By LINDSEY WOOD
The Estill County High School softball team finished their season in the state tournament, with a 9-0 loss to Boyle County followed by a final 6-0 loss to eighth-ranked Apollo. The Lady Engineers finished their season 20-14, with one loss in region play, and a perfect record within the district.
After last year’s surprise defeat in the first round of the regional tournament, Estill returned to Owensboro as champions of the 14th region. No one was more thrilled to be back at the state tournament than head coach Shirley Beard. In their final huddle, Coach Beard thanked and congratulated her team for getting themselves back on the state tournament stage.
In their first game, the Lady Engineers faced off against Boyle County with their former teammate, Kelly Lay, on the mound for the Rebels. Despite this added pressure, it looked like the Engineers were ready to score some runs on Lay. Wood started the game off with a base hit in the six-hole. Kaylee Covey and Sarah Wiseman got her over to third on a sacrifice bunt and a hard grounder to the Boyle second baseman, respectively; unfortunately, the Engineers couldn’t drive in the run with two outs.
Kaylee Covey held the Rebels at bay for two innings, but they eventually caught up with her, scoring a couple runs each inning in the third through the sixth. A small strike zone forced Covey to throw it down the pipe, and the Boyle County lineup is always ready for a fastball in their zone.
The Engineers had just five hits in their appearance against Boyle County, two belonging to Wiseman. Wood, Riddell, and Duechle made up the others. This lack of offensive momentum ultimately kept Estill from staying in the game.
The next day, Estill faced a tough Apollo team and had more trouble at the plate but kept the game competitive with great defense and pitching. Covey had four strikeouts, and the Engineer defense made several heads-up plays.
On the other side of the ball, Wood got the Engineers’ only hit of the game, but several other players drew walks, namely Covey, Mia Hale, and Kaylee Riddell; senior Lindsey Isfort was hit by a pitch.
Despite the dis-appointment of this loss, Estill showed a lot of grit and optimism this game. They even sang the fight song in the dugout when taking a KHSAA-mandated “heat break” when the score was close. The final score certainly does not represent the competitiveness of the game.
Next year, the Engineers will face a bit of uncertainty without their star pitcher, but there are several young pitchers coming up who are eager for the chance to show what they’ve got. Odds are, the Engineers will be back at Owensboro next year.