May 23rd, 2012
Mercy Runs Away With 25th District Victory
Jags pull away to defeat Male 9-2 in championship game
Not since Spring Break has Mercy Academy’s softball team had to face a losing streak. But that’s what the Jags were trying to squash in the 25th District fast-pitch softball tournament championship game Wednesday at DuPont Manual.
Mercy dropped games to two state powerhouses, Scott County and Christian County, in last week’s Thrill in the Ville tournament. The Jaguars had to fight off that streak against Male High School’s Bulldogs, who had won six of their last seven games, and was successful by defeating Male 9-2 and capturing the district title.
It was the Jaguars' 3rd straight district championship.
Junior pitcher J.J. Francis made quick work of Male in the first inning, retiring the Bulldogs in order. The Jaguars quickly got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the inning as leadoff hitter junior Morgan Meyer walked. She scored on a single by junior Caroline Keck.
The lead was short lived. With two outs in the top of the second, and a runner on base, Francis delivered a pitch that Male senior Kelsey McDowell turned on and punched over the left field fence. Francis gave up just two hits in the game, and that one gave Male the lead.
But Mercy rallied in the bottom half of the second. Sophomore Erika Downey opened with a single. She scored on a base hit by sophomore Tori Lasley to tie the game 2-2.
Lasley made an exceptional “web gem” catch to end the fourth inning when she raced toward a pop fly in foul territory near the Mercy third base dugout. She dove and made the catch and you could sense the Jaguars were about to ride a sea of emotion.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Jaguars again got on the bases immediately. Meyer reached on an error. She reached base in all four of her at-bats. She advanced to second on a fielder’s choice. Keck then ripped a base hit up the middle. Mercy coach Josh Bloomer was waving Meyer around to score. The ball beat her to the plate as she began to slide. But her foot knocked the ball loose and she scored the go-ahead run giving Mercy a 3-2 advantage.
Francis retired the sides in order in the fifth and sixth innings.
In six of the seven innings played, the Jaguars lead-off hitter reached base. In the sixth inning it was junior Aubrey Meiners, who walked. Sophomores Jessica Hackell and Lasley both reached on bunts that turned into errors. Meyer reached on another error, then senior Morgan Ellington singled to left field as the Jaguars began to light up the scoreboard. Mercy scored six runs in the inning to blow open a close game and led 9-2.
Francis struck out two Bulldogs in the top of the seventh to seal the deal. Mercy (29-8) beats Male (25-11) to win their third straight 25th district tournament title.
“We played some small ball there late and were fortunate,” Mercy head softball coach Josh Bloomer said. “They (Male) would make those plays on most days. We had some opportunities early and made some mental mistakes that I thought maybe cost us a run here or there. Give credit to Male, they came out and swung the bats well and put pressure on us.”
Both teams advance to next week’s Seventh Region tournament.
“It’s big to win the district and to go in as a district champ,” Bloomer added. "But you’re going to have to play three tough games no matter what."