OWENSBORO - The Livingston Lady Cardinals left little doubt that they were the best small school softball team in Kentucky after winning the All A Classic Softball Tournament for the first time in school history with a 10-0 shutout of Holy Cross in five innings Sunday at Jack C. Fisher Park.
And just how dominant were the Lady Cardinals? In six games played over two days, Livingston Central (22-6) was scored upon just once, outscored its opponents 67-1 and never played a full seven innings.
The Lady Cardinals started the day with quarterfinal and semifinal victories, beating the First Region's Ballard Memorial 11-0 in six innings and 15th Region's Pikeville 18-1 in five innings.
"We talked about it from the start of the year that we wanted to be at the top of our game for the Class A state tournament," Livingston Central coach Stan Head said. "We didn't play very well early and we've had some holes to fill and it took a little while. But as you can see right now, we're on top of our game and we came out and played well this weekend."
Five from Livingston Central were named to the all-tournament team: MVP Caitlin Merritt, Hailee Lampley, Hannah Leidecker, Tiffany Padon and Ashley Wright.
"I was super surprised I won the MVP," Merritt said. "I've tried my hardest to win it the last three years and it finally paid off. I was so shocked that I had my mouth covered the whole time."
Tiffany Padon earned the win for the 17th-ranked Lady Cardinals (in the Kentucky Softball Coaches Association weekly poll) in beating 11th-ranked Holy Cross.
Padon surrendered four hits, struck out four and walked none. She faced three over the minimum in the five innings.
"Most people weren't expecting me to start" said Padon, who tossed a no-hitter in the state quarterfinal 10-0 win over Ballard Memorial in the first game of the day Sunday. "We had to have Bug (Merritt) in the outfield for defense. The defense really worked for me today and helped me win the game. After we got up in the first couple of innings, momentum got on our side, we kept our heads up and kept hitting it"
The Lady Cardinals scored one in the bottom of the first, jumped on Holy Cross with six in the bottom of the third and three more in the bottom of the fourth.
"This is so surreal, because it seems like we were just freshmen coming up here for the first time," Leidecker said. "Now we're here and we've won it. It's so exciting."
Against Ballard Memorial, Livingston Central hit five home runs - Leidecker with two, Merritt, Lampley and Wright, who hit a three-run walk-off homer to end it - and Padon allowed no hits, had two strikeouts and faced two over the minimum.
The Lady Cardinals jumped out to an 8-0 lead after two innings in the victory over Pikeville and then tacked on four in the top of the third and six in the top of the fifth.
Merritt held Pikeville to two hits and struck out six.
All A Quarterfinals
Livingston Central 11,
Ballard Memorial 0 (6 inn)
Ballard Memorial 000 000 0 0 2
Livingston Central 313 004 11 13 2
BM: Hogancamp and Newton; LC: Tiffany Padon and Lampley
WP: Padon. LP: Hogancamp
2B: Tiffany Padon. 3B: none. HR: Merritt, Leidecker (2), Lampley, Wright. Top hitters: LC - Merritt 2-3, 3 RBI, 2 runs; Leidecker 2-3, 3 RBI, 3 runs; Lampley 2-3, RBI, 2 runs; Tiffany Padon 2-4.
All A Semifinals
Livingston Central 18, Pikeville 1 (5 inn)
Pikeville 000 10 1 2 6
Livingston Central 354 06x 11 13 2
P: Cochran and McNamee; LC: Merritt and Lampley
WP: Merritt. LP: Cochran
2B: LC - Lampley, Padon, Dalton. 3B: P - Conn. HR: Merritt. Top hitters: LC - Merritt 3-4, 3 RBI, 3 runs; Lampley 1-2, RBI, run; Tiffany Padon 1-2, 2 RBI, 3 runs; Wright 1-2, RBI, 3 runs; Head 2-2, 3 RBI; Tabby Padon 3-3, 1 RBI, runs.
All A Championship Game
Livingston Central 10,
Louisville Holy Cross 0 (5 inn)
Lou. Holy Cross 000 000 0 4 2
Livingston Central 163 000 10 10 0
HC: Gailor, Just (4) and Miller; LC: Tiffany Padon and Lampley
WP: Padon. LP: Miller
2B: Wright, Head Dean. 3B: none. HR: none Top hitters: LC - Merritt 1-4, run; Leidecker 2-2, 2 runs; Lampley 2-2, 2 RBI, 2 runs; Tiffany Padon 1-3, RBI, run; Head 2-3, 2 RBI, 2 runs.
Call James D. Horne, a Sun sports writer, at 270-575-8661 or follow on Twitter @psunsports.