In this new era for Scott County softball — or reloading season, if you dare call it that — players, coaches and fans have been required to learn what it's like not to win almost every game.
They've also had to retrain their nerves to handle eventual wins such as Tuesday's 12-8 senior night victory over Frederick Douglass at Lois Holmes Field.
Scott County snapped a three-game skid by erasing a four-run deficit, breaking a later deadlock, then charging from behind one final time for breathing room's sake.
“I'm getting a lot of gray hair,” SC coach Jeff Portwood quipped.:”One good thing about it is they've got fight in them. They don't quit. When most teams would give up, they keep battling.”
The victory bore a strong resemblance to last week's win over Woodford County, when the Lady Cards matched a four-run third inning by the Yellow Jackets to get back on track.
SC (17-9 overall, 6-0 district) went one better in its 42nd District regular season finale, fighting off Frederick Douglass' four-spot in that third frame with a high five, erasing a 4-1 deficit.
It's the second time they've needed a comeback to beat the Broncos (21-11, 4-2) this spring. The encore clinched a No. 1 seed in next week's district tournament and extended Scott County's 10-year undefeated run in the district to 58 games,
“I think we didn't come into it as hard as we should have,” senior second base and lead-off hitter Sam Sims said.
Sims, one of three seniors honored before the game along with shortstop Carly Oliver and catcher/first base Alyssa Woolums, went 4-for-5 with three RBIs, giving her nine hits in the two-game series against upstart Douglass.
Oliver and freshman Bianca Ward each added two hits and drove in a pair. Ward's sinking line drive to right field ushered home Madison Scott and Ashley Adkins and cut the Lady Cards’ gap to 5-4 with two out in the bottom of the third.
Sims laced a ground ball between shortstop and third that found the grass and tied the game. Her stolen base then invited a throwing error, allowing Camryn Lookadoo to scoot home with the go-ahead run.
“The two-out rally, that was great,” Sims said. “Last weekend was not the best weekend for me. I like hitting off that pitcher, I don't know. Something about it.”
Scott County needed to stop the bleeding after weekend losses to Oldham County, Holy Cross Louisville and South Warren in the Best of the West tournament, and the Lady Cards fought valiantly to make it happen.
Douglass struck back with a game-tying single by Macy Helton in the fourth and reclaimed the lead on a dropped pop-up with two out in the fifth.
Two outs again were the magic formula in Scott County's half of that frame. Kaylie Wise, who reached base earlier on an error, slid under the tag with the tying run after a single by — who else? — Sims.
“What a lead-off hitter she is,” Portwood said of Sims. “She's got the patience. She's got speed. She's done really well.”
Oliver followed with a single ahead of consecutive doubles by Nani Valencia and Savannah Merriman. All three hits knocked home a run and made it a 10-7 lead.
Alexis Menifee's sixth-inning single brought Douglass back within a pair, but Sims' single and Oliver's groundout each produced an insurance run,
Valencia earned the win with 4 2/3 innings in relief of Katlyn Mullins, allowing only earned run while striking out four. Last week against Woodford, it was Mullins picking up Valencia as the Lady Cards dug out of their early doldrums.
“That's what I just told them. They're mixing it up and showing that teamwork between the two of them,” Portwood said. “We need that combination going into the post-season.”
Menifee went the distance in the circle for Douglass. Kasia Parks had three hits and made one of the Lady Broncos' multiple run-stealing grabs in the outfield.
SC takes on undefeated Male and Christian County, both ranked top-five in the state, in a Saturday triangle.
“We don't back down for anything,” Portwood said. “I told them we wouldn't (soften the schedule), and we didn't. I don't know if that's bad or not.”
The Lady Cards face Henry Clay in the district semifinals at Bryan Station. Game time is 6 p.m. next Monday, May 20.
Kal Oakes can be reached via email at email@example.com.