Making a difficult task look easy, the Cougar softball team beat the Butler County Bears for the third time in the season, 10-3 in the opening round of the 12th District Tournament, held Monday evening at Edmonson County High School.
After Cougar starting pitcher Lauren Decker gave up three runs on four hits in the first two innings, head coach Jordan Clemons brought in Kara Decker in relief in the third inning and the freshman hurler shut down the Bears the rest of the way. In her five innings in the circle, Decker allowed no runs on four hits, walked one and struck out four.
Kara Decker also had a big night at the plate, going 3-for-4, including a double, with two runs driven in and two runs scored. Ashley Milliner also drove in two runs with a ground-out and a sixth-inning single, and Alana Mudd drove in a pair with two singles.
The Bears scored twice off Lauren Decker in the top of the first on a walk, a single, and a two-out double by second-baseman Natoshia White.
The Cougars answered back with two runs of their own in the bottom of the inning. Megan England led off with a single, but was forced at second by Kaylan Shull. Kara Decker followed with a single which moved Shull to third. After Decker stole second, Milliner grounded out for the second out of the inning, but Shull scored and Decker moved to third.
Mudd followed with a sharp single into left to plate Decker and tie the game at 2-2. Haley Brooks followed with an infield single, but Corbin Klineline grounded out to end the inning.
The Bears scored one more in the second to take a 3-2 lead. Hannah Peach led off with a single and was sacrificed to second by Abigail Fry. Peach went to third on a ground out by Maddie McKinney, then scored on an infield single by Madison Clark.
Grayson County took the lead for good with four runs in the bottom of the second. With one out, Grace White walked, then went to third on a double into right by England. Shull hit a grounder to short, and when the throw was low at first, White scored and the Cougars had runners at second and third.
Kara Decker followed by roping a double to the wall in left-center to score England and Shull, then she scored on another Bear error to make it 6-3.
The Cougars added another unearned run in the fourth to make it 7-3. Shull and Kara Decker had back-to-back, one-out singles. After Milliner popped up for the second out, Mudd reached first on a Bear error as Shull crossed the plate.
The Cougars added three insurance runs in the sixth inning. England singled leading off and was forced at second on a Shull grounder. After Kara Decker walked, she was replaced on the bases by Maddie Duvall. Milliner singled to right to plate Shull and leave runners at the corners.
Milliner moved to second on a wild pitch before Mudd beat out an infield hit, driving in Duvall and sending Milliner to third. Brooks then had an infield hit to drive in Milliner and the Cougars led 10-3.
In the seventh, Decker gave up a leadoff single to Madison Clark, but retired the next three Bear batters to end the game.
The Cougars were scheduled to play Edmonson County in Tuesday’s championship game. The LadyCats edged Whitesville Trinity 1-0 in Monday’s first game.