By Conor Revell
Mercy’s tenth-ranked softball team might be having a down season by its standards, but many teams would like to be in its place right now.
The Jaguars are one win away from winning their fourth straight regional title after beating North Bullitt 8-1 in a Sixth Region semifinal game Wednesday night at the University of Louisville.
“We are starting to buy into executing and sacrificing for the team,” Mercy head coach Greg Meiners said. “They have been doing a good job of doing that the last couple of weeks. We have been getting up on teams and it’s important to do that when you have strong pitching because our pitchers don’t need a big lead. We only need two or three runs.”
The Jaguars (22-12) stormed ahead with a four-run first inning.
Jordan Vorbrink singled, stole second base and raced home when Melissa Collins’ bunt was mishandled. Abby Wilder singled in Collins, Kasey Kinsey blasted a double to score Wilder and Lexi Ray’s grounder brought in Kinsey.
“I was seeing the pitch that I wanted and I didn’t hesitate going to the ball,” Wilder said. “I also threw my hands out there like I’m supposed to.”
Mercy added three more runs in the third inning to build a 7-0 lead and ended the scoring with a run in the seventh.
North Bullitt (13-16) scored its lone run when Breanna Sherrard singled, then scored on Shelby Kenshaw’s double.
Leigh Ellen Thomas pitched six innings for the Jaguars, allowing one run and three hits while striking out 10 and walking none.
“She was being calm and collected,” Meiners said. “She’s very humble, but she’s very confident. With Leigh out there, I feel really good. I told her that we were going to try and get three or four runs and let her do the rest.”
Ray pitched the seventh and allowed one hit.
Savannah Guelda, Alanna Summer, Sherrard and Crenshaw recorded hits for the Eagles.
Crenshaw manned the circle for North Bullitt and allowed 10 hits. Her defense committed two errors.
“A lot of her pitches were first-pitch strike, so I tried to be aggressive at the plate,” Ray said. “That worked out in two of my three at-bats.”
Wilder and Ray led the Jaguars with two hits apiece. Sam Dykes, Madison Dykes, Vorbrink, Thomas and Kinsey recorded hits for Mercy.
The Jaguars will play the Bullitt East-Holy Cross winner in the Sixth Region championship game at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
“I’m looking for us to fight, I’m looking for us to execute and I’m looking for us to play great defense,” Meiners said. “We are going to be very confident.”