East Carter eighth-grader Montana Fouts has become the Dave Stieb of 16th Region softball.
The right-hander has racked up a handful of near no-hitters, and just as the former Toronto Blue Jay, she’s been excruciatingly close to completing the accomplishment.
Stieb lost no-hitters with two outs in the ninth inning in back-to-back games in 1988.
A single out separated Fouts from a no-hitter in two consecutive contests against Rowan County and Raceland. She saw them both disappear in the seventh.
We at The Independent initially reported that Fouts fell victim in the exact situation in the 62nd District championship game against West Carter. She actually gave up a hit earlier in the game, though, when a Lady Comet knocked a ball off the fence but was tagged out at second base.
Either way, Fouts’s season is nothing short of remarkable. She’ll likely get the ball against five-time 16th Region champion Ashland in the opening round of the region tournament tonight at 8 at Russell.
While the no-hitter may continue to elude her, she’ll get hers eventually. Stieb did on Sept. 2, 1990.
Before getting to tournament predictions, here are a few items of note as we head into one of the most entertaining weeks of the year:
-East Carter’s baseball team is out of the region tournament field for the first time since 1995. Raiders coach Jeremiah Shearer took the pitching loss in the first round of the district tournament that season.
-Maybe there’s a host hex. Upon suffering one of the most shocking losses of the season to Morgan County, East Carter joined Lewis County and Bath County as teams to miss the region tournament despite hosting it since the event moved away from Morehead State in 2011. Of the four hosts, Ashland (2013) was the only one to avoid the curse.
-Half of the eight remaining 16th Region softball teams have losing records.
-Bath County baseball is the first team since 2010 to own fewer than 10 wins and still make the tournament.
-If the next few days are as gorgeous as this weekend has been, we’re in for a treat. The forecast for today looks clear. According to weather.com, the high is 87 degrees and the low is 64. There is a 30 percent chance of rain this evening.
Now for a little segment we call “Snyder says!”
If last week’s district tournament picks are any indication, consider yourself lucky if I don’t put you in the winner’s circle.
First round — Rowan County 5, Lewis County 3; Boyd County 4, West Carter 1; Ashland 9, Bath County 3; Greenup County 8, Morgan County 2.
Semifinals — Boyd County 8, Rowan County 4; Ashland 3, Greenup County 2.
Finals — Ashland 4, Boyd County 3.
Having the most dependable pitching arms makes the difference as Ashland squeaks out a win in another sure-to-be classic between the Tomcats and Lions.
Ashland coach Dave Miller pleaded for me to avoid picking the Kittens, noting that I selected Boyd County as the champion in each of the last two seasons before Ashland went on to win its fourth and fifth titles in a row.
Sorry Coach, but I must go against your wishes.
First round — Russell 7, Rowan County 3; Ashland 2, East Carter 1; West Carter 4, Fleming County 3; Boyd County 10, Greenup County 5.
Semifinals — Ashland 5, Russell 2; Boyd County 11, West Carter 1.
Finals — Ashland 6, Boyd County 3.
Starting with Miller, the Kittens were none too pleased about the outcome of the 64th District championship. The rematch between the Lady Lions and Kittens, which has been the title game pairing in three of the past four postseasons, goes the way of Ashland as it transforms the anger into the right emotional mix for getting No. 6.
15th Region Picks
Johnson Central’s baseball team has rolled off 11 wins in its last 12 games.
Meanwhile, the Lady Eagles are doing quite well, too. They haven’t lost to a 15th Region opponent all season.
Snyder says Johnson Central wins both the region softball and baseball tournaments.
1. Johnson Central (27-10)
2. Ashland (22-8)
3. Boyd County (19-15)
4. Greenup County (21-15)
5. Lawrence County (21-12)
6. Paintsville (22-7)
7. West Carter (20-7)
1. Ashland (28-5)
2. East Carter (28-5)
3. Boyd County (22-12)
4. Johnson Central (22-8)
5. Russell (15-16)
6. Rowan County (20-18)
7. Greenup County (11-15)
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