By Conor Revell
OWENSBORO, Ky. — Mercy’s softball team knew it was going to have a long Friday at Jack C. Fisher Park if it wanted to hang around after losing a nine-inning heartbreaker to Scott County Thursday night.
The 10th-ranked Jaguars are still alive after defeating Madisonville-North Hopkins and Johnson Central in their first two games on the second day of the Worth KHSAA State Softball Tournament at Jack C. Fisher Park.
Mercy will play East Jessamine at 6 p.m. EDT Friday in another losers’ bracket game. If the Jaguars win, they will play again at 8 p.m. Follow @ConorRevell or @loucathsports on Twitter for updates.
Here’s what has happened so far Friday:
Mercy 3, Madisonville-North Hopkins 0
The second-ranked Lady Maroons blasted a record 63 home runs during the regular season but couldn’t touch Mercy ace Leigh Ellen Thomas.
“I’ve said it many times, but I would choose over Leigh Ellen over anybody right now,” Mercy head coach Greg Meiners said. “She is at the top of her game right now. She did everything last night she needed to do to win. We just didn’t score. Today we scored. Madisonville is a very good team — I know they’re a good team. It’s just unfortunate that somebody had to go home.”
Thomas pitched a complete-game one-hitter for Mercy while striking out seven and walking none.
“I was throwing outside a lot,” the senior left-hander said. “They were swinging and missing and the umpire was giving me the outside corner. I threw a lot of rise balls and drop balls. They were trying to hit the drop ball and hitting popups everywhere.”
Thomas gave herself a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Melissa Collins walked, took second base on a passed ball and scored on Thomas’ base hit to center field.
It was a tense one-run game until Sam Dykes singled home Lexi Ray and courtesy runner Riley McCormick to give Mercy two insurance runs in the sixth inning.
“I had to make an adjustment and open up my stance because she was throwing inside pitches,” Dykes said. “I needed to wait on it and I finally did. I knew that we needed those extra runs to give us some comfort with the run that we already had.”
Heather Webb started for the Lady Maroons (35-7) and gave up one run and three hits in 2 1/3 innings. Mallory Payton finished the game and surrendered two runs and three hits.
“It was great to see Sam get that hit,” Meiners said. “She has really felt the pressure as of late because she has been struggling and she’s a senior that wanted to do something big for her team. I was thrilled for her.”
Dykes and Thomas fueled Mercy with two hits apiece.
Mercy 7, Johnson Central 1
Only 20 minutes after beating Madisonville, Mercy (25-14) sent the Golden Eagles (27-12) home by scoring two runs in both the first and second innings and adding single runs in the third, fourth and sixth.
Ray gave Thomas a breather and pitched a complete game, allowing four hits while striking out four and walking none.
“I was throwing a lot of curveballs and change-ups,” the freshman said. “All my spins were working great, so I was having a good day.”
After struggling in the first game, Jordan Vorbrink scored three runs and had two hits and an RBI. Melissa Collins and Abby Wilder each added two hits and two RBIs.
“The pitcher was kind of slow, so we had to wait it,” Wilder said. “We had to execute our bunts — it really came down to us doing our jobs.”
Ray also had two hits and Kasey Kinsey, Jordyn Sanders and Amber Reed had one each as the Jaguars pelted out 11 hits.
Dykes and Thomas had an RBI apiece.
Johnson Central scored in the third inning when Lauren DeLong singled home Bailey Daniel.
“It’s important that Lexi threw a complete game,” Meiners said. “It was important to give Leigh a rest. We’ll have to see what we’re going to do for the rest of the day. We know we have to win a few more games, but I feel good that Lexi pitched that game.”
Micailyn Pierce started in the circle for Johnson Central and allowed six runs and eight hits in four innings. Macy Daniel pitched the remaining two innings and yielded one run and three hits.