The Cougar softball team has gotten off to a quick start, winning four of its first five games, including three straight wins this past weekend.
On Friday, the Cougars decimated Breckinridge County 15-0 in four innings, before picking up a quality win on Saturday, 5-3 over the visiting Scotties of Glasgow.
On Monday, the Cougars traveled to Hancock County, where they scored twice in the top of the ninth inning, then hung on to take a 5-4 victory.
Junior pitcher Lauren Decker was in charge of this game from the start, holding the Tigers in check while her teammates took care of business at the plate.
Decker allowed just one hit in her four innings of work, a second inning single by Tiger shortstop Tori Lucas. She struck out six Tigers and walked no one.
The Cougars scored the only run they would need in the first inning after two were out. Junior Kara Decker, playing shortstop in place of senior Haley Tucker who is out indefinitely with a broken thumb, got hold of a 1-1 pitch from Tiger hurler Katie Butler and drove it over the fence in right field to make it 1-0.
Grayson County put the game out of reach in the third inning when they sent 14 batters to the plate and scored nine runs. Sophomore first-baseman Taylor Mudd led off with a double down the line in left, then scored when Lauren Decker doubled to right.
Catcher Bailey Snyder beat out an infield single to put runners at first and second and both runners scored when Kara Decker doubled into the corner in right. Second-baseman Madeline Carter followed with a single to right that plated Decker and made it 5-0.
Jodi Decker and Abbie Harpe followed with singles that loaded the bases for center-fielder Bailey Sedam, who singled to left to bring in two more runs and leave runners at second and third.
At that point the Cougars had amassed eight straight hits and scored six times. Butler was replaced in the circle by Lucas, who retired Katie Imbrescia for the first out, breaking the Cougars’ hit skein.
But Mudd followed with her second hit of the inning, a single up the middle that plated Harpe to make it 8-0. One out later, Snyder drove in two more runs with a single to left and the Cougars led 10-0.
The Cougars ended the game by the mercy rule in the fourth inning when they scored five more runs. A game is ended if a team is ahead by 15 runs after three innings of play.
Jodi Decker led off with a double, then scored on a single by Harpe. Sedam singled to left, then moved to second on the throw trying to get Harpe at third. One out later, Mudd’s grounder to short was thrown away at first for an error, allowing Harpe to score from third and leave runners at first and third.
Lauren Decker then ended the game when she picked on a 1-1 pitch from Lucas and drove it out of the park in center field.
The Cougars played exceptionally well in this game against a formidable opponent. They got flawless infield play throughout the game and came through with some timely hitting when they needed it most.
Grayson County also got solid pitching from cousins Lauren and Kara Decker. Lauren went six innings, giving up three runs, one of them unearned, on six hits. She walked one and struck out one.
Kara came on in the seventh and pitched the final three innings to earn the win. She gave up one run on three hits and struck out one.
The Hornets got on the board first with an unearned run in the bottom of the second inning. With one out, Hornet pitcher Claire Westerfield singled to right-center and was replaced on the bases by Hailey Stewart. Catcher Natalie Fruge grounded out to third for the second out, but Stewart advanced to second base.
Left-fielder Emma Robinson then lofted a fly ball into left-center that should have been the final out of the inning, but the ball glanced off the glove of Sedam for an error as Stewart came home to make it 1-0. Decker ended the inning without further damage by getting Melissa Jackson on a come-backer.
The Cougars tied it with a run in the fourth inning. Kara Decker singled to right leading off the inning. Carter laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Decker to second. Decker never stopped and raced to third and when first-baseman Kelsie Brown’s throw was wild, Decker scored on the error to tie things at a run apiece.
Grayson County took the lead with two more runs in the fifth inning. Allie Horton, who had replaced Sedam in center-field, laid down a perfect bunt leading off the inning and beat it out for a hit. Two outs later, Kara Decker singled to right, moving Horton to third base.
Carter followed by grounding to Paige Taylor at third for what should have been the final out of the inning. But Taylor’s throw was low at first and Carter was safe as Horton scored to make it 2-1. Jodi Decker followed with a single to center to bring in Kara from second to make it 3-1.
The score stayed that way until the bottom of the sixth when the Hornets tied it once more. Shortstop Ashley Orr singled leading off, her third hit of the game, and was replaced on the bases by Stewart. Mackenzie Roberts grounded a ball to Cougar third-baseman Embry Thorpe who made the throw to second to get a force on Stewart for the first out.
Roberts then stole second before back-to-back singles by Brown and Taylor drove in the runs that tied the game 3-3.
The Cougars put a runner in scoring position in the seventh, but could not score. They then put two runners on in the eighth with just one out, but again could not score. Likewise, the Hornets put runners in scoring position in both the seventh and eighth innings, but could not get a run in.
But the Cougars got the deciding runs in the top of the ninth. Snyder led off the inning with a ringing double that banged off the wall in left-center before Kara Decker walked on four straight pitches. Carter followed with a sacrifice to moved the runners to second and third.
The Hornet pitcher, Westerfield, had been wild the whole game, walking 10 Cougar batters in her nine innings of work and throwing four wild pitches in the first eight innings. With Jodi Decker at the plate and just one out, she uncorked another wild pitch and Snyder was able to come home to put the Cougars up 4-3. Kara was able to move to third on the play.
Westerfield struck out Jodi Decker for the second out, but walked Thorpe, putting runners at the corners. Taylor Mudd followed and after getting behind 0-2 came up with the biggest hit of the game, a solid single to left that plated Kara Decker with what turned out to be the winning run.
It was not easy, though, as the Hornets battled back after two were out in their half of the ninth. Kara struck out Westerfield leading off, then got Fruge on a line drive to Katie Imbrescia in left.
Decker just missed getting Robinson for the final out when she dove for a dribbler back to the circle, but could not field it cleanly and Robinson legged it out for a hit. Jackson followed by crushing a ball to the fence in left-center that plated Robinson and made it a one-run game, 5-4.
But Sydney Schaad swung at Decker’s first pitch and hit a little pop-up to Thorpe at third for the final out of the game.
The Cougars (4-1) were scheduled to play Central Hardin (1-4) on Tuesday. Be sure to check out Saturday’s edition of the News-Gazette for the account of that game.
Reach Don Brown at 259-9622, ext. 2016.