FLEMINGSBURG Ashland's softball team was feeling a little disrespected.
The defending 16th Region champion Kittens nevertheless reached the finals Monday when they dismissed Bath County, 8-1, in the semifinals at Fleming County.
“We haven't been at the top of anybody's list this year, and that's fine,” Ashland coach Scott Ingram said. “This is our time of year right here, and that's when we want to make our statement.”
In addition to the 2019 championship, Ashland (20-14) won region titles from 2010-12 and 2014-15. Ingram is a softball history teacher – sort of.
“Not about specific years, but obviously these kids know the history,” Ingram said. “They've all been around it, and they want to uphold it.”
Senior Kendall Hillard made a forceful statement. She was 3 for 4 with a two-run home run, six runs batted in and two scored.
“It was a good at-bat for me,” Hillard said of the homer. “It was fouling off pitch after pitch and then having a 3-2 count. I kind of swung at it.”
Ashland senior Kenzi Robinson struck out eight and was 2 for 4 at the plate. She didn't care that her fastball is slower than some because her curve, rise ball and drop ball worked.
“Honestly, in my opinion it doesn't matter about your speed as long as you spin the ball,” Robinson said. “It tricks batters all day.”
Hillard's two-run first-inning single off Kirsten Vice scored Camryn Cassidy and Kaythan Baer. Her long, far one in the third also plated Robinson, and a two-run single in the seventh sent Lauren Spears and Robinson home.
Robinson's single in the seventh scored Baer, who had tripled.
Spears usually leads Ashland's offense. She had a single and scored a run Monday, but she turned the defensive play of the game in the fourth when she threw out Bath County's Diamond Wills trying to steal second – the first time Wills had been erased in 27 attempts.
“At that point we were rolling the dice, trying to make something happen,” Bath County coach Kenny Williams said.
Williams also bemoaned stranding runners on second and third with none out in the fifth and sixth.
“We set the table and got nothing,” Williams said. “And that's a credit to (Robinson). She did a good job of keeping us off balance all day.”
Bath County (27-12) avoided a shutout in the seventh when Rae-Leigh Purvis doubled and scored on Selah Bussell's single.
ASHLAND 202 000 4 – 8 11 1
BATH CO. 000 000 1 – 1 7 2
Robinson and Spears; Vice and Miller. WP-Robinson-; LP-Vice. HR-Hillard (A). 3B-Baer (A). 2B-Purvis (BC).