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SHELBYVILLE – With a month to go in the regular season, there is little doubt about which softball team is at the top of the Eighth Region.
At least Anderson County is at the top of what is generally considered the region’s toughest district.
The Lady Cats, already ranked 14th in the state and the defending regional champion, established that it is planning on making a return trip to Owensboro with a 6-0 win on a chilly night at Shelby County last Wednesday.
It was Anderson’s second win over Shelby, the pre-season regional favorite, in two weeks. The Lady Bearcats had defeated Shelby 6-1 on April 2 at home. While one swing of the bat – Courtney Turpin’s grand slam – changed that game, this one was simply a dominating performance by the Lady Cats.
Anderson was up 2-0 before Shelby recorded an out, and was up 4-0 and had batted around by the time the Lady Cat first ended.
That was all Turpin needed as she cruised to the victory. Turpin scattered five hits and walked two but no Shelby runner advanced past second base. Turpin struck out eight to go 8-4 on the year. Her earned run average is now below 1.00.
“It is a lot easier to pitch when you have a big lead like that,” Turpin said.
“She was outstanding,” said Anderson coach Brian Glass. “She had them off-balance all night long. Her change was awesome.”
Turpin, whose fastball has been clocked at 64 miles per hour, had Lady Rocket hitters well out in front and hitching their swings with an off-speed pitch that seemed to float to the plate, then bottom out under the Shelby bats.
Turpin was also hot at the plate, ripping three hits, including a pair of doubles. Her first extra-base smack scored leadoff hitter Christina Harvey, who had reached on an error. Turpin then came around to score when Lauren Brown singled, the first of her three hits.
Brown, however, gave Anderson a major scare in the second when she twisted an ankle as she was retired on the front end of a double play. After being treated by Shelby trainer Sheri LeCompte, then putting on an ankle brace, Brown returned to the game with no apparent side effects.
“I must have slid wrong into second base,” said Brown.
It was about the only thing that Anderson did wrong all night. The Lady Cats reached Shelby pitchers Haleigh LeCompte and Hannah Stucker for 10 hits and made Shelby pay for its mistakes. “This team can really hit the ball,” Glass said. “They might be a better hitting team than last year.”
Anderson was also flawless in the field, with right fielder Karrah Bottoms making a spectacular grab in right field and shortstop Kritty Morrow and second baseman Brooke Collins teaming up for a force to end the game.
The Lady Rockets had five errors, including a pair of dropped fly balls, and several mental miscues that led to Anderson runs.
LeCompte took the loss but got little help in the field. Of Anderson’s six runs, all charged to LeCompte, half were unearned.
After Brown had singled Turpin home to make it 2-0, Chelsea Bright singled. Pinch-runner K.K. Fitzpatrick and Brown both scored when Kritty Morrow reached on another Shelby error.
Anderson put things completely out of reach in the fifth when Brown came home on Morrow’s single, then Bright scored when Ashley Cotton reached on Shelby’s final miscue.
While the contest did not count in the district standings, it put a firm stamp on the Lady Bearcats’ position at the top of the 30th District and Eighth Region.
Now 9-4 on the season, Anderson is ranked 14th in the state, the only regional team in the Top 25. Shelby is receiving votes.
Lady Cats rout Eminence
Turpin’s second grand slam of the season highlighted a 9-run first inning as Anderson County routed host Eminence, 14-0, on Thursday night. Turpin went 3-for-3 at the plate with her grand slam capping the first inning scoring for the Lady Cats.
Senior Kritty Morrow also belted a long ball, the first of her varsity career. Morrow’s 3-run shot came in the top of the third.
By that time, Glass was freely substituting.
Turpin pitched for only three innings, being relieved by Lauren Brown. The pair combined to throw a no-hitter and allow just one base runner on a walk. They combined for 12 strikeouts in five innings.
Christina Harvey joined Turpin with three hits while, Brown, Tiffany Davenport and Ashley Cotton all smacked two.
While Anderson almost has a stranglehold on the regular-season district race, the Lady Bearcats must still beat Spencer County to wrap things up. That game, which was rained out last Monday, has been rescheduled for April 28 at 6 p.m. at Spencer County High School.
E-mail John Herndon at firstname.lastname@example.org.