FLEMINGSBURG Emily Cole spent Friday night watching Alabama's Montana Fouts throw a perfect game against UCLA in the Women's College World Series.
Lewis County's sophomore pitcher was not flawless against Rowan County on Saturday, but she was close enough. She struck out 12 to send the Lady Lions to the 16th Region semifinals with a 7-1 victory at Fleming County.
“I love Montana,” Cole said.
Cole struck out at least one Lady Viking in each inning. In the seventh, she whiffed Bayleigh Caskey, Trinity Hughes and Kassie Perkins to finish the evening.
Lewis County's Summer Egbert, Maddie Johnson and Kayla Sullivan had the best nights at the plate. Egbert was 3 for 3 with three runs scored, while Johnson and Sullivan were 2 for 3 with a run apiece.
It's been a rough week for Lewis County, and not just because basketball legend Ralph Davis Jr. passed away May 30. Coach Joe Hampton reminisced about two beloved Lion fans – Sandy Ruckel, who passed away May 31, and her father-in-law, Jerry Ruckel, who died two days later.
“These days are a blur,” Hampton said. “(Jerry) went to everything. He was at every basketball game, boys or girls, baseball.”
Rowan County (16-15) managed just two singles. Sophomore shortstop Haven Ford had them both to go with five stolen bases and scoring the Lady Vikings' lone run in the sixth inning on a wild pitch.
Cole baffled the Lady Vikings with her rise ball.
“I feel like I've really been working on it a lot to get it spinning more,” she said. “It was my go-to pitch (Saturday).”
Rowan County coach Larry Slone added: “Execution is crucial if you're going to compete. Most of the younger kids are going to struggle with the rise ball. If they don't recognize it and lay off from it, they're going to swing through it.”
Ford reached third base in the first and third innings. She stayed there because Caskey to grounded out in the first and Haley Middleton popped out in the third.
Lewis County (19-8) meets Boyd County, a 7-6 winner over Elliott County, at 7 p.m. Monday. Cannonsburg's Lady Lions beat Vanceburg's, 5-1, May 11.
“It's survive and advance right now,” Hampton said. “I tried to explain to make sure we got our mindset corrected. I feel like the target's kind of on us in our games right now.”
ROWAN CO. 000 001 0 – 1 2 2
LEWIS CO. 001 222 x – 7 9 0
Middleton, Perkins (4) and Frazier; Cole and Tackett. WP-Cole; LP-Middleton. 2B-Cole (LC), Tackett (LC).