The Cougar softball team ended its regular season Thursday with a 4-0 shutout win at Breckinridge County to finish with a 14-13 record.
The Cougars got superb pitching from both Lauren and Kara Decker, the right-handed cousins who have plied the circle for the Cougars throughout the season. Lauren pitched the first four innings and earned the win. She allowed just two hits, one of them of the infield variety, walked no one and struck five Lady Tiger batters.
Kara pitched the final three innings and allowed no runs on just one hit, a bunt single in the sixth inning. She walked no one and struck out six.
At the plate, the Cougars had nine hits on the day against Breck starter and loser Kaitlyn Butler. Kara Decker had a pair of singles, drove in one run and scored another. First-baseman Nikki Golden also had two hits and she drove in two runs.
The Cougars threatened to score against Butler in the second inning when they put runners at first and second with just one out. Butler struck out Bailey Sedam, but Allie Horton ripped a ball to straight-away center-field that looked as though it would fly over the head of center-fielder Riley Collins. But Collins went back and made a leaping catch on the ball to end the inning.
The Cougars would score all the runs they needed in the third inning after two were out. Katie Imbrescia popped out to right leading off and Haley Tucker lined back to Butler for the second out.
That brought up Cougar catcher Bailey Snyder who hit a sharp ground ball to Brandi Logan, at third base. Logan fielded the ball cleanly, but her throw was low and it went down the line in right, allowing Snyder to reach second base on the error.
Lauren Decker singled through the hole at short, sending Snyder to third, leaving runners at the corners. Kara Decker followed with a line drive back through the middle that Butler got a glove on, but could not stop. Snyder scored and the Cougars had runners at first and second following the infield hit.
Embry Thorpe followed with a ground ball to the left side that found its way to left field to load the bases for the Cougars. Golden then singled into left-center to drive in both Deckers and the Cougars led 3-0. Sedam walked to load the bases again. Butler got Horton to ground out to end the inning, but the Cougars had all they would need.
With two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning, Breck catcher Bailey Caster reached on a Cougar error. Left-fielder Kirsten Pike followed by hitting a little pop-up about 10 feet down the line toward third. The ball fell safely and Lauren Decker’s throw to her Cousin Kara covering first was late.
Caster continued running past second and Decker’s throw to third was also late. On the play, Pike reached second base, giving the Lady Tigers a threat with runners at second and third.
But Lauren Decker got Butler to hit a little come-backer and she threw out the Breck pitcher for the final out of the inning.
That would be Breck’s only threat the rest of the way. Kara Decker relieved in the fifth inning and struck out the side. Breck had base runners in the sixth and seventh, but neither got past first base.
Grayson County added an insurance run in the sixth inning. With one out Horton lined a ball up the middle that once again Butler got a glove to but could not stop. Horton was safe at first with the infield single.
Imbrescia followed with a line-drive single to right that sent Horton to third. When the throw from the outfield got away, Imbrescia moved into second base.
Tucker hit a little tapper back to Butler, and when the only play was at first base, Horton scored to make it 4-0. Imbrescia moved to third on the put-out, but she was stranded there when Snyder grounded out to end the inning.
The Cougars will now move into post-season play. On Tuesday at Whitesville, they will play Butler County at 5:30 p.m. in the first round of the 12th District Tournament. Grayson County split with the Bears, winning 9-6 at home on April 12, then losing 8-7 in Morgantown on April 15.
The winner of that game will play the winner of the other first-round game between Edmonson County and Whitesville Trinity on Thursday at 6 p.m. for the 12th District Championship.
Reach Don Brown at 259-9622, ext. 2016.