Clutch hitting and a strong pitching performance by Tracey Hicks paved the way for Harrison County’s 4-1 victory on Tuesday night against host Nicholas County in the 38th District Softball Tournament title game.
The district championship is Harrison County’s third in a row and sixth in the last nine years.
Harrison County fell behind 1-0 when Nicholas County strung together a triple and single in the top of the second inning, but wasted no time in its half of the inning to take control.
Charley Hatfield led off with a single, moved to second on a walk to Hicks and scored when Brittany Murphy’s fly ball was misplayed. With two outs, Ashley Coppage ripped a double over the center fielder’s head to drive in two runs and give Harrison County a 3-1 lead.
In the bottom of the third, Harrison County added an insurance run with a two-out rally. After Michelle Carson and Rachel Hatfield were retired on fly balls, Charley Hatfield coaxed a walk. Hicks delivered with a slicing line drive to right field that skipped past the right fielder and allowed Hatfield to score.
Harrison County managed just four hits in the game, one more than Nicholas County got off of Hicks.
The freshman right-hander went the distance and struck out nine batters without walking a hitter. She did hit one batter in the sixth inning.
“Tracey pitched a nice game,” said Christine Garnett, Harrison County’s coach.
The district title was Harrison County’s sixth tournament win of the season and assures them of drawing a runner-up in next week’s 10th Region Tournament at Montgomery County.
Perhaps as a sign of a program reaching another level, there was a noticeable lack of glee after the final out was recorded by the Fillies players and coaches.
“They’ve won six tournaments this year,” explained Garnett, without mentioning that bigger tournament wins to come may change their outlook.
The field is now set for the 10th Region Tournament, with some district winners yet to be determined.
Last night, district championship games were played in the 37th, 39th and 40th Districts, with all six of those teams joining Harrison County and Nicholas County in the regional tournament.
In the 37th, Scott and Bishop Brossart made the finals, with Bracken County and St. Patrick going at each other in the 38th and Montgomery and Clark representing the 40th.
“It’ll be interesting to see how the regional tournament plays out this year,” said Garnett. “I think it is wide open and we have as good a shot as anybody.”