It takes only one game. Few are more firm believers in that fact than the small schools that find themselves in underdog roles year after year.
As each baseball/softball season passes, thirty-plus games are played and hundreds of practices are conducted in hopes that one day in May will become magical.
Those May days start today.
District tournament first pitches will be fired from all different directions across the state tonight, including a few close to home.
After door-knocking to shocking in two of the last three years, is this the season that Raceland finally busts open the pinata and grants itself a surprise party invitation? Or will Greenup County keep them blindfolded?
The Rams are one of several underdogs to keep an eye on this week, as just one first-round win in the district tournament is all it takes to punch a 16th Region Tournament ticket and punch out a favorite who already had its bags packed.
That favorite is Greenup County (probably without the bags packed part). Coach Greg Logan’s bunch won’t come in overconfident, because they tasted first-round defeat last season.
The Musketeers went undefeated inside the 63rd District this season, and the last time they met Raceland in the first round ended in a 10-0 Greenup County win (2011).
However, the Rams are still one of the dangerous underdogs set to take the field this week.
One reason, as the Shortstop alluded to earlier, is how close they came in 2010 and ’12. The Rams nearly knocked off Russell in an eight-inning affair from which the Red Devils emerged, 10-9, three seasons back. And just last year, Raceland put a scare into the Devils again, only to fall 4-3.
Raceland has some nice wins on its resume, including victories over Ashland and Russell.
Senior pitcher Zayne Sammons, who got the win against the Tomcats, will be on the mound for the Rams sporting an earned run average in the low 2’s and a ratio of one strikeout per inning pitched.
Of course, Greenup County may counter with ace Seth Boyle, who has tallied five complete games this season.
This is just one of several 63rd District baseball and softball showdowns that figure to be must-sees.
Whatever happens, only eight baseball and eight softball teams will remain in the 16th Region by Friday.
The 57th District, which includes Paintsville, Johnson Central and Lawrence County, is hosting its tournament at Johnson Central High School this week. Tuesday night’s Paintsville-Lawrence County baseball matchup should be a dandy.
‰In writing about Ashland senior Logan Salow’s perfect game last week, I mentioned that Salow previously threw a perfect game as a member of the Ashland National Little League All-Stars in 2007.
Thanks to a reader who emailed some detailed information, here’s another ...
Greg Swift pitched a perfect game for ANLL in the state quarterfinals against Somerset in the 1970s. He had 15 strikeouts in the contest, with two of the balls put in play being bunt attempts.
That year, ANLL lost to Lexington Central in the state finals in Bowling Green on a walk-off two-run home run.
‰Salow was recognized for his perfection before Tuesday’s game against Russell. Bobby Lynch helped present a plaque to the Tomcat for his rare achievement. Lynch was the last ’Cat to throw a perfect game. He did so against Ceredo-Kenova in a five-inning 10-0 win in 1968.
‰Ashland’s win over Russell marked its fourth straight overall, a streak that took form following a 4-3 loss to East Carter. There must be something about losing to the Raiders. Each time the Tomcats have done so, they strung together a bunch of wins — they won nine straight after falling to East Carter in April.
‰The last time Ashland softball lost to the same 16th Region opponent twice in the same season was 2010, when Russell accomplished the task. The Lady Devils did it again in 2013, with Mallory Powell leading the way.
‰Cable Wright, Bath County’s ace pitcher and top hitter, signed with Morehead State University on Thursday. The left-hander also received offers from Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky, Marshall and Cincinnati.
‰The Shortstop hopes you’re not mad at him, but he elected to throw out the Super Seven rankings this week. After all, they’re all going to be null and void in a matter of days anyway. No hard grounders, please!
Now, for the district championship predictions I’m sure everyone has been clamoring for:
‰64th baseball (at Ashland): Boyd County over Ashland; 64th softball (at Boyd Co.): Ashland over Boyd County.
Boyd County baseball coach Brandon Ramsey had some strong words about his team following a disappointing 6-3 loss to Russell in which the Lions left 14 men on base. The sophomore-heavy group responds by “growing up” as he requested and rises to the challenge against the Tomcats.
In softball, the Lady Lions can swing the bats with just about anybody. However, Ashland, fueled by pitcher Megan Hensley, continues to have Boyd County’s number in 2013.
‰63rd baseball (at Russell): Greenup County over Lewis County; 63rd softball (at Russell): Russell over Greenup County.
The Musketeers, still working on fully avenging their district dismissal a year ago, continue to roll inside the 63rd. The Lady Musketeers, meanwhile, hold off Raceland in what I predict will be the second extra-inning game between the pair this year.
‰62nd baseball (at West Carter): East Carter over West Carter; 62nd softball (at West Carter): East Carter over West Carter.
The Raiders are tough to figure out. Somehow they lose to Lawrence County, 10-0, to turn around and beat the Bulldogs 4-2 less than two weeks later. That sample serves as a microcosm to their season. They will finish strong behind their bats.
The battle of the Carters continues on the softball diamond. While this is a toss-up, I can see East Carter pounding out a clutch hit in the late innings.
‰61st baseball (at Fleming Co.): Bath County over Rowan County; 61st softball (at Fleming Co.): Rowan County over Fleming County.
The last two times that Bath County and Rowan County met in the 61st District baseball championship (2005, 2006), a combined 53 runs were scored in the two games — 40 by Rowan County.
The Wildcats wind up on top this time around. In softball, Fleming County-Menifee County is the can’t-miss game.
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Aaron Snyder can be contacted email@example.com or (606) 326-2664.