MURRAY - Ballard Memorial's Jade Babb ended the first day of the First Region softball tournament at Lady Laker Field in grand fashion with a two-out, two-run home run in the top of the seventh inning that lifted the Lady Bombers to an 8-6 victory Monday over Carlisle County and gave them entry into today's semifinal games.
Babb's two-run shot broke a 6-6 tie - and a school record for homers in a season - and then Rebekah Hogancamp and Ballard Memorial's defense shut down the three Lady Comets in the bottom of the seventh to seal it. The win improved Ballard Memorial, the First Region All A Classic champions, to 13-17.
"Thank goodness, because that was a good ball game," Ballard Memorial coach Terry Amis said. "They got on top of us. We came back and got on top of them and then they came back again. It was a see-saw deal. I kind of felt like they would be pretty tough today. Both teams battled and we made a few mistakes and so did they. But thank goodness Jade hit that, which broke the school record for home runs in a season, that was her fifth of the year. So we're tickled to death for her and the team."
But Ballard Memorial's reward for the win is a semifinal match up with top-ranked McCracken County, a 11-1 winner in six innings over Calloway County, at 7:30 tonight at Lady Laker Field.
The Lady Bombers and the Lady Mustangs are playing for the first time.
"We've got a mountain to climb," Amis said. "But we're going to come and play hard and see what happens. We've got nothing to lose. We're a very young team and we're going to come and play hard and see what happens."
McCracken County (33-5) finally took control of its game with the Lady Lakers with a five-run fifth inning that put it up 9-1. The Lady Mustangs were aided by Neely Quint's one-hit, six-strikeout performance and were pleased to be advancing.
"Neely threw well," McCracken County coach Tony Hayden said. "I was very happy with how she threw. This was the first game of the regional tournament and it's the one you have to win to keep on going. This takes a lot of pressure off of us. But hopefully (today) we won't make stupid errors that hurt us against Calloway County."
Marshall County got the day started with its 10-2 win over Paducah Tilghman. The Lady Marshals added to their 7-2 lead with three runs in the bottom of the sixth that made it the final.
Marshall County (20-15) will face Graves County (24-11) in the first semifinal at 5:30 p.m.
"Moving on is great," Lady Marshals coach Kara Hamby said. "I told the girls we have three steps and this was the first one. We've seen Graves a couple of times this year and feel like we have a good game plan."
Marshall County won the first meeting with the Lady Eagles at home 14-13 on March 21, but lost in Mayfield 9-8 on May 9.
Graves County earned its chance to play Marshall County thanks to a 2-1 victory over Hickman County that came down to Lady Eagles pitcher Casey Wade getting back-to-back swinging strikeouts - she had 10 strikeouts in the game - in the bottom of the seventh inning.
"We've gone head to head twice this year with Marshall County," Graves County coach Stan Waller said. "They got us by a run in the first game we played and then got them just a few weeks ago by a run. So it was two, one-run games and we know anything can happen against Marshall County. We just have to show up and get our bats going. We were a little off against Hickman County, because we haven't played since our district championship."
Marshall 10, Tilghman 2 (6 inn.) - Tilghman cut Marshall County's lead to 4-2 with two runs in the top of the fourth inning. But the Lady Marshals responded with three runs in the bottom of the fourth and added three more in the bottom of the sixth to stave of the Lady Blue Tornado charge.
Tilghman didn't help itself out by committing a two-run error in the bottom of the fourth and a one-run error in the bottom of the sixth.
"We didn't hit the ball and we kicked it around," Tilghman coach Carl Johnson said. "We told them before we got here that we had to hit the ball and play well with the glove and we didn't do either so we got beat."
Toni Ferenbacher got the win for Marshall County by holding PTHS to three hits, while striking out one.
Kayla Slagle took the loss for Tilghman and was relieved by Karlee Humphrey in the second.
Paducah Tilghman 000 200 2 3 5
Marshall County 310 303 10 10 0
PT: Slagle, Humphrey (2) and Humphrey and Driver (2); MC: Ferenbacher and Fiessinger.
WP: Ferenbacher. LP: Slagle
2B: MC - Miller, York. 3B: none. HR: none. Top hitters: PT - Moffat 1-3, run; Robertson 1-3, Morgan 1-3. MC - Miller 1-3, run, RBI; Texler 1-2, 2 runs; Fiessinger 1-2, 2 runs; Stearns 2-4, 2 RBIs; Murphy 1-3, 3 runs.
Graves 2, Hickman 1 - Graves County jumped out to a 2-0 lead over Hickman County with two runs in the bottom of the third.
The Lady Falcons came back and cut it to 2-1 with a run in the top of the fourth.
And Hickman County was poised for a chance to add some runs in the top of the seventh, but Graves County's Wade struck out the inning's first batter, allowed a base hit to Kayla Boaz and then sat the final two batters down swinging.
Wade recorded the win.
Hickman County's Sarah Harpole was saddled with the loss, where she struck out six and allowed five hits.
Hickman County 000 100 0 1 2 0
Graves County 002 000 x 2 5 0
HC: Harpole and Boaz.; GC: Wade and Adkins.
WP: Wade. LP: Harpole
2B: HC - Boaz. GC - Jackson. 3B: none. HR: none. Top hitters: HC - Boaz 2-3, RBI. GC - Jackson 1-3, run RBI; Watts 2-3, RBI; Clark 2-2.
McCracken 11, Calloway 1 (6 inn.) - The Lady Mustangs led 4-1 before they broke out with five runs in the bottom of the fifth and added two more in the bottom of the sixth to end the game.
The five runs in the bottom of the fifth were aided by a Hickman County two-run error and Kalli Harris' two-run home run.
"If we catch the ball and make the plays we're supposed to make then it's just a 2-1 or 3-1 ball game," Calloway County coach Troy Webb said. "But our kids were ready to go and we had no fear in our eyes."
The final two runs in the bottom of the sixth came courtesy of Kionna Waldon's two-run single.
Laken Kelso took the loss for Calloway County.
Calloway County 100 000 1 1 4
McCracken County 211 052 11 13 2
CC: L. Kelso and K. Kelso.; MC: Quint and R. Ridolfi
WP: Quint. LP: L. Kelso
2B: MC - Harris (2), Henson. 3B: none. HR: MC - Harris. Top hitters: CC - Scott 1-3. MC - Roof 2-4, 2 runs; Barnes 3-4 3 runs; Henson 2-3, run; Waldon 1-1, 2 RBIs; Harris 3-3, 2 runs, 2 RBIs.
Ballard 8, Carlisle 6 - Carlisle County got back into it with two runs in the bottom of the sixth that tied the game at 6-all on Maddie Martin's RBI single and Devin Rudd's run-scoring ground out to short.
And things looked good for the Lady Comets when they got the first two outs in the top of the seventh on a pop out to short and a ground ball.
But Ballard Memorial's Leah Shelley belted a single to right and then Babb, a senior, brought her home with a two-run homer to left.
Hogamcamp picked up the win for the Lady Bombers and recorded three strikeouts.
Christina O'Daniel was charged with the loss for the Lady Comets and she had two strikeouts.
Ballard Memorial 000 303 2 8 9 2
Carlisle County 100 032 0 6 x x
BM: Hogancamp and Newton; CC: C. O'Daniel and Martin.
WP: Hogancamp. LP: O'Daniel
2B: BM - Hogancamp, Shelley. 3B: none. HR: BM - Babb. Top hitters: BM - Hogancamp 1-3, run; Shelley 2-4, 2 runs, 2 RBIs; Babb 2-4, 3 runs, 2 RBIs; Newtwon 2-4, run, RBI.