We played well enough to win.”

The tough games will continue this weekend as Bullitt East hosts the TeamBrandon Triangle on Saturday. Defending state champion Greenwood will play at noon against the Lady Chargers and will then take on Pleasure Ridge Park at 1:30 p.m. Bullitt East will then battle PRP at 3 p.m. that day.

Bullitt East has postponed a game that was scheduled for Thursday against Bullitt Central. The Lady Cougars are banged up at this point and both coaches want the game played with as many of the top players as possible. The coaches are looking for a date during the last week of the regular season.