Sweeping changes

Junior first baseman Ethan Miracle was part of a completely new starting lineup Wednesday night when Scott County took the field for the first time in two years. McCracken County's Mustangs dealt the Cards a 15-0 defeat.

Neither the roster nor the feeder system looks the same as when Scott County last walked off the baseball field in May 2019, but the Cards haven’t backed one iota off their traditionally aggressive schedule.

No question that will benefit the program in the long run, but it made for some painful lessons in Wednesday night’s season-opener at McCracken County in Paducah.

The Mustangs, a perennial KHSAA state tournament challenger and ranked top-three in at least one notable preseason poll, polished off the Cardinals by virtue of the mercy rule in four innings, 15-0.

McCracken County racked up four runs in the opening frame and eight in the second frame to put it out of reach.

Andrew Willhite’s scoreless and hitless third inning of relief was a high note for SC, but the Mustangs mashed out another three against Karson Flowers in the fourth to invoke the early escape clause.

Luke Colvin’s leadoff single in the fourth was Scott County’s only hit of the evening. McCracken County freshman Ross Aldridge promptly mowed down the next three Cardinals on strikes to protect the shutout.

Scott County’s only other baserunners were Campton Martin, who reached on a dropped third strike and stole second base in the top of the first, and Zane Patton, hit by a pitch in the third.

Martin and Patton are the only players with significant varsity experience from 2019, when SC reached the 11th Region tournament for the fourth consecutive season.

McCracken County lost to Tates Creek in the 2019 state final and has reached at least the final four in the past four KHSAA tourneys, including a quarterfinal win over Scott County in 2017.

Ben Higdon and Rivers Moffatt both had two hits and combined for five runs to lead the Mustangs. Nate Lang, Brandon Dodd and Davis Beale each collected two RBI.

Eli James’ double was the Mustangs’ lone extra-base hit.

Josh Tucker, Grant Godwin and Aldridge combined on the one-hit shutout, striking out a total of eight Cardinals.

Five errors and six walks hampered SC. Seven of the 12 runs allowed by starter Joey Garrison were unearned.

The Cards had won their past three season-openers.

Scott County continues its western trip with games against Lyon County on Thursday, Marshall County on Friday and Calloway County on Saturday.

Upon returning to town, the Cards have a home-and-home series against Woodford County in Versailles on Monday and at Sutton Field on Tuesday.

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