The McCracken County softball team will continue a legacy that head coach Tony Hayden started quite a bit ago as a Reidland Greyhound.
With a record of 30-6, the Lady Mustangs will face Louisville Butler to stay alive and chase the state championship title with an abundance of talent on the field and experienced coaching in the dugout.
The Lady Mustangs have chased the state title since winning it all in 2015 against Male in a 2-1 victory.
This season, McCracken County has placed in the KHSAA’s Top 25 in six categories. In 36 games and 994 at-bats, the Lady ’Stangs are ranking No. 6 in home runs (38), No. 8 in triples (21), No. 15 in RBIs (273), No. 17 in hits (375) and No. 24 in team runs leaders.
Per KHSAA, junior Zoe Smithson is No. 18 in the state with 17 doubles in 36 games and 100 at-bats. Smithson has been a vital piece of the Lady Mustang puzzle this season, leading her team in runs batted in with 38.
Sophomore Ally Hutchins has been a stud in the pitching circle and offensively this season for McCracken County. Hutchins is No. 17 in the KHSAA’s Top 25 with a 1.48 ERA in 661/3 innings pitched.
In the circle, Hutchins has two saves and leads McCracken hurlers with 73 strikeouts in 13 games. During the First Region championship, she struck out six Calloway County Lady Lakers and allowed only two hits.
Offensively, Hutchins leads the Lady Mustangs with 11 home runs and 16 walks on the season. She has a .333 average in 111 at-bats.
Along with Hutchins, Hayden and the McCracken County squad will rely on the arms of Annie White and Abigayle Duren to continue their postseason magic.
White, a sophomore, boasts a 2.42 ERA with eight wins and 38 strikeouts this season, working 52 innings in the circle. The recently graduated Duren has 55 strikeouts and a 2.59 ERA in 94 2/3 innings of work, leading her team with 13 wins.
Karleigh Grace Walker, Ashby Murt and Ariel Fox’s ability to dominate pitching will play a significant factor against Butler on Saturday.
Walker, a freshman, leads her team with a .505 batting average and 53 hits on the season. As of late, she has seen the ball well, collecting hits and walks in postseason play.
Recent graduate Murt heads into state tournament play with a .422 batting average, 35 hits and 27 RBIs in 83 at-bats. She went 3-for-4 in the First Region championship against Calloway County on Monday night.
Fox, currently tied with Hutchins with four triples, has 46 hits and 36 RBIs in 115 at-bats for a .400 batting average. The junior went 2-for-2 against Carlisle County in the 11-1 regional game last Saturday.
Another factor in continuing the season will be Ellie Shoulders flying around the base paths. The freshman leads her team with 26 stolen bases in 28 attempts.
The Lady Mustangs will play Butler at 2 p.m. at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington. The Bearettes are 30-4 and finished on top of the Sixth Region.
Per KHSAA RPI Standings, McCracken County comes in at No. 3, and Butler is right behind at No. 4.