(Cover photo credit: Samantha Stallings)
In an opening game of the Seventh Region tournament, the Ballard Bruins run ruled the Sacred Heart Academy Valkyries in six innings to finish the game with an 11-0 score.
“Male is the favorite,” said Ballard head coach Alan Jones after the game on his team’s impending match up against the Bulldogs on June 1. “We know that and we have keep what we are doing. When you focus on one team so much, it kind of takes you out. We have to go in there and relax. Male is the favorite, Male is supposed to win, but we are going to go in there and just play ball and have fun.”
Sacred Heart got their bats going early in the first, getting two on base. Yet, two strikeouts by Ballard pitcher Sarah Brill stranded those two runners.
The Bruins got their first two runs of the game in the first – one off a double by Alexis Smith and another off a deep single to left field by Catie Barber to put the Bruins up 2-0.
Both teams were able to battle it out in the second to leave the score at 2-0, Ballard.
“We focus on our game and play for our team, for others, and our families,” said Ballard’s Macie Hollis. “We don’t fight against ourselves and we play for each other.”
The Valkyries got on base both in the third and fourth innings, but were unable to bring a runner in.
The Bruins got their bats swinging again in the fourth as they brought in two more runs to make the score 4-0. The Ballard runs were brought in with a sacrifice fly by Barber and a double to left field by Taylor Klumb.
“We don’t really think about the games that could be coming,” said Ballard’s Allie Skaggs. “We just focus on the now. We need to stay in the moment and focus. Instead of picturing we are going to win state, we are going to take it one game at a time.”
The Bruins led off the fifth inning with an inside-the-park home run by Skaggs to put the Bruins up 5-0, but that would not be all that inning as Skyelar Houston would triple, bringing in Smith. Ballard brought in one more run to bring the score to 6-0 before the inning was over.
The Bruins brought in four more runs in the sixth to close out the game and advance to the semifinals on Wednesday at the University of Louisville’s Ulmer Field. Ballard will face Male at 7:30 p.m.
“ We have a young group coming back,” said Sacred Heart head coach Bob Wheatly. “We have to get more numbers out in the program and we have to get people committed to being at softball. They went through the wars this year. We played a brutal schedule. It was a very tough. Our record was not what we wanted it to be, but they gave their best every game and as a coach that is all you can ask for.”