LLOYD Raceland and Russell have played to one-run decisions 11 times over the last eight years, including twice during the recently completed regular season, and the Lady Rams executed stylish rallies to top the Lady Devils in their last three meetings.

Neither happened Monday night in the 63rd District Tournament semifinals. Raceland pounced with Rylee Austin’s two-run home run in the first inning, Chloe Collins added a three-run shot in the fourth and Cameryn Davidson allowed one run over six-plus innings as the Lady Rams took down the Lady Devils, 9-1, at Greenup County.

Raceland advanced to the district tournament final and the 16th Region Tournament by beating Russell in uncharacteristically drama-free fashion.

“We knew we were gonna be one stick short in the lineup,” Lady Rams coach Shawn Johnson said of Raceland being without slugger Kierston Smith, who is on the mend from a severe kidney infection and accompanying back pain. “You can’t expect to always come back, and we knew early on we were gonna need to manufacture some runs, make them make some plays, and then if we had some opportunities, we’d cash in.”

Hannah Wilson was 3 for 4 and scored three runs, Austin doubled and homered to drive in three runs, Collins supplied a three-run dinger and had two hits, Emily Johnson hit a two-run single and Davidson went 3 for 4 for Raceland’s 13-hit attack.

“That’s capitalizing on your baserunners, and we did a really good job of that,” Shawn Johnson said. “Cam threw a wonderful game, the defense was really good and we played the game very well today.

“Plus, I got at least two more games in my coaching career,” added a grinning Johnson, who plans to retire after the season.

Raceland (26-10) did have to make at least one key defensive play. With Russell trailing 7-0, Lady Devils senior Makayla Fraley began the top of the sixth inning with a double, and a Raceland pitch to the next batter skipped away.

Lady Rams catcher Aspyn Branham chased it down, though, and threw Fraley out at third to extinguish Russell’s rally before it really began.

“The common person in the stands doesn’t understand how big a play that was,” Johnson said. “That records the first out of the inning at third base. ... What they had going was already stopped. It was a great play. Chloe stood in there; she knew she was gonna get cleated, she got cleated, made the tag (at third base). It was a great play by Aspyn and a gutsy play by Chloe.”

Davidson lasted one batter into the seventh inning. She recorded only one strikeout, but walked no Lady Devils.

Raceland had planned to have Davidson pitch the elimination game for three weeks, Johnson said, because he likes the Lady Rams’ defensive personnel best that way. Though Smith was unable to play shortstop, Raegan West filled in there with aplomb, recording five assists before moving to the circle to get the final three outs.

Johnson credited Raceland assistants Rob West and Destiny Goins with properly positioning the Lady Rams’ defenders to make plays.

“We knew where they were gonna hit the ball,” Johnson said. “We had people there, and our kids made the plays. It was about as complete an effort as you could have. We couldn’t have prepared or played much better than we did today.”

Haylee Thornsberry went 2 for 3 and scored the lone run for Russell (15-18). Hannah Allen plated her on an RBI groundout in the seventh inning.

“Hats off to them,” Lady Devils coach Terry Callihan said of Raceland. “They played a great game. We played their game, and wish it would’ve gone differently. Davidson had a good outing, and we struggled to hit, and bad things happen when you don’t hit the ball.”

Jaedon Boggs took the decision in the circle.

The Lady Devils will miss the district final and the region tournament for the first time since 2007.

“We just gotta figure out a way to get over the top,” Callihan said. “We had a lot of close games. The girls never really gave up; the ball just never really bounced our way.”

RUSSELL    000    000    1    —    1    6    1

RACELAND    202    302    X    —    9    13    4

Boggs, Layne (2) and Holland; Davidson, R. West (7) and Branham. W—Davidson. L—Boggs. 2B—Fraley (Ru), Thornsberry (Ru), Austin (Ra). HR —Collins (Ra), Austin (Ra).

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zklemme@dailyindependent.com