Tournaments are usually Scott County softball's friend, as evidenced by a long run of district, region and state championships this decade.
That hasn't been the case this spring, due to circumstances both within and beyond the Lady Cards' control.
Two of those weekend festivals have been washed out completely by rain, and two others have ended with one win overshadowed by three losses.
The latest trip started in encouraging and dramatic fashion with a 5-4 victory Friday night over Lafayette to open the Best of the West showcase in Bowling Green. Sam Sims touched off the celebration for SC with her walk-off hit in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Friday's nightcap was a 6-2 loss to Oldham County, however. Saturday also started better than it ended, with a 3-2 defeat at the hands of fourth-ranked Holy Cross Louisville, followed by a 15-3 thumping from South Warren.
Sims' shot to left center field capped a hard-fought win against one of SC's primary challengers in the 11th Region.
Lafayette tied the game with three runs in the top of the fourth before pulling ahead, 4-3, in the eighth, thanks in part to extra-inning rules that started each team with a runner at second base.
Scott County (16-9) took advantage of that scenario in its half of each extra inning, as well. Sims was the automatic runner in the eighth, and she scored the equalizer when Carly Oliver won an eight-pitch battle by belting a double.
The Lady Cards left Nani Valencia at third base when Carlee Jeter struck out Ashley Adkins to end that frame. SC reclaimed the driver’s seat after a double play from Valencia at first base to catcher Alyssa Woolums held the Lady Generals scoreless in the ninth.
Michalee Clay took her place at second base for SC, and infield singles by Katelyn Byrd and Savannah Adams set the table for Sims.
Sims finished 3-for-5 with two runs scored and two RBIs for the Lady Cards. Oliver was Scott County's other repeat hitter.
Katlyn Mullins went the distance, allowing only three hits and two earned runs while striking out a career-high 11 to lead SC. Jeter fanned nine over the route for Lafayette, which received two hits and two RBIs from Anna Norby.
SC scored single runs on an error in the first, Sims' single in the second and a sacrifice fly by Valencia in the third before the game escalated into one of the Lady Cards' wildest of the year.
The best performance of the three losses came against Holy Cross in a rematch of a 1-0, eight-inning road loss for SC earlier in the spring.
Carson Goatley fired a no-hitter that evening, and Bella Velez kept Scott County off-balance in the encore until Valencia's base hit cut a three-run gap to one in the bottom of the fifth.
That was enough to summon Goatley, who retired all six Lady Cards she faced with four strikeouts to slam the door.
Byrd, Woolums, Oliver and Savannah Merriman also had hits for SC. Maddie Gailor was 3-for-4 to lead Holy Cross. Mullins struck out seven more and permitted only two earned runs in another terrific start.
With SC still on a high from its win over Lafayette 15 minutes earlier, Oldham County took command of Friday’s nightcap by scoring three runs in the second inning, one in the third and a pair in the fourth.
Madison Scott's RBI double broke up Kalee Rose's shutout bid for the Lady Colonels in the top of the seventh. Oliver was 2-for-3 to lead SC, which received a complete-game effort from Valencia in the circle.
South Warren sandwiched its six-inning, mercy-rule rout with five runs in both the first and sixth innings to close out Saturday.
Valencia, Scott and Kaylie Wise notched the RBIs for the Lady Cards. Hits from seven different players weren't enough to offset six repeat offenders for South Warren, led by three hits each from Paityn Pruitt and Jessica Bush.
SC hosts Frederick Douglass in a battle Tuesday for the top seed in the upcoming 42nd District tournament. A win by the Lady Cards would clinch outright. Otherwise, the tie would be broken by fewest runs allowed in the six district games.
Kal Oakes can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.