Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

June 21, 2013

Hensley, Vanover fuel Kittens’ charge, make their KHSAA mark

ASHLAND — Ashland softball players Megan Hensley and McKenzie Vanover propelled the Kittens not only to a fifth consecutive State Tournament appearance this season, but several high rankings in the KHSAA state record book.

Hensley’s outstanding pitching and Vanover’s booming bat spearheaded the Kittens’ run to a fifth straight 16th Region title. Ashland went on to finish 2-2 in state competition.

“When the dust settles and you see what these two were able to do, it’s really unbelievable,” Kittens coach Dave Miller said.

Miller said the duo simply put the team on their backs after outfielder/leadoff hitter Sydney Whitt went down with a season-ending injury.

“Mac took care of the offense, and Megan took care of shutting other people down,” Miller said of the 16th Region Tournament Co-MVPs. “They did a phenomenal job.”    

Hensley, the All-Area Pitcher of the Year, tossed three consecutive no-hitters during her sophomore season to tie for second on the KHSAA all-time list, last updated just prior to the 2013 season. The record is four.

Also, the second team All-State selection’s 403 strikeouts on the season made her only the seventh different pitcher to top the 400 mark.

“Amazing,” Miller said. “I think we figured she averaged 12 to 13 strikeouts per game. That takes a lot of pressure off the defense, especially with a young team like we had this year. I had high expectations for Megan coming into the season, and she exceeded them. Our run production wasn’t as high as in the past, but our philosophy was that we only needed one more run than the other team.”

Hensley rang up a 2013 State Tournament-high 52 strikeouts in the Kittens’ four games while posting a 0.75 earned run average at Owensboro’s Jack C. Fisher Park.

Offensively, Vanover slammed 15 home runs as a junior. According to the record book, only three Kentucky high school fastpitch players launched more in season. Former Miss Softball award winner Amber Riddle of Rowan County is No. 1 with 19 (2008).

“It’s not an accident,” Miller said of Vanover’s success. “This kid has worked her entire career. I’m very happy for her.”

Vanover homered in four straight games, tying for second on the state list, and joined a large group of players to clear the outfield fence on two consecutive at bats. That record is three by six players.

Her eight RBIs in a game against Ironton is good for third all time, while Vanover’s 56 runs batted in for the season ranks 14th overall.

Some of Vanover’s best production came at crunch time during the postseason. She hit a three-run homer in the district final at Boyd County, then put on a power show at the region tournament including two blasts against Russell in the championship game.

“McKenzie came through time after time in high-pressure situations,” Miller said of the All-Area Co-Player of the Year. “I’m disappointed that the state recognition has not come for her yet. She’s very unsung I think.”

As a team, Ashland swatted 35 home runs, good for third in the state record book behind Christian County’s 2011 and ‘10 teams that hit 49 and 36, respectively. Whitt contributed five homers, Hensley and Sydney Cullop four apiece, Katie Caron and Hayley Kilburn three each, and Megan Griffith one for the Kittens.

Ashland’s five longballs in a regular season game against West Carter tied for the second spot in the record book. The Kittens had six doubles vs. Greenup County, which ties for fourth.

“Overall, what do you say about how everybody stepped up?” asked Miller, reflecting on how the Kittens overcame several key graduation losses. “It was an absolute pleasure to coach this team this year.”   

ROCKY STANLEY can be reached at rstanley@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2671.


Text Only
Local Sports
  • ZACK KLEMME: Punchless Reds wasting solid pitching

    The last nine days have been an exercise in understanding just how slim the margin for error is for baseball teams — even good ones — that can’t score.

    July 27, 2014

  • 0726fbPrac0079.jpg Practice rolls on as kickoff approaches in less than 5 weeks

    As high school football teams strap on helmets and prepare for Friday nights next month, the theme of the first couple of weeks of practice for most is simple.
    You gotta work. Hard.
    And if you don’t, it’ll be exposed come Aug. 22.
    “Everybody looks good in helmets,” Ashland coach Tony Love said with a grin. “We’re all undefeated. There’s a lot of work to get done.
    “Our coaches and kids, we all know it, and that’s why they’re here and we’re here, and we’re gonna push hard every day.”

    July 25, 2014 4 Photos

  • kenzie-breaststroke.jpg Pennington makes push for Nationals

    Swimmer Kenzie Pennington had one last chance to make the cut for this year’s YMCA Long Course National Championships.
    The 15-year-old from Ashland didn’t disappoint.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Salyers shoots 75 for title at Lakeside

    Baylee Salyers of Flatwoods shot a 3-over par 75 at Lakeside Golf Course on Thursday to win the Girls Open division of the Walmart Kentucky PGA Junior Tour event.

    July 24, 2014

  • 0724putnamwebshot.JPG Laying the foundation Workers are finishing the foundation for the locker room on the home side of Putnam Stadium on Tuesday. The Ashland Tomcats open the football season on Aug. 22 against Newport Catholic.

    July 23, 2014

  • Genuine throwback

    Todd Eastham is disproving the old cliche, “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.”

    July 23, 2014

  • MARK MAYNARD: Looking for those who inspire

    Inspirtation, they say, comes from within. It is defined as an inspiring or animating action or influence.

    July 22, 2014

  • 0722KYPGA_152.jpg Jones tops Gillum in playoff at Eagle Trace

    Ashland senior golfer Logan Jones didn't shoot his average Monday.
    He didn't mind.
    His three-over par 75 and one-hole playoff win over Elliott County junior Ryan Gillum gave him the Boys Open division title in the Kentucky PGA Junior Tour stop at Morehead State University's Eagle Trace Golf Course.

    July 21, 2014 6 Photos

  • 102213_329a.jpg Raceland tabs Clark as new girls basketball coach

    Jason Clark has a reputation of being — to use his word — “passionate” on the Raceland volleyball sideline.
    He plans to bring that same approach as the Lady Rams’ new basketball coach.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0305region2_389.jpg Pass the Mayo: East sophomore PG, Lady Raiders preparing for winter run

    East Carter sophomore point guard Kristen Mayo has played basketball for as long as she can remember.

    July 18, 2014 2 Photos