LLOYD It wasn’t a majestic shot over the fence and into the trees.
In fact, it didn’t find vegetation of any sort.
Madi Liles’ eighth-inning walk-off RBI infield single on Monday night would nonetheless have to be considered the most important base hit Lewis County’s softball team has had in 11 years. It plated Hailey Evans to send the Lady Lions past Greenup County, 2-1, and into the 63rd District Tournament final and the 16th Region Tournament for the first time since 2008.
“I wanted to have a better shot than that,” Liles said, “but everything worked.”
Monday night’s district semifinal reminded Lewis County coach Mike Diller of a game 364 days earlier in Vanceburg. That night, the Lady Lions pushed Russell to the brink before a season-ending 5-4 walk-off loss.
Lewis County certainly enjoyed Monday’s outcome better than last year’s, if the Lady Lions’ wild mobbing of Evans after she scored the game-winning run was any indication.
“It’s a growing experience,” Diller said. “Listen, (Greenup County’s) record’s not indicative of what they are. ... We knew coming in it was gonna be a tough ball game. We just ended up persevering.”
Lewis County fell behind almost immediately when Greenup County’s Zoey Keeton, the third batter of the game, cranked a run-scoring double to the fence in right-center field.
That was all the Lady Musketeers got. Eighth-grade hurler Emily Cole only allowed four more runners into scoring position. Liles picked one off second base in the second inning, and with Greenup County runners on the corners and two outs in the top of the eighth, Cole induced a ground ball back to herself and got the inning-ending out at first.
Lewis County’s Jessi Lawhun tied the game with an RBI double off the left-center-field fence in the fourth inning.
“We made the plays at the end when we had to,” Diller said. “Greenup put pressure on us in the last couple innings there, we got a couple of nice plays out of it, and we put the ball in play. When you put the ball in play, good things happen.”
Evans reached on a fielder’s choice in the bottom of the eighth, with Lady Musketeer shortstop Launa Ratcliff sprawling to make the play at second base. Two errors from a Greenup County defense that hadn’t made any in regulation set the stage for Liles, who beat out a ground ball up the middle to score Evans and end it.
“We played a good game,” Lady Musketeers coach Eric Keeton said. “I thought we did a really good job defensively. We just had a few breakdowns there in that last inning that didn’t allow us to get out of the inning to get back up to bat.”
Mykenzie Crosier took the decision for Greenup County (8-18). She was backed by a series of strong defensive plays, including Ratcliff snaring a laser bound for left-center and picking a Lady Lion off third for a double play to end the third inning and catcher Sutton Imel’s sensational diving catch along the first-base line in the seventh.
“Kenzie’s been a workhorse over the last couple years,” Keeton said. “She pitched a whale of a game and I couldn’t ask any more out of her.”
Lewis County improved to 21-10, extending its single-season school record for victories, and will meet Raceland tonight in the district final at Greenup County.
The Lady Musketeers sought their first district semifinal win since 2014.
GREENUP CO. 100 000 00 — 1 4 2
LEWIS CO. 000 100 01 — 2 5 5
Crosier and Imel; Cole and Sizemore. W — Cole. L — Crosier. 2B — Keeton (GC), Lawhun (LC).
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