May 5th, 2011
Jags Struggle In 5-3 Loss At Fern Creek
Mercy outhits Tigers, but suffers rare Jefferson Co. defeat
As defending state runner-up and perrenial 7th Region favorite, the Mercy Academy softball team constantly wears a bullseye and takes the best shots of opposing teams every game out, especially from fellow schools within Jefferson County.
Wednesday evening, Fern Creek High School took its shot, caught the Jaguars on an off night, and defeated Mercy 5-3 on the Tigers' home field. The loss was only the second for Mercy in its past 12 games.
It was Fern Creek's first win over the Jags during Mercy Head Coach Josh Bloomer's seven years in the dugout. Fern Creek is also just the 7th Louisville team to beat the Jaguars since 2006. The previous six were Male, DuPont Manual, Ballard, Butler, Seneca, and Assumption.
"Give credit to Fern Creek. They did what they had to do to win the game," said Bloomer. "Rick (Dotson's) done a really good job of getting (Fern Creek) to compete, and in a couple years that's a district game for us. That's a big win for their program. They've been chomping at the bit and right there with some good teams, and needed a good win to build on, and they got it."
Katie Hansgen drove in three runs and Hannah Fife had two hits for the Tigers in the win. Fern Creek's 1 through 3 hitters (Olivia Higgins, Fife, and Erin Cox) went a combined 4-for-10 with three runs scored, two walks, and one RBI.
Mercy, which fell victim to four errors in the field and several baserunning miscues, allowed four Tiger runs in the third inning and lost the game despite outhitting Fern Creek 9-5.
Jaguars junior starting pitcher JJ Francis struggled early after giving up three straight hits to start the game and fell behind 1-0 after a RBI groundout by Hansgen.
Francis, who was replaced by sophomore Hayley Twyman after two innings, eventually returned to the game, struck out five batters and walked one in 5 1/3 total innings pitched.
"I wasn't really pleased with (Francis') focus early in the game and didn't think she had much presence out there on the mound," said Bloomer. "But we need more than one pitcher to pitch for us if we want to win."
Mercy actually bounced back after a shaky first inning and took a 2-1 lead on base hits from seniors Kelsey Wood and Katie Kissel and runs scored by sophomore courtesy runner Randi Hawksley and senior Amanda Schumacher.
But in the third, Fern Creek batted around including a two-RBI double by Hansgen that reclaimed the lead for the Tigers at 3-2, and then two straight four-pitch walks with the bases loaded that gave Fern Creek a 5-2 lead. The Lady Tigers only had two hits during the four-run half inning, which was due to largely in part to two, big Mercy errors that opened the door for a big offensive output.
"I was really disappointed in our upper classmen and the performance that they had," said Bloomer. "But the kids are going to be the ones to decide what we're going to do with this (loss). We're either going to build on it and get better, or go on like this, be happy just to get to (the regional tournament), and be done early. That's up to them."
Mercy cut the Tigers' lead to 5-3 in the top of the fifth inning on a RBI single from freshman Tori Lasley that brought Kissel around to score, but that would be as close as Bloomer and Co. would get.
The Jaguars were led offensively by Wood, Kissel, and Lasley, who each chipped in two hits a piece. Senior Tiffany Cozzens drove in two runs in the losing effort.
Mercy was playing without sophomore spark plug Morgan Meyer, who has emerged as a key threat at the plate for the Jags. Meyer was out of the game due to illness and the timetable regarding her return is unknown.
"I didn't think Morgan not being in the lineup today was going to be that big, but it was," said Bloomer. "She leads us in hitting, and stolen bases, and runs scored. You've got to be more than one kid, but it was evident that a lot of things changed for us offensively with her out of the lineup."
The Jaguars still sport a 15-7 record despite Wednesday's loss at Fern Creek, but must recover quickly before heading west this weekend for the Sports Warehouse Catholic Classic in Owensboro. Mercy will take on host Owensboro Catholic (15-5) and Heath (13-5) during the weekend schedule.
"If we're not better than we were today, it's going to be a long weekend. But if we play the way we're capable of, then we can sort of regroup" said Bloomer. "The beauty of this game is, when you play in those weekend tournaments you've got a chance to turn it around. If we go (to Owensboro) and play like gangbusters, everybody forgets that we lost to Fern Creek."
Mercy will play its aforementioned game against the Aces at 5:30pm on Friday, and then take on the Heath Pirates on Saturday at Noon. Both games will be played at Owensboro Catholic.