May 25, 2012 — Some losses hurt worse than others.
After defeating Menifee County Tuesday night, the Lady Vikings gave up a 2-1 advantage in the seventh to fall 3-2 at the hands of Fleming County in Wednesday’s 61st District Championship.
Lady Viking pitcher Morgan Mitchell threw a solid game on the hill for the Vikings as she began the final defensive stand with a resounding strikeout.
Fleming County’s Mandy Hord was then walked to first before Kira Brown picked up a single on a hard hit groundball to third base.
Mandy Boyd followed up with a roaring single to the right center field fence to end Rowan’s hopes of a repeat.
“This one hurts tonight, especially when you cough up a lead like we did at the end of the game. You have to step up and make plays, and we just didn’t close out the game,” said Rowan County Head Coach Larry Slone following his team’s loss.
A youth-driven squad with only two seniors, the Lady Vikings showed both focus and poise in the onset of the game.
Freshman pitcher Morgan Mitchell and her young comrades in the field kept the Lady Panther offense in check through five innings.
Several nice plays on the ball, including a nice scoop on a hard ground ball by shortstop Autumn Meade, helped to provide some breathing room for the Lady Vike offense.
Rowan’s girls found enough offense in its second at bat to score its only two runs of the night.
A line drive single by McKenzie Summers was the igniter, as Mitchell followed up with a hit only to see Summers thrown out at second, before freshman catcher Lindsey Wilson connected on another single.
Lady Panther Rachel Boyd then tossed a wild pitch to allow Mitchell to score Rowan County’s first run on a steal of home from third.
Sophomore Sabrina Stewart, who went 2 for 3 on the night with an RBI, delivered the goods for the big green, sending a shot mid right field for a single RBI to bring in Wilson.
Becca Duff would attempt to continue the good fortune in the top of the fourth, notching a single and stealing two bases, only to be left stranded due to three-straight groundouts.
Fleming snuck its first run onto the scoreboard in the fifth after an error-filled segment of fielding following a hit.
“We just made too many errors,” Slone said. “It seemed like we were more focused on wanting to win, than doing what we needed in order to do it.”
The Rowan County defense got itself out of potential trouble in the bottom frame of the sixth when Mitchell rocketed a big strikeout to leave a Lady Panther in scoring position on third.
An opportunity in the final frame to secure a win with additional runs fell to the wayside as two Rowan batters were left on second and third.
Senior Jade Turner began the scoring threat after gutting out a single by way of a tipped ball falling in front of home plate, advancing to second following a sac bunt by Alli Banks.
Turner then stole third and Becca Duff took first on walk. Unfortunately a fly out ended hopes of the impending lead extension.
The missed chance to seal the victory left the door open for Fleming to take advantage with the game-winning RBI for Boyd, leaving Rowan County empty-handed headed into next week’s regional tournament.
“I don’t want to see us drop our heads and feel sorry for ourselves, we still have some softball left to play,” Slone said. “We’ve came a long way this year and we just didn’t finish tonight, it’s as simple as that. There is still softball left to play, and we need to work hard this next week so we are prepared come Monday.”
Monday marks the opening round of the 2012 16th Region softball tournament, in which Rowan County will now face a winner of another district.
The Lady Vikings will essentially be playing a home game with the finals set to take place at RCSHS.
The Morehead News will have more on the 16th Region softball tournament in next Friday’s edition of sports.
Grant Stevens can be reached at email@example.com or by telephone at 784-4116.