Bearcats, Lady Cats achieve diamond royalty

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By The Staff

Just call them the kings and queens of the diamond.

The Anderson County baseball and fast-pitch softball teams put exclamation points on their seasons Thursday night when both captured their respective Eighth Region championships. It is the first time in Anderson County history boys' and girls' teams from the same or corresponding sports have won regional titles in the same season.

The Lady Bearcats fast-pitch softball team rode a big first inning to a 4-0 win over archrival Shelby County for its first state tournament trip since 2002.

The Bearcat baseball team also got a big early start on its way to an 11-3 win over Henry County to earn its first state tournament trip since 2003.

The teams rode back into Lawrenceburg together with a police escort and a line of nearly 100 cars.

Softball Anderson County 4, Shelby County 0

The Lady Bearcats pounded Shelby for all of their runs in the first frame, putting a string of five consecutive hits together. Tiffany Davenport had the big stick with a double that scored 2 runs and gave Anderson plenty of breathing room in the game played at Oldham County High School.

"We talked about taking it out on them in the first inning," said Davenport.

The first inning fireworks also answered questions concerning how much gas the Lady Bearcats would have in the tank after an emotion-charged 14-inning win over 2-time defending regional champion Oldham County the night before.

"We were ready for this one," said senior third baseman Miranda Drury, a team captain. "Everybody was so pumped."

Courtney Turpin gave up just 4 hits and the Anderson defense did not allow a runner past second base. Less than 20 hours after pitching the marathon against Oldham, Turpin struck out 4 and walked none. She did hit a batter.

Turpin, Davenport, Emily Ethington, and Lauren Brown were selected to the all-regional tournament team.

In winning the program's second state tournament trip, the Lady Bearcats defeated Shelby for the fourth time in six tries this year. Anderson improved to 28-13 on the season and moves on to the state tournament at Owensboro's Jack Fischer Park. The Lady Cats will play 10th Region champion George Rogers Clark in the first round Friday, June 6 at 9 a.m. Central Time.

Baseball Anderson County 11, Henry County 3

In Anderson's first trip back to the Eighth Regional championship game since 2004, the Bearcats exploded for 12 hits on their way to an 11-3 rout of host Henry County Thursday night. It was Anderson first regional crown since 2003.

The title is Anderson's third regional crown.

"I can't really say much. I'm so proud of everyone's effort. That includes the players, the coaching staff, school and fans," said Anderson coach L.W. Barnes. "This is overwhelming!"

Anderson starter Ryan Pike, a senior, pitched a complete game against the Wildcats. Pike struck out five, gave up seven hits, walked one and hit three. But solid defense backed the hurler the entire night.

At the plate, Pike went 4-for-5 with 2 singles, a double and a triple. Senior Shane Mink, who had been in a 2-for-34 slump, rose from the ashes and went 3-for-4 with a double.

"This is amazing. We knew we had to come out and take it. They weren't going to hand it to us," said Jeremy Turpin who scored 2 runs on the night.

"I can't even put this into words," said Jacob Brown who was selected for the All Eighth Region team along with Pike, Mink and Aaron Burkhead.

Anderson (21-15) will now play in the best-of-3 semi-state series against the state's top-ranked team, Pleasure Ridge Park (33-4) on the Panthers' home field beginning Wednesday, June 4. Game times are still to be determined.

For a complete look at the Eighth Region baseball and fast-pitch softball tournaments see the June 4 edition of The Anderson News.

Ticket information for both state tournaments will be posted at www.theandersonnews.com when it becomes available.