Story by Conor Revell
MOUNT WASHINGTON, Ky. — Holy Cross pitcher Allie Just and Bullitt East counterpart Taylor Roby held an epic scoreless battle for six innings.
But the bats came alive in the seventh inning, and No. 16 Holy Cross scored three runs in the eighth inning and then held on for 4-3 victory over the 14th-ranked Lady Chargers Tuesday night. The Cougars (6-4) have won four straight since losing a 6-0 lead in a loss to Oldham County last week.
“We have been a different team over the last week,” Holy Cross head coach Tony Young said. “We really had a gut check moment after the Oldham County game and decided to find out what we were made of. It was well noted that I told them that they weren’t a good team, and they have come around to what I’ve been asking for two years now. They’re doing everything that I’m asking them to do.”
With the score tied at 1 as the eighth inning started, Shelby Atzinger singled for Holy Cross, then stole second and third base. Just reached base with an infield single while Atzinger pretended to head toward home but decided to stay at third.
Ally Brutscher’s one-out single chased home Atzinger to put the Cougars ahead 2-1, and Morgan Gailor’s double knocked in Just and Brutscher to make it a three-run advantage.
“It was the second pitch of the at-bat and, to be honest, I think she may have missed her spot,” Brutscher said. “It was right down the middle. I was easily able to get a handle on it.”
Brutscher said it meant a lot and “was a relief” to get what proved to be the deciding hit after her pop-up with the bases loaded ended a scoring threat in the sixth.
“Everyone has those moments,” said Christa Brutscher, one of Ally’s triplet sisters. “We just tapped her on the head and told her that she’s good and that she’s got it.”
Gailor’s two RBIs proved to be valuable when Kameron Bowling replaced Just and gave up a two-run homer to Roby that pulled Bullitt East (4-3) within 4-3 with just one out.
“She can hit the ball hard,” Bullitt East head coach Ricky D. Hoffman said of Roby. “When we’re in batting practice, they go over almost every time. She’s a masher.”
However, Bowling struck out Hannah Dahl and got Loren Roby to pop out, ending the game.
“I knew that she was going to pull it out,” Just said. “I was already ahead of her thinking that the bases are clear now and that it’ll be easier for her.”
Going into the seventh, the Cougars had only three hits, two of them infield singles.
With one out in the Holy Cross seventh, pinch hitter Morgan Gailor reached base when Dahl, a third baseman, overthrew Lauren Mudd at first base. Courtesy runner Bella Howard advanced to second on Maranda Jacobs’ sacrifice bunt.
Christa Brutscher’s second hit of the game was a triple to right-center field that drove in Howard for a 1-0 lead.
“I knew the umpire had been calling the outside pitch for a strike all game,” Christa Brutscher said. “I told myself to make an adjustment and get up on the plate and drive the ball.”
It was no surprise to Young that Christa Brutscher was responsible for breaking the scoreless tie.
“Right now, offensively we are being led by Christa Brutscher,” Young said. “If that kid isn’t being mentioned right now for Miss Softball in the state of Kentucky, then there’s something wrong. She’s probably batting .500 for us and we have not played a weak schedule. We have played an elite schedule. Last night she hit a three-run home run against the No. 1 team in the state of Indiana. The kid has been spectacular. She’s the best player in Louisville right now.”
Just got the first two Lady Chargers out in the bottom half, but Jordan Goers singled and scored the tying run on a double by Mudd that took a bad bounce in left field.
“I told my players that the game wasn’t over,” Hoffman said. “We started the night not wanting to be the best, just wanting to do our best. It’s really early in the season, so we haven’t played much this year. We were at the bottom of the order and we ended up getting lucky with that one run.”
Just allowed one run and four hits in seven innings while striking out 12 and walking one.
“My curve ball was working really well tonight,” Just said. “I had to focus because I’ve been struggling lately, but got it done tonight.”
Taylor Roby pitched a complete game and allowed eight hits — five in the last two innings — walked three and struck out 11.
“She did really well for six innings,” Hoffman said. “She hasn’t thrown very many games this year. I was really happy with her performance.”