FLEMINGSBURG Bath County’s Jesselin Miller had to make a quick trip from Owingsville to Flemingsburg on Saturday morning.
The senior’s pivotal hit in the fourth inning might have traveled just as far.
Miller approached the plate with the bases loaded and she belted a grand slam over the left-field fence.
The catcher’s 11th dinger of the season gave the Lady Cats an 8-0 lead. It proved to be an advantage East Carter could not overcome as Bath County won, 11-1, in six innings in its 16th Region Tournament opener at Fleming County High School.
It was the Lady Cats’ third straight region appearance and first win in school history, according to coach Kenny Williams.
Miller is taking part in the May Day festival back home. The annual event is a special, historic and important day to the citizens of Owingsville. The festivities were delayed due to COVID-19 and Miller was fulfilling her pageant obligations before the contest.
“I had two lineups made,” Williams said. “One with her and one without. I knew that she was going to be here, I just didn’t know when. It’s not the straightest shot from (Flemingsburg) to Owingsville. I knew there would be a few bumps in the road. Luckily, she got here, and this is all storybook right now.”
Bath County won its first 61st District Tournament crown last week and can envision more success. The Lady Cats got on the board quick with three runs in the first inning.
Diamond Wills was active on the base pads. She reached on a bunt single in her first at-bat. She consequently stole three bases, including home after she took advantage of a lofted throw from the catcher.
Starting pitching Kirstin Vice helped herself with her own run support. She lined a two-run single later in the stanza to give her team an early 3-0 lead.
“She will be my Sidney Argo,” Williams said of Wills, referring to the Fleming County star. “When we played Fleming County, we had to dedicate a little practice time on her. (Diamond) will be that kid for me. She does what she does, and she is hard to get out.”
East Carter mounted an offensive surge in the third inning. The Lady Raiders put runners on the corners with no one out. Unfortunately, a runner was caught stealing and the play was followed by two groundouts.
“It was huge, especially when you get down to teams of this caliber like Bath County,” Calhoun said. “They are very solid all around. If you don’t take advantage and get runners across, it will come back to hurt you.”
“We saw it there in the fourth inning,” he continued. “We made a couple of errors and they got a couple on base. Then they hit a four-run homer. Once you get it to 8-0, it’s pretty much out of reach because their pitcher is so solid.”
The East Carter (21-13) miscues helped prolong the inning and gave Miller the opportunity to capitalize with the home run. Two hits and a pair of walks kept runners on base. An error produced the other Bath County tally in a five-run frame.
Ashtyn Barrett scored on a wild pitch to open the sixth stanza. Wills singled and Miller walked before a Lady Raiders throwing error plated both players for the winning runs.
“I saw that the ball was far enough away that it may have been a bang-bang play,” Williams said of the final sequence, “but I wanted to take that opportunity. Let’s get it over in six. We have to credit East Carter. They are young and Derek does a great job.”
The Lady Raiders scored its only run in the fifth with the help of a Bath County error.
Calhoun said there is added benefit for his club to be part of the region tournament field.
“It’s very good for experience,” Calhoun said. “You are able to get here and feel this (atmosphere). If you don’t get to come, you don’t get to experience it. We have seven girls that had never been in a region tournament before. I thought the girls played hard. We just made a few too many mistakes. We can’t have them in those situations.”
Wills scored three times for Bath County (27-11). Kassidy Thomas collected two hits.
The Lady Cats welcomed back Taylor Hodson after she missed the last month with a broken finger.
“We didn’t find out until Friday that she was clear,” Williams said. “When she went out at Rowan County, she was one of the best sticks that we had. She works hard. We talked about it. I told her I don’t know why you are going through this, but there is a reason. To have her back out today, it was uplifting.”
Bath County meets Ashland in Monday's first region semifinal.
(606) 326-2654 |
E. CARTER 000 010 — 1 4 4
BATH CO. 300 503 — 11 8 4
Tussey and Porter; Vice and Miller. W—Vice. L—Tussey. GS—Miller (BC).