• Bill Caine, Contributing Writer

A fantastic season comes to a close

When you arrive at Jack C. Fisher Park in Owensboro for the KHSAA Fast Pitch Softball State tournament, you instantly can feel the electricity in the air. Consider this, four softball fields, 16 teams and many dreams. The Woodford County High School Lady Jackets were hoping they could extend their season an extra day. Instead they are heading into the offseason after a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to East Carter in the state tournament. The game ended after a furious rally in the seventh inning that fell a run short. A long home run by East Carter’s Montana Fouts was the difference in the elimination game. “We had a plan to attack her (Fouts) with the changeup,” said Woodford first year head coach Les Anderson. “She just went out and got it and got all of it. Give her credit.” Senior Bethany Todd gave a gutsy performance battling a hip injury, but still managed to strike out 13 batters in the six innings she pitched. “I’m proud of how she competed tonight,” said an emotional Anderson. “I’m proud of all of my girls; I know how hard they have worked for this.”

Freshman Kasey Abel made a fantastic play at home plate, making the tag on an East Carter runner who leaped over her head. Abel was kicked in the helmet on the play, but still managed to make a throw to second for a double play attempt. “That was a tough play and a big collision,” said Anderson “A great play by Peyton Rose also to flip the ball to Kasey to get that out.” Given how Woodford performed as an offensive team throughout the year, they were visibly frustrated by the inability to string some hits together and generate the bigger inning, which wasn’t there. East Carter made tough plays look routine to stifle the Woodford offensive push. “We had some very hard hit balls” said Anderson. “Sometimes you don’t get one of those hard hit balls to drop in a gap and start a rally, that was tonight.”

East Carter’s infield was always in position to make a play, which made Woodford’s task nearly impossible at times. The Lady Jackets managed seven hits over seven innings of play, including the two runs driven in by senior Ariel Dailey. The girls have fought through injuries and achieved greatness on a personal and team level. So many great memories of a season that brought them to the state tournament where they fought until the very last pitch. “I knew we had something special back in April following a loss to Scott County,” said Anderson. “The girls wanted to be better, and they started to believe they could win games like this.” Anderson, who is in his first year as head coach of the Lady Jackets, is a steady and patient coach. He is approachable on and off the field. His years of experience give him the ability to read a situation and rely on his knowledge from past seasons. As the sun sets on a terrific season, Anderson will surely look back at this season and crack a smile.

"The ball doesn’t always land where you want it to, it’s a tough game and we took our best swing” said Anderson. “This is a great group of kids. They gave me everything they could give.” The bond between the players is a sense of family. “Just the fact that we get to make this trip together is amazing,” said Dailey. “The seniors have been through so much together.” “C.K., Kyla and I grew up playing together,” said Todd. “One of my favorite parts of the season was a tournament in E-town, we all stayed in the same room, and it was a lot of fun.” The softball community is large, and the families have known each other for years from travel ball to the high school squad. For the seniors, the days of high school softball are over, but the fate of Woodford softball appears to be in good hands. The team averaged four starting freshmen and will still have an upperclassmen core coming back. Freshmen slugger Delaney Enlow had her biggest moment against Scott County in the regional final when she hit a home run to center field, which turned out to be the only run of the game. Abel, Abby Moffett, Kelsey Coleman and Kayleigh Poe are all also finishing up their freshmen campaigns and will be looking to add to their already impressive list of accomplishments. The Lady Jackets have been playing their game, their way, for a long time. Playing in front of that sea of black and gold when they are at home, and even in front of a lot of black and gold when they travel, the team always has a lot of support because the Woodford fans are always there to cheer them on. Even Woodford County schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins had a rally cap on Thursday night while the Lady Jackets were trying to fight back in the game against Mercy. Versailles is a good softball town, and the numbers appear to be growing by the day. That bodes well for the future of Woodford County softball.

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