After finishing second in 2009 and â€˜10, the Jaguars rolled through the Rawlings/KHSAA state tournament at Jack C. Fisher Park in Owensboroâ€”outscoring opponents 40-6â€”and downed Lone Oak 7-2 in the championship game to claim their first-ever fastpitch state title.
â€œIâ€™m on cloud nine,â€ said Mercy coach Josh Bloomer, who has led the Jaguars to five state tournament appearances in eight years. â€œThe biggest joy is that our girls were finally able to leave there with smiles on their faces.â€
Mercy (37-8) wasted no time in the final, putting up four runs on five hits in the bottom of the first inning. From there, senior starter JJ Francis held the Purple Flash at bay, allowing only two runs on four hits in five innings with two strikeouts and a pair of walks.
â€œI actually felt more confident than I have in past years,â€ said Francis, who was a member of both runner-up teams. â€œWe knew that if we were to tighten upâ€¦we would lose. We just wanted to stay loose and relaxed.â€
After Lone Oak put up a pair of runs in the top of the sixth, Mercy answered with three more insurance runs in the bottom of the inning to put the game out of reach.
â€œWe became a family early (in the season),â€ said Morgan Meyer, who batted .714 and stole six bases during the tournament. â€œI couldnâ€™t ask for a better team or a better coach.â€
Meyer earned co-MVP honors along with freshman Jordan Vorbrink, who batted .529 with 12 RBI and 7 runs.
To reach the final of the double-elimination tournament, Mercy first beat Bullitt East last Thursday, then Greenwood and Lone Oak on Friday. An 8-0 win over Boyle County on Saturday morning advanced the Jaguars out of the winnersâ€™ bracket and into the final against Lone Oak (40-6), the winner of the losersâ€™ bracket.
It was the first crown for a Louisville-area team since Manual won in 2000, and Bloomer said it was a fitting end to a special season:
â€œI told them you donâ€™t always get what you deserve in lifeâ€¦but sometimes you do.â€
Junior Logan Parrett (9-1) tossed a two-hitter, and Woodford County (34-6) blanked Henderson County (29-14-1) 4-0 on June 9 to win the Kentucky National Insurance/KHSAA state baseball tournament at Whitaker Bank Ballpark in Lexington. It was the Yellowjacketsâ€™ first title.
St. Xavier (30-12), the highest-ranked team in the field at No. 3, beat Mercer County 4-0 in the opening round, but fell to Bishop Brossart 5-3 in the quarterfinals.
Pleasure Ridge Parkâ€™s bid for a fifth state title ended abruptly as the Panthers (29-12) were bounced by Newport Central Catholic 3-2 in the first round.
Kentucky-Indiana All-Star Classic
Manualâ€™s LeAsia Wright led all scorers with a two-game total of 27, and the Kentucky girlsâ€™ team swept Indiana for only the second time since 1991. Game One at Freedom Hall saw Kentucky struggle from the field early before mounting a 39-27 halftime lead and cruising to a 75-47 victory.
Wright had 12 points and Sydney Moss, Kentuckyâ€™s Miss Basketball, tossed in 14 and grabbed 11 rebounds.
In Game Two at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, the Kentucky squad raced out to a 52-36 halftime lead and never looked back, winning 92-75. Wright had 15 points, including four 3-pointers, and Bre Elder of Marion County added 13 points.
Indiana still leads the series at 40-34.
Try as they might, the Kentucky boys could not shake free from the history of Indiana dominance and were swept for the seventh time in eight years.
Trinityâ€™s Nathan Dieudonne, Kentuckyâ€™s Mr. Basketball, led all scorers in Game One with 24, but the talent-rich Indiana team rallied late to eke out a 90-85 win.
In Game Two, Kentucky led 41-40 at halftime before a 30-5 Indiana run in the second half sank their chances and gave the Hoosiers an 83-73 victory. Woodford Countyâ€™s Jay Johnson led Kentucky with 16 points, followed by Jeril Taylor of PRP with 12 and Dieudonne with 11.
- After building Easternâ€™s baseball program into one of the areaâ€™s best over the last 11 years, Eagles coach John Morris is stepping down to spend more time with his family. Six district championships and regional runner-up finishes in 2005 and 2011 highlighted his tenure. Under Morris, Eastern has enjoyed eight consecutive 30-win seasons. The 2012 team went 32-8, falling to Male 8-0 in the Seventh Region semifinals.
- David Henley has been named the new boysâ€™ basketball coach at Eastern. Henley spent the last two seasons at North Oldham, where he went 34-28. Before that Henley spent 13 seasons at Holmes, winning four regional titles and the 2009 state championship. He replaces Jason Couch, who departed for Shelby County last month.
- Fired as DeSalesâ€™ football coach in February, Mark Sander didnâ€™t need to look far for a new gig. The former University of Louisville linebacker has been named head coach at Iroquois High School, less than a mile away. Sander, who played for the Cards from 1987-90 and is the schoolâ€™s all-time leading tackler, went 76-47 in 10 seasons at DeSales. He replaces Anthony Waters, whose Raider teams had a combined record of 1-27 over the last three years.
- Christian Academyâ€™s Allison Foster has been named Gatorade Kentucky Softball Player of the Year. Foster, a senior pitcher-outfielder, batted .500 with 10 home runs, 39 runs and 31 RBI. Her 46 career triples is a state record. The Bellarmine University signee also went 24-6 in the circle with a 0.80 ERA and 302 strikeouts in 176 innings pitched.
Contact columnist Chris Cahill at email@example.com.