PREVIEW: Ballard and Butler ready for state tournament

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The Ballard and Butler softball teams start play in the Owensboro Health/KHSAA Fast Pitch Softball State Tournament at Jack C. Fisher Park Thursday night.

Butler vs. East Carter – Blue Field, 6 p.m. EDT

Head coach Brittany Braun and her Butler squad are making their first state tournament appearance in 11 years.

The Bearettes will be led by freshman stud Sadie Werner in the circle who had a 1.35 ERA in 114 innings pitched and struck out 127 hitters.

Anna Greenwell will lead Butler at the plate and is hitting .441 with one home run and 19 RBIs in 102 plate appearances.

Carley Ziegler (.416, 1 HR, 17 RBIs) and Katie Templeman (.406, 1 HR, 11 RBIs) are the two other big threats at the plate.

Montana Fouts, East Carter’s ace and Alabama signee, is a towering threat in the circle and had a 0.07 ERA in 196 innings pitched and struck out a whopping 417 players.

Fouts is also dangerous at the plate – she batted a whopping .604 – and blasted 12 home runs and drove in 66 runs.

Eden Mayo, a University of Louisville signee, batted .451 with five homers and 36 RBIs. Taylor Jackson (.426, 3 HRs, 27 RBIs), Gracie Robinson (.370, 2 HRs, 11 RBIs), and Graycee Castle (.389, 2 HRs, 31 RBIs) are all hitting over .350 with at least 75 plate appearances.

Conor’s pick: Butler can and will win this game if East Carter does not back up Montana Fouts with good defense. Outside of Fouts and Eden Mayo, the Bearettes are the far superior team. But, you can’t pick against Fouts, one of the best pitchers in the country. East Carter wins 2-0 in a low scoring affair.

Ballard vs. Central Hardin – Yellow Field, 6 p.m. EDT                  

Head coach Alan Jones and his Ballard squad is making an appearance in the state tournament for the first time in seven years.

Ballard comes into the tourney with two Division I pitchers – Shelby Kelley (1.41 ERA, 104 IP, 103 Ks) and Alivia Sinnott (1.80 ERA, 97 IP, 106 Ks) – most teams will only have one stud in the circle – with two Jones doesn’t have to worry about his throwers tiring out.

Allie Skaggs, an Arizona commit, is one of the top sophomores in the state and is batting .531 with 12 home runs and 51 RBIs, she will be a force to be reckoned with at the plate.

Madison Alexander (.413, 1 HR, 12 RBIs, 16 stolen bases), Kelley (.527, 1 HR, 41 RBIs), and Kristen Klimesh (.416, 11 RBIs) are all hitting over .400 with at least 75 plate appearances.

Central Hardin will be led by pitcher Kaci Goedde who has a 1.76 ERA in 119 innings pitches and has struck out 88 batters.

The player Kelley and Sinnott have to worry about is Emily Bryant who is batting .538 with 11 home runs and 49 runs batted in.

Meredith Jones (.430, 1 HR, 15 RBIs), Angel Ashlock (.380, 4 HRs, 25 RBIs), Peyton Beger (.385, 6 HRs, 34 RBIs), and Bailey Richardson (.333, 6 HRs, 25 RBIs) are big bats for Central Hardin.

Conor’s pick: Jones will have his ball club ready to play. The Bruins cruised past Central Hardin 9-0 during the final week of the regular season. I expect Sinnott and Kelley to be a dominant force in the circle and for Skaggs, Alexander, and Kelley to have big game at the plate. Ballard wins 5-0 and takes advantage of their chances when given.