Boyle softball returning to state for the fifth consecutive season

Published 6:50 am Friday, June 3, 2022

Friday is payday for Boyle County.

The Lady Rebels will collect their reward for surviving a regular-season gauntlet when they return to the state softball tournament for the fifth consecutive season.

They played 10 games against teams that finished the season ranked in the statewide coaches’ poll — including the team they’ll play Friday — as they steeled themselves for the postseason.

“I just think these kids are battle-tested. They have gone through a very difficult regular season, and this is their reward,” Boyle coach Brian Deem said.

No. 16 Boyle will play No. 11 Lexington Catholic in a first-round game at 6 p.m. Friday at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington.

The Lady Rebels won’t be favored — they were run-ruled by LexCath early in the season — but they won’t be intimidated, either.

They played a difficult schedule that included four weekend tournaments and 26 games against teams outside the 12th Region, and it was all to get ready for the regional and state tournaments.

“We’ve worked for this all year long,” Deem said.

Boyle County players celebrate with their trophy following Boyle’s 11-3 win over Southwestern in the 12th Region Tournament championship. Photo by Mike Marsee.

Boyle (26-9) lost six of its first 14 games and has its highest loss total in three seasons despite winning 18 of its last 21 games.

“We’ve taken our lumps, but … they never stopped believing and they never stopped competing and working in practice. They’re starting to see the rewards for it,” Deem said.

The Lady Rebels will get a second look at Lexington Catholic, which dealt them a 15-3, six-inning loss March 30 in a sectional game in the Kentucky 2A Championships.

LexCath (27-6) was one of the last teams to make the state tournament, beating No. 8 Lafayette 10-6 Wednesday to win its second 11th Region championship and its first since 1997.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us,” Deem said.

The Lady Knights are led by freshman Abby Hammond, who ranks fourth in the state in earned-run average (0.60) and is among the state leaders in home runs (12), slugging percentage (1.176). Hammond also leads her team in batting average (.531) and RBIs (41).

Both Hammond and Boyle pitcher Kayleigh White are among the state leaders in strikeouts. White (20-8, 2.45) averages 11.40 Ks per seven innings; Hammond (26-5) averages 10.48.

Boyle is batting .361 as a team and averaging 8.31 runs per game, led by White at .505 and Summer Ray at .486. The Lady Rebels are tied for second in the state in home runs with 46; Ray has 14 of those homers and White and Lauren Tipton have 10 each.

LexCath averages 7.64 runs and has a .342 team batting average with 24 home runs. Sara Prisinzano, one of the team’s five seniors, is hitting .389, and sophomore Ava Emmert is at .383.

Only the first round of the tournament will be played this weekend. The Boyle-LexCath winner will return to Lexington on June 10 for a quarterfinal against the winner of Friday’s game between No. 17 Lewis County, which eliminated Boyle in the quarterfinals a year ago, and No. 21 Harrison County.

The tournament field also includes No. 1 Ballard, No. 2 McCracken County, No. 3 South Warren, No. 5 Henderson County, No. 6 Daviess County, No. 10 Oldham County and No. 19 Elizabethtown.