The season-opening, four-game winning streak for Great Crossing softball hasn't been easy, given the parade of ranked teams and top-flight pitchers the Warhawks have faced.
What they're using for a recipe to cook up those victories, on the other hand, is as simple and time-honored as it gets.
Steady, economical pitching plus lights-out defense plus steady production from all points in the batting order equals a GC team whose No. 24 ranking looked almost laughable after its second home win over a top-10 foe, 7-2, at the expense of No. 10 Anderson County on Tuesday night.
“They took that personally,” GC coach Heath Sutton said. “We're not facing junk pitchers. East Jessamine (Monday) night, (Kayleigh White) is a Murray State commit. And then Trinity (Bridges) for Lafayette, and this pitcher (Anderson County's Shelby Lewis) here shut us down two years.”
Against Lafayette last week, Great Crossing avenged three losses from the 2022 season. And as Sutton noted, the win over previously unbeaten Anderson County (4-1) was payback for back-to-back losses past.
Whether the motive is revenge or respect, the Warhawks have worn it well so far.
“We all said that Lafayette felt like another region game, just how competitive it was and everything,” senior shortstop Camryn Lookadoo said. “But it definitely feels good to come back and get our wins.”
Anderson County was already the second triumph of a busy and challenging week.
GC won 6-1 at East Jessamine. Destiney Reed was both a hitting (home run) and pitching (four-hitter, five strikeouts) star. An error committed against the Jaguars is the only one charged to the Warhawks all season.
“That's pretty locked down,” Lookadoo said. “(Pitching and defense) both feed off each other. Brenna and Destiney both have been really good this season.”
The right side of Great Crossing's infield, Brooke Miller at second and Emma Sutton at first, made a flurry of key stops and helped Parker contain Anderson County to four hits.
Lacey Osborne (single), Lewis (RBI double) and Liliana Mefford (RBI single) chalked up three of those to help the Bearcats break the shutout in the top of the sixth.
GC answered with the third hit of the game from both Lookadoo and Kendall Meade, the latter producing an insurance run, and Parker struck out the side in the seventh to finish the evening with eight Ks.
“Brenna threw a good game tonight. When Destiney's on the mound, she takes care of business,” Sutton said. “I'm flexible where I need to be. If one doesn't have her stuff, the other one's ready to come in. So far they've been able to handle the games themselves, all seven innings of it.”
Meade and Lookadoo each went 3-for-4, with the catcher Meade driving in three runs and Lookadoo scoring three.
Ryann Livingston, batting seventh in the GC lineup, went 3-for-3. Livingston and Delani Sullivan each tripled.
One notable change from last year's struggles against fellow ranked rivals has been the Warhawks ability to get hits from deep in the order and turn over scoring opportunities to UK signees Sullivan and Lookadoo.
“I think we definitely have production all the way through the lineup,” Lookadoo said. “We've gotten more consistent the more games we've played. We're hitting more.”
Sullivan was 4-for-5 with a triple, a stolen base and three runs scored from the leadoff slot at East Jessamine (4-3).
In addition to Reed's home run, Meade was 2-for-3 with two RBI. Ashtyn Holbrook had an RBI single along with Meade to break open a 5-1 lead in the top of the fifth.
Aubrey Green added a double to the Warhawks' nine-hit attack.
“It's a team effort for sure,” Sutton said. “Everybody's contributing this year. Even sometimes the top doesn't produce and the middle produces. It seems like every game the sticks and getting better and better.”
Sullivan tripled and scored on an error against White, a Boyle County transfer, to start the game. Reed ripped her home run to center with two out in the second. She was nicked for the only run when East Jessamine sandwiched two singles around a walk after trailing 3-0 in the bottom of the third.
That frame ended in a strikeout. Meade picked off a runner to end the fourth.
“When you've got that defense behind you in that circle, there's no pressure,” Sutton said. “I couldn't be happier. I cannot complain about the start. They're having fun and just playing ball.”
Now ranked No. 18, GC hosted Collins on Thursday before traveling to Huntsville, Alabama, and the Bob Jones tournament this weekend. The next in-state game will be the 41st District opener at Frankfort on April 10.