By Conor Revell
Third-ranked Scott County defeated the No. 10 Jaguars 1-0 in a nine-inning thriller Thursday night at Jack C. Fisher Park.
Scott County’s Samantha Luckett started the winning rally with a single up the middle. Jordan Ison followed with a groundball that Mercy shortstop Lexy Wright fielded cleanly, but Wright threw the ball over first baseman Jordan Vorbrink’s head and Luckett raced all the way home.
Kennedy Sullivan then shut down the Jaguars (23-14) in order to seal the win.
“I was tremendously disappointed in our lack of effort and execution,” Mercy head coach Greg Miners said. “We had really gotten good at sacrificing to move the runners over. We took a significant step backwards tonight. It is what is. Maybe it was the pressure of the situation. We were kind of low on energy. It’s one game, but we are aware of the uphill battle we now face.”
The Jaguars are still alive in the double-elimination tournament but will have to play No. 2 Madisonville-North Hopkins in the losers’ bracket at noon EDT Friday. Madisonville lost 6-0 to Male in the first round but was in a scoreless tie until the sixth inning.
Sullivan was dominant in the circle for Scott County (31-8). She threw a complete game and held Mercy to four hits while striking out 10 and walking four.
“She’s an awesome pitcher,” Vorbrink said. “She was mowing a lot of girls down. We have seen her three times now. The umpire was giving her a wider zone. For a while we were taking the pitches, but then we were done and we were getting under it and popping it up. She was working high in the zone.”
Mercy’s Leigh Ellen Thomas was just as brilliant, allowing only three hits and no earned runs while striking out 10 and walking three.
“I was throwing my screwball and I would throw the drop ball and they were swinging and missing that,” Thomas said. “I threw a lot of ups and motions. I threw a change-up that I got one girl to look at.”
The Jaguars had their chances but left six runners on base. Scott County stranded five.
Kasey Kinsey led the Jaguars with two hits, and Vorbrink and Sam Dykes each had one.
“Leigh Ellen did her part,” Meiners said. “I always tell her, ‘We owe you three runs.’ She did exactly what she was supposed to do. That’s why she’s a Division I signee. We had multiple chances with the leadoff runner on. I’m very big on moving the runner.”
It was the third time the teams had met this season; the Cardinals won the first meeting but Mercy took the second in eight innings.
“The biggest thing we were missing is the lack of energy in the dugout,” Thomas said. “It was dead. Scott County is a good team. They were the ones that came out with more energy. We didn’t get beat by ability or talent. It was just we weren’t ready.”
Asked what his team needs to do to regroup, Meiners answered: “I’m hoping to see some senior leadership. We’re not just satisfied with being in the state tournament, we want to compete for the whole thing. We have talked about that a lot. We know we are playing good teams, but you have to play good teams to win. This game could have gone our way, but it didn’t and we had multiple chances. We just couldn’t execute.”
If the Jaguars want to make it into Saturday’s play for the fourth straight year, they’ll have to win four games Friday. To win the state title, they’ll have to win seven straight.
“We know we have a long night ahead of us,” Vorbrink said. “We have a lot of games, but we had the same thing last year. We have done it before. We are just going to have to take it one game at a time and keep fighting. We are going to have to keep our energy up like we are supposed to. It’s when we get tired that we start screwing up and end up making mistakes. We are going to have to keep the intensity and energy up the entire game.”