PADUCAH – Graves County softball coach Scott Tucker said after Monday’s 2-0 First Region Tournament opening win that it’s the time of year when you don’t care how you win, you just want to win.
Tuesday, the Lady Eagles showed just how bad they wanted to win with a 10-0 semifinal victory against four-time regional champion McCracken County.
The win puts Graves in the championship game today against either Marshall County or Paducah Tilghman. Both teams were still playing in their semifinal as of presstime Tuesday. The championship is set for 6 p.m. at Paducah Tilghman's Sheppard's Field.
The Lady Mustangs had come back to take both of their regular season games against Graves County by a 9-7 margin and then 5-4 in eight innings at home. But in a “win-or-go-home” situation, the Lady Eagles took the field with confidence.
“They were confident and I was confident in the kids,” Tucker said.
Perhaps nowhere was that more evident than with pitcher Kristin Wimsatt. After throwing five innings Monday in the noon sun and allowing just three hits, no walks and striking out five Carlisle County batters, the John A. Logan-signee delivered a complete game Tuesday.
She allowed four hits, two walks and fanned only Alli Douglas, but it marked her second straight shutout.
“That’s two in a row, 0-0,” Tucker said. “That’s good pitching. Kristin was awesome.
“She was gassed (Monday). Little sister (Bailey Wimsatt) came in and pitched pretty well,” he added of Monday’s combined performance. “(Kristin) didn’t throw as many pitches and let her defense do the work so she could go the full seven and she was strong at the end.”
Graves County’s schedule, which has featured highly-ranked teams from Kentucky, Illinois, Alabama and Tennessee, also played an overall factor. A 7-10 start switched gears in mid-April and started humming by the end of the month to kick start a current 10-game win streak and 21-13 record.
Included in that stretch was a rally over defending First Region champ Marshall County, 7-6.
“With all the competition we’ve played, they’ve been up there,” Bailey Wilson said. “That game against Marshall really boosted our confidence and gave us the right mind that we can win the region.”
Wilson factored into that after Cassidy Payne drew a leadoff walk in the top of the first inning from McCracken starting pitcher Ally Hutchins. Wilson then hit a double into right field to score Payne.
The Lady Eagles clung tight to that thin lead much of the game until the fifth inning. A pair of singles off reliever Abigayle Duren and a walk loaded the bases for Wimsatt. She lined the ball into right field to score Carson Travis and Payne and get to second herself with Laney Shoulta stopped at third.
Neely Shoulta then launched her own shot into centerfield to bring home Laney and Wimsatt and reach second. Brittany Harrison’s hit to right got Neely home for a 6-0 lead.
An inning later and down two outs, Wilson hit a solo shot over the centerfield fence, which was followed by a pair of singles, a hit-by-pitch and Brittany Harrison reaching on an error by Hutchins at short. That error was enough to score both Laney Shoulta and Wimsatt, 9-0.
In the top of the seventh, Maddie Lynn got to first off an error by second baseman Emma Ballard. Courtesy runner Memphis Lassiter scored on Travis’ triple to right for the final margin that was solidified with two on and Neely Shoulta’s diving catch along the right field foul line.
Wimsatt was 3-for-4 at the plate, followed by Travis going 2-for-4 and Wilson 2-for-5.
It marked the third time McCracken County had lost to a First Region team since last year’s semifinal shocker against Ballard Memorial. It also equaled the largest margin the Lady Mustangs have fallen to with all three coming in this season, including a 10-0 loss to Niceville, Florida, and a 12-2 loss to Warren East.
But while the focus had been on knocking off the Goliath of McCracken, Tucker said that’s not the goal.
“We’re not done,” he said. “We didn’t come here just to beat McCracken. We came to win the Region 1 tournament.”