• Rick Capone, Sports Editor

Lady Jackets win by mercy-rule over Western Hills

The Woodford County High School softball team was on its game against district rival Western Hills at home on Monday, May 9. Behind the pitching of junior Caitlin Karo no-hitter; two home runs in the second inning, the first by senior Caitlin Ferguson and the second by junior Ariel Dailey; along with strong defensive play, the Lady Jackets dominated the Lady Wolverines on the way to a 15-0 four-inning, mercy-rule victory. What satisfied Woodford head coach Sasha Turansky most about the game was the way her team scored its runs. “I was telling them, one of the things I was most excited about this game is that we started the (game the) way we’ve been preaching for them to start – we get one (runner) on, we move her over, we move her over again and then somebody gets her in,” said Turansky. “Early in the year we were really struggling. We’d get runners on and that would just be the end of it. We’d hit ground ball to short stop, ground ball to short stop, instead of moving … runners into scoring position and giving ourselves a chance to score. So, the fact that we’re kind of getting that a little bit under control is a good sign.” The game also marked the 100th career win for Turansky in just four years with the team. She currently has a career mark of 100-29. “It feels really good,” said Turansky about the milestone. “We came here four years ago to kind of turn a program around and build what was talent into a program and I think we’ve done that. To get the 100th win against a district rival in that kind of fashion (mercy rule win) feels really good.” With the win, Woodford is now 19-2 overall, 8-2 in the region and undefeated in the district with a 5-0 record and one game left to play against Franklin County. Karo got Western Hills out in order in the top of the first inning, and then in the bottom of the first, Woodford scored to take a 2-0 lead in the game. Ferguson led off with a single into center field, and then stole second with senior Morgan Grose at the plate. Grose then hit a grounder to first for an out, but advanced Ferguson into scoring position at third. Next up, junior Kyla Simpson hit a double into right field, which scored Ferguson for a 1-0 Woodford lead. Dailey then hit a hard bouncer to shortstop, which was misplayed and advanced Simpson to third and left Dailey safe at first. Two batters later, with junior Bethany Todd pinch hitting, a wild pitch scored Simpson for a 2-0 lead. In the top of the second inning, Woodford once again took care of business, as Western Hills just could not generate any offense. The only runner they got on base was when Karo hit the batter. But then she was caught trying to steal second, which nullified any scoring opportunity. Then in the bottom of the second, the Woodford batters put the game out of reach. Things started when sophomore Paige Hampton reached first when she out ran a slow ground ball to the shortstop. Eighth-grader Kasey Abel then came in as a courtesy runner, but then was put out when she was got hit by the ball on a hit by senior Lindsay Anderson, who made it safely to first. Sophomore Peyton Rose then hit a ball that went straight down into the ground, but the Lady Wolverines couldn’t make a play of it. As a result, Anderson advanced to second and Rose made it to first. Next, Ferguson came to the plate and blasted a three-run home run that cleared the center field fence by a wide margin and resulted in a 5-0 Woodford lead. Two batters later, Simpson reached first on a ground ball to the shortstop, who misplayed it. That brought Dailey to the plate and she crushed it, as she hit a long two-run, home run over the right field fence that gave the Lady Jackets a 7-0 lead. About the two home runs, Turansky said, “(Ferguson) just hit the crap out of (the ball). I mean it was just… both of them, Arial’s too. They were out (of the ball park), probably both, 225 (feet), if not more. And, in a district game, it’s huge because it helps put the other team away.” Neither team scored in the third inning, and then in the top of the fourth, Karo took care of business once again and got Western Hills out while only giving up one walk in the inning. In the bottom of the fourth, Woodford sent 11 batters to the plate and put six more runs on the board. Ferguson started things off with a single, and then stole second with Grose at bat. Grose then put down a nice bunt, which looked like an easy play. However, she made it safely to first when the first basemen missed the throw. Simpson then hit a line drive into right field, which scored Ferguson to make it 8-0 and advanced Gross to second base. Then, with Karo at the plate, a wild pitch allowed Gross to take third and Simpson second. Karo was then walked to load the bases. Abel then came in as a courtesy runner. Senior Bethany Todd next came in as a pinch hitter and hit a line drive single into center field, which scored Gross and Simpson to give the Lady Jackets a 10-0 lead. It also left Abel on third and senior Kristen Eads on first as a courtesy runner for Todd. Eads then stole second with Hampton at the plate. Hampton then hit a grounder to the shortstop and was thrown out, but allowed Abel to score to make it an 11-0 ball game. Anderson then hit a grounder to second base, which was misplayed and allowed Eads to score for a 12-0 lead and left Anderson safe at first. On the next play, Rose slapped a ball down the third base line and made it to first on an over thrown ball. In the misplay, Anderson made it around to score for a 13-0 Woodford lead. A long hit into center field by Ferguson for a double on the next play scored Anderson for the 14-0 lead, and two batters later after Gross was walked, Simpson hit a deep shot into right field to score Ferguson, which ended the game 15-0 by mercy rule. After the game, Turnasky talked about Karo’s pitching, as the junior is really coming back into form after being injured a good part of the last two years. “Caitlin’s been lights out,” said Turansky. “I mean, every thing’s been working for her; screw balls, curve balls, drops, change (ups). She just mixes it up so well right now and I’m really, really, really proud of her.” About her team’s pitching overall, Turansky said, “Pitching. I mean our team ERA is under 1.00 now or its right at 1.00. A lot of that has to do with great pitching, (and) great defense. We’re really kind of finding our stride right now. We’re settling in and really just making good things happen.” Turansky also noted the play of a couple other players in the game. “On defense, Lindsay (Anderson) played really well,” she said. “Kyla (Simpson) hit the ball really, really well. She was three for three. (Ferguson) was three for three. We’re playing really well right now. The whole team is playing really well right now. Every one, from top to bottom, kids on the bench, courtesy runners, pinch hitters, everyone is doing really well.”

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