The Central Hardin Bruins got a pair of home runs from their shortstop, Kelsey McGuffin, on Monday that offset one by Grayson County’s Kaylan Shull as the Bruins beat the Cougars 5-3 in Cecilia.
Central Hardin came in ranked third in the state behind number one McCracken County and Greenwood. Their win on Monday improved their overall record to 29-2 and pushed their win streak to 23 straight games, which included a win over McCracken County in the Greenwood Border Battle a few weeks back.
Cougar freshman hurler Kara Decker absorbed the loss as she allowed five earned runs on six hits. She walked one and struck out five on the day.
April Pence started for the Bruins and pitched three innings, giving up just just one hit, a third-inning single by DP Abbey Gibson. Jessica Nall took over in the fourth and after striking out six straight Cougar batters in the fourth and fifth innings, gave up the three Cougar runs in the sixth.
The Bruins went on top 2-0 in the first inning. After Decker retired leadoff hitter Mariah Bryant, she walked third-baseman Aubree Muse, who then stole second base. With the count at 1-1, McGuffin sent a ball out of the park in right-center field to put the Bruins on top 2-0.
Decker righted herself by retiring eight of the next nine batters she faced. The only base-runner she allowed came on a third-inning error by Shull. She gave up a fourth inning single to first-baseman Shelby Maggard, but then retired six straight until running into deep trouble in the sixth inning.
The Cougars had only the one hit through the first five innings, but got to Nall in the sixth. Gibson led off with a walk and went to second on a one-out, infield single by Megan England.
That brought up Shull, who worked the count to 1-1 before getting all of the next pitch and sending it over the wall in left-center field. The three-run blast put the Cougars on top 3-2.
Decker followed with a single to left, but Nall struck out Ashley Milliner, and with Alana Mudd at the plate, Decker was called out for leaving too soon at first.
Needing to shut the Bruins down in the bottom of the sixth, Decker gave up a leadoff hit to Muse, a looper that fell in in short center-field. That brought up McGuffin, who wasted no time sending the first pitch high and far, over the wall in left-center to put the Bruins back in front 4-3.
Maggard singled to left and was sacrificed to second by Pence. Maggard moved to third on a single up the middle by Amber Hiller, then scored when Decker’s throw home following a Nall bunt was late.
The Bruins later loaded the bases with one out, but Decker got pinch-hitter Brooklyn Bryant to ground into a force play at home, then got Mariah Bryant to pop out.
With the Cougars needing a rally in the top of the seventh, leadoff hitter Alana Mudd hit a solid line drive, but it was caught in center for the first out.
The Cougars caught a break when Corbin Klineline’s hard-hit ground ball took a wicked hop and went for an infield single, but Nall got Lauren Decker to pop out, then struck out Gibson to end the game.
With the loss, Grayson County fell to 18-11 on the season.
The pairings have been announced for next week’s 12th District Softball Tournament, which will be held at Edmonson County High School, in Brownsville.
The host-team LadyCats, the number-one seed, will play number-four seed Whitesville Trinity in the first game on Monday, May 19, at 5:30 p.m.
The second-seeded Cougars will then face third-seeded Butler County at 7:15 p.m. The Cougars beat the Bears twice during the regular season, but will have their hands full trying for that third win.