With two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, senior Megan England ripped a double to the fence in center-field to drive in junior Abbey Gibson with the winning run as the Cougars defeated Owensboro Senior 3-2 in the opening round of the 3rd Region Tournament, being held at Apollo High School, in Owensboro.
Gibson, who was the designated player in the Cougar lineup, had led off the inning with a single to right field. After Lauren Decker laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Gibson to second base, Lady Devil pitcher Amber Strong struck out Grace White for the second out, bringing up England.
The senior center-fielder already had a pair of hits to her credit, including a first-inning triple. After working the count to 2-1, England got all of a Strong fastball and drove it out of the reach of Lady Devil center-fielder Kennedy Calhoun for the game-winning hit.
That made a winner of freshman hurler, Kara Decker, who had entered the game in relief of cousin Lauren Decker in the second inning. Kara Decker pitched the final six innings, allowing no runs on just one hit while striking out four.
Lauren Decker ran into trouble in the first, when the Lady Devils scored twice to take the early lead. Decker walked Calhoun to start the inning, and when Madeline Flaherty’s sacrifice bunt attempt went between first and the pitcher for a hit, Calhoun went to third and Flaherty made it safely to second on the play at third base.
Austin Black followed by hitting a grounder to Ashley Milliner at third, whose throw to Haley Tucker at home was in time to cut down Calhoun at the plate for the first out. Black went to second on the play at the plate, putting runners at second and third.
Shortstop Lexie Tutt sent a solid single to right to drive in two runs and put the Lady Devils up 2-0. Decker gave up one more hit, to Strong, but retired the next two batters to get out of the inning.
The Cougars got those runs back in their half of the first. England led off with a triple to the fence in right. With one out, Kara Decker walked on four pitches, bringing up third-baseman Ashley Milliner, who bunted to bring home England. When Strong overthrew the first-baseman, the ball went into right field, and Decker was able to score all the way from first base as Milliner moved into second.
Alana Mudd grounded out, moving Milliner to third, but Strong struck out Corbin Klineline to end the inning.
The score remained tied at 2-2 until the Cougars scored in the seventh to win it. The Lady Devils had just two base-runners over the final six innings. Flaherty singled leading off the third and was sacrificed to second, but Tutt lined out to Kaylan Shull at short, and Shull was able to get Flaherty at second for an inning-ending double play.
Strong reached on an error leading off the third inning, but Decker retired the next three batters to end that threat. Decker retired the last 12 batters she faced to keep the Lady Devils off the board.
Shull doubled leading off the third inning and moved to third on a wild pitch, but Strong got Kara Decker on a pop-up and Milliner on a ground-out to end that inning. Grayson County had runners at second with two outs in both the fifth and sixth innings, but Strong was able to shut down the potential rallies.
With the win, the Cougars improved to 22-12 on the season. Owensboro closed out its season at 9-18.