Any numerologists in the crowd had to like Camryn Lookadoo's chances of achieving a program-defining moment for Great Crossing against undefeated reigning KHSAA softball champion, current Kentucky No. 1 and MaxPreps' national No. 4 Ballard on Thursday, May 4.
Lookadoo, who wears No. 22, lurked in the batter's box awaiting a two-ball, two-strike pitch with two out in the bottom of the second inning of a 2-2 game.
“They said it was all twos on the board,” Lookadoo said. “I'm like, 'Those are my numbers.' It was kind of high, and usually I don't go after the high pitches, but I went after that one and was able to swing through it.”
She launched a no-doubter that hurdled the left field fence by a good 40 to 50 feet and might as well have landed in Stamping Ground for the message it sent.
No. 8 Great Crossing never trailed again and ended Ballard's state-record 61-game, 23-month unbeaten streak with a 6-4 signature victory.
“The stars aligned tonight,” GC coach Heath Sutton said. “They're on top of the world tonight. They definitely feel like Goliath.”
Or perhaps David. Ballard beat its previous opponents this spring by an average score of 10-1. GC had been 0-3 against the Louisville monolith. And even when this was a one-school town, the Bruins were the only Kentucky team to beat Scott County in 2018, when Lookadoo was a seventh-grader on a state championship team.
“We were very hyped the whole week and confident, and we came and showed out,” Lookadoo said.
Kendall Meade must have thought Lookadoo's home run ball was lonely. She propelled a rocket to the same spot in the bottom of the fifth inning. Ballard (22-1) had just turned a double play after closing the gap to 4-3 in its half of that frame.
Great Crossing (22-3) added more two-out insurance when Ashtyn Holbrook singled to set up an RBI double by Emma Sutton.
“Each game we're getting more confident in our hitting, and then when we have time for practices, we know what to do. We get out here and it's just hard work,” Lookadoo said. “(Wednesday) we did mainly hitting practice. We worked on our weaknesses, and I think that showed.”
Six runs and eight hits against Rylee Carter — Ballard ace and Louisville signee Brooke Gray sat out due to illness — were more than enough for GC sophomore ace Brenna Parker.
After a brief scare in the form of Mikayla Milby's inside-the-park home run to start the seventh inning, Parker put away three consecutive Bruins, punctuated by a strikeout of Kierstyn Smith.
“I feel like really I just trust my defense. I didn't need to worry about pitching all strikeouts. I let them do the work, and it was a team effort,” Parker said. “I wasn't too nervous coming into it. I can trust my defense. And our offense, they took all the stress off me. They can hit the crap out of the ball.”
Holbrook (two RBI) and Delani Sullivan each went 2-for-3 to supplement the bombs by Lookadoo and Meade.
Parker's closing strikeout was her second of the evening. She scattered eight hits and walked four but located her pitches in places where the mighty Ballard bats couldn't tee off.
“They did what I asked for,” Sutton said. “I told them we had to be aggressively disciplined at the plate. We had to play lights-out defense, and that starts with communication before the pitch starts. And Brenna had to keep the ball inside the fence. They checked all the boxes.”
Ballard conducted business as usual by scoring two runs in the top of the first on a double by Imari Golden and fielder's choice off the bat of Lillian Koch.
Ryann Livingston's walk, a Sullivan single and a passed ball provided the spot for Holbrook's line drive through the circle to pull the Warhawks even.
In addition to its knack for avenging losses from the past, GC has a tendency to fall behind opponents big and small before finding its footing.
“I hate that, but I don't get worried when we get two or three behind,” Sutton said. “The energy in this place tonight, the energy out of that dugout was just amazing.”
Aubrey Green made a terrific catch in foul territory for the final out that stranded two Ballard runners in the second inning. Parker sprinted down the right field line to be the first Warhawk on scene to congratulate and thank her teammate.
Ellie Hoover was hit on the helmet by a pitch prior to the deuces-wild rip by Lookadoo.
“Their No. 1 pitcher is sick. We'll take it, but if we keep playing the way we're playing, we'll see them again and we'll see their No. 1 (at state),” Sutton said.
Not surprisingly, Great Crossing had a tough time putting a bow on that emotional win and setting it aside to play Pendleton County on Friday night.
A walk-off home run from Holbrook in the bottom of the seventh was necessary for the Warhawks to escape with a 3-2 win.
“It was right there, and I just swung at it. I've gotten a lot better eye on the ball,” Holbrook said. “It was hard. I think we were all tired, and our energy was a little low, but to still pull out a win like this was great.”
Sullivan notched the only other two hits and Meade both prior RBI for Great Crossing.
Seventh-grader Kinly Cooper's hit plated two unearned runs against Destiney Reed in the top of the sixth. Holbrook applied a tag after a throw from Riley McCallister and relay through catcher Meade for an out at third base to stop the rally.
“We've got to show up with the energy and mindset like it's Ballard every game,” Sutton said. “Their pitcher (Kayley Bruener) has shut a lot of good teams down to one or two runs and minimal hits.