PADUCAH – Graves County coach Scott Tucker summed up Monday’s opening game of the First Region Softball Tournament, as well as today’s semifinal match with powerhouse McCracken County, this way:
“It’s that time of year when you don’t care how, you just want to win,” he said.
For a 20-13 Lady Eagle team that has been scoring just over eight runs per game during their eight-game win streak going into the tournament with Carlisle County, it was a bit odd to see them score just twice in a 2-0 win.
But both Lady Comet pitcher Allie Blackwell and Graves’ Kristin and Bailey Wimsatt were able to keep both teams on their heels, offensively. Kristin, a senior, went five innings and allowed all three of Carlisle’s hits while fanning five. Sister Bailey, a seventh-grader, closed out the final two frames with two Ks with neither pitcher walking a Lady Comet in the shutout.
Blackwell struck out seven, but walked four and gave up five hits. The runs came individually in the fifth and sixth innings.
“She moved it in, moved it out. We never figured out how, we just figured out enough,” Tucker said of his team’s at-bats.
In the fifth, Carson Travis singled to left field. Cassidy Payne put down a bunt that was handled and overthrown to first base. On to second base, Travis headed to third and raced home on the throw to first as Payne advanced to second.
An inning later, Maddie Lynn’s courtesy runner Memphis Lassiter stole second, then raced home off Travis’ single to shortstop Lilyan Shehorn.
“With (Lassiter’s) speed, the kid’s down on the ground and I was like ‘Go!’,” Tucker recalled. “We’ve got to get that insurance run. You never know what’s going to happen.”
“You never know what’s going to happen” has been the underlying psyche for the team during this win streak with close wins over Calloway County (6-5), a comeback against Marshall County (7-6), and then holding off Marion, Illinois, 8-7.
Tonight, Graves County faces McCracken County, which downed Calloway County 6-0 Monday. Game time is set for 6 p.m. at Paducah Tilghman’s Sheppard Field.
The Lady Eagles have lost to the Lady Mustangs twice this season. But in those games, Graves had let a 4-2 lead slip away for a 5-4 loss, as well as a 7-6 lead vanish for a 9-7 defeat.
“We’re going to give them everything we’ve got,” Tucker said. “We had chance to beat them both times and we didn’t finish it off. Obviously, we’d like to finish one off.”