During last year’s 63rd District championship game, Russell and Greenup County went eight innings. On Wednesday night the two teams decided more was necessary.
Mallory Powell hit a walk-off double in the 13th inning to defeat Greenup County 3-2 to decide the district at Russell High School. The win gave the Lady Devils their sixth straight 63rd District title.
Russell coach Ron Osborn said while it was great to win another title, it was even better being able to watch the game unfold.
“I’ve never seen this before in a district championship game,” Osborn said. “I’ve never seen a game played with that much intensity. Greenup came with their ‘A’ game and had us on the ropes ... (Greenup County coach) Eric Keeton and his crew do a good job and have a real good ball club.”
What’s more impressive is that both Powell and Greenup County pitcher Brooke Johnson lasted all 13 innings and each pitched well enough to win.
Powell struck out eight and allowed no runs after the third inning, while Johnson fanned 10 batters while allowing only seven hits.
“Both of them were pitching just as well in the last innings as they were in the first inning,” Keeton said. “This was a great ball game, we just came out on the wrong end of it.”
The Lady Musketeers took an early advantage in the second inning after Andrea Dean reached third and later scored after a low throw on a pickoff attempt by Russell catcher Arden Gross.
Greenup County then added another run in the third inning after senior Casey Meenach singled through the infield to score Lexy Traylor to give her team a 2-0 lead.
Meenach, who is one of just three seniors on the team, went 3-for-6 with the only RBI of the game for the Lady Musketeers.
“We’ve got great senior leadership,” Keeton said. “She struggled at the start of the season, but as the season has gone on, she’s started to hit. She realizes it’s her time and she needs to step up and be a leader and lead by example.”
Heading into the sixth inning trailing by two, Russell was looking to find a spark. With two outs in the inning and an 0-2 count on Gross, the inning looked to be over.
Gross then fought and fouled her way to a walk, which was followed by a Hannah Carter single to put runners on second and third. Carter finished 3-for-6 and scored once.
Hope Parsley then followed behind Carter with a two-run, two-out single down the right-field line that tied the game at 2-2.
“I called time, walked up and told her I wanted a ball down the right-field line,” Osborn said. “They threw her an outside pitch and she went with it.”
After the two runs in the sixth, neither team was able to do any damage. Both struggled to put runners in scoring position as the game went into extras.
Both teams had opportunities to win it in the additional frames.
In the 10th inning, Greneup County had runners on first and second with one out, but ended the inning with a groundout and a strikeout before a runner could score.
In the bottom of the frame, Russell had runners on second and third but was denied a run after Emma Ison ran into Greenup County shortstop Madi Greene and was called out on runner interference.
Powell, though, stayed strong, not allowing another Greneup County run since the Lady Musketeers scored in the third inning. The junior said after pitching as much as she does in the week, she’s used to it.
“I go to pitching lessons twice a week and it really builds my endurance so I can push off the mound and strengthen myself,” Powell said.
Going into the bottom of the 13th, Osborn said Powell came up to him and said she was getting tired. She was also coming up to bat with runners at second and third with one out.
She then laced the ball to the right-field gap to end it one inning shy of two complete games.
“I was so happy, I was ready to hit it,” Powell said. “I was little bit tired from pitching because it was almost two games worth. So I just put all my energy into that at-bat.”
Powell went 3-for-6 and reached base four times while going the entire game in the circle.
Osborn said it was fitting that the game ended with Powell hitting the game-winner.
“She’s worked really hard and she’s just a junior,” Osborn said. “She’ll be back next year and she’ll be one of the top contenders in the 16th Region. Everyone will have to go against her. She’s going to be awesome.”
Russell (15-14) and Greenup County (18-17) will both compete in the 16th Region Tournament starting Monday at East Carter.
GREENUP CO. 011 000 000 000 0 — 2 11 2
RUSSELL 000 002 000 000 1 — 3 7 1
Johnson and Howard. Powell and Gross. W — Powell. L — Johnson. 2B — Powell (R).