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The Anderson County Middle School softball team captured the Kentucky state championship Saturday night with a 3-2 win over previously undefeated Scott County in the final game at Cardinal Run Park in Lexington.
Scott had defeated Anderson, 10-2, in a pool play game earlier in the tournament. The first two games of the tournament were pool play, sending teams to a single elimination tournament format later in the tournament.
The Lady Mustangs did it without regular pitcher Gracie Inabnitt, who was injured. Another regular, Jessie Peavler, was also out. Both are eighth-graders.
Eighth-grader Cheyenne Searcy and sixth-grader Jenni Beasley were very strong in the pitching circle with Beasley limiting Scott and Garrard County, dubbed as “the two best teams in the state” by Anderson coach Nick Cann, to a total of three runs in 11 innings of work.
“We came into the day without two of our best players,” Cann said. “I have told the kids all year that in my three years as a softball coach, this was the deepest roster I had ever had. They proved that to be true on Saturday.
Anderson handed Scott County its first loss of the season to with the title. “I am not sure anybody outside our dugout gave us much of a chance, but we had our best defensive game of the year at just the right time. Scott County has an outstanding team with a great lineup and a dominant pitcher who had already shut us out once on the year.”
Anderson manufactured three runs in the top of the second inning, then held Scott off the rest of the way.
“Our kids deserve all the credit,” Cann said. “They battled through adversity all day and were able to play their best when it counted the most.”
In the semifinals, Anderson upset Garrard County, 3-1. Garrard, a conference foe that had just one loss on the season. “We had played them four times already and we knew how dangerous of a team they were,” Cann said.
The Lady Mustangs employed an infield shift with three fielders on the third base side of second base. Cann said the ploy bothered Garrard and Beasley was outstanding on the pitching rubber. Beasley limited Garrard to just three hits while four Anderson players smacked doubles.
In the quarter-final round, Anderson scored three times in the bottom of the sixth to oust Taylor County, 9-8. The teams appeared headed for a slugfest, tied 6-6 after three innings, but neither team scored again until the final inning, when Taylor scored twice only to see Anderson come back with three to win it in walk-off fashion. “We knew going into the game that it was going to be a battle,” Cann said. In pool play, Anderson routed Spencer County, 13-1, in a game called by the “mercy rule” after three innings, but then Scott County whipped the Lady Mustangs 9-2, making Anderson the No. 2 seed out of pool play. “We committed several errors early on that gave Scott a big lead and we just never put together much of a rally.”
Anderson finished its season with an 18-8 record, but Cann said the final slate is deceptive as the Lady Mustangs played a rugged schedule that included several games against high school freshman teams.
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