In a superb pitching duel between two seniors, Brittany Todd of the fifth-ranked Woodford County High School softball team and Hailey Whitmer of No. 10 Butler, the Lady Jackets managed to score one run in the bottom of the sixth inning to win the game, 1-0. “The game today was incredible,” said Woodford head coach Les Anderson. “Outstanding effort by Bethany Todd in the circle. … Offensively, we struggled a little bit, but Hailey Whitmer (of Butler) is a Division I-committed pitcher (Northern Kentucky). She’s a quality player. We knew coming in that we were going to have to generate a run, to create a run, and we did. “… Overall, an outstanding effort. Defensively, we were really good. Offensively, these are the kind of games we’ve got to play. We’ve got to play against the best pitchers in the state and Butler’s in the Top 10 in the state. We knew it was going to be a tough ball game and I’m extremely pleased that the kids had the tenacity to get through it.” With the win, Woodford remains undefeated with a 3-0 overall record and a 2-0 region record. Todd, who has signed with the University of Kentucky, faced 22 batters, struck out 18, while only giving up one hit, one walk and one hit batter. Whitmer, who has signed with Northern Kentucky, pitched six innings and had 10 strike outs, while only giving up two hits. The game remained scoreless through the first two innings, but in the top of the third, the Bearettes had their best chance to get a run, as they got a player in scoring position after she was hit by a pitch, stole second and reached third on an overthrow. Then, with their best hitter at the plate in Whitmer, Todd threw a changeup that went into the dirt. Junior catcher Paige Hampton blocked the pitch, but it rolled about three feet away from the plate. The runner (on third) took off for home, but, according to Anderson, “Paige easily beat her to the plate for the last out of the inning. It was a huge play in this game. Hailey Whitmer is Butler’s best hitter. … We knew this was going to be a low-scoring game. Paige’s awareness and ability to get the out got us out of a potentially tough situation.” The two pitchers buckled down once again and the innings rolled with the game remaining scoreless. Then, in the bottom of the sixth inning, Woodford found a way to score a run. It began with one out and Kasey Abel at the plate. The freshman laid down a bunt and took off for first. As she was running, she was hit by the throw to first, but the play was ruled a hit and she was safe. She went on to steal second and then a wild pitch advanced her to third. With two outs, up to the plate came junior Peyton Rose. Originally, the plan, according to Anderson, was to try a squeeze play. But, after that didn’t work, he just wanted to create some “havoc” and see if his team could score. Well, havoc is exactly what he got. Rose tried to slap the ball into play, but the ball popped up right in front of her and it looked like Butler would get the out. “When I first hit, I was like ‘Oh, shoot,’” said Rose. “I still sprinted to first either way, but I was kind of nervous because I thought they would catch it.” As three Butler players converged on the ball, it looked like the inning would end. But that’s not what happened. Instead, the Butler players didn’t communicate with each other and the ball dropped between them and Abel sprinted for home for the score. “There were two outs, so I was running anyway,” said Abel. “I was kind of … thinking they were going to catch it. But once it was down (on the ground), I sprinted (to the plate).” The Woodford bench erupted in cheers and they congratulated Abel. Woodford led 1-0. Afterwards, Anderson described his thoughts about the play. “We had the short game on,” he began. “Once Kasey got to third, I actually tried to squeeze her. … We had to create a run and we were trying to create havoc. (But), the squeeze pitch was missed. “So, the next pitch I had her (Rose) try to put (the ball) just a little bit further into play because they had their corners squeezed in. And she got just enough of it to put it in just the right spot – kind of in no-man’s land – and, sometimes, luck helps determine the game, and that was the place where luck helped determine the game.” As Butler came to bat in the top of the seventh, and with her team ahead 1-0, Todd picked her pitching up a notch and struck out the Bearettes in order to give the Lady Jackets the victory. “My team backed me up, and so I just wanted to finish it off for (them) that way (with strikeouts). So, there wasn’t any more worries about it,” said Todd. Next up, the Lady Jackets will be at the Big M Chevrolet Classic at Elizabethtown on Friday and Saturday, March 24 and 25. Their first game is on March 24 against Christian County at 8:30 p.m. Then on Saturday they face Anderson County at 3 p.m. If they win, the Lady Jackets will play one more game against an opponent to be determined.
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