(by Don Meador, June 1, 2022)
The 2022 softball season came to a close for the Allen County-Scottsville Lady Patriots in the Region 4 semifinals on Sunday, May 29, after a 17-0 loss to the Greenwood Lady Gators. The setback came a day after AC-S survived a 12-inning, three and a half hour marathon with Logan County. The Lady Patriots prevailed 9-8 in the instant classic.
Logan County appeared to be on their way to an easy win after the first half inning of action on May 28. The Lady Cougars plated a pair of runs on a double by Emmerson McKinnis. After a walk and an out, an AC-S’s fielder's choice and an error led to two additional runs, spotting the Lady Cougars a 4-0 lead.
Recognizing that answering the Logan runs would be an important confidence builder the rest of the way, AC-S did just that. Singles by Hadley Borders and Ally Anderson started the home half of the first. On a key early at bat, Lady Patriot slugger Bailey Ausbrooks successfully advanced her teammates with a sacrifice bunt. Moments later, a passed ball allowed Borders to score from third. On the same play, Anderson raced home as Logan County’s catcher attempted to field the ball. The Lady Patriots were back into the game.
After a pair of scoreless innings, Logan County increased their lead in the fourth. A two-out, three RBI home run by McKinnis staked the Lady Cougars to a 7-2 lead. Again, AC-S answered.
Aubrey Williams doubled to start the bottom of the fourth. After an out, a triple by Addy Law pushed Williams across. Katie Jo Scott beat out a bunt. Borders singled to score Law. Anderson lifted a sacrifice fly ro the outfield on which Scott tagged and just beat the throw to the plate to pull AC-S two within two, 7-5.
Again, two innings of scoreless ball followed. Solid defense by AC-S kept the game at two setting the stage for bottom of the seventh dynamics. Borders opened the seventh with a single. After a pop out by Anderson, Ausbrooks jumped on an outside pitch and hit a no-doubt homer beyond the left-center field fence---a homer that pulled AC-S even at seven. Fly outs by Jacie Rice and Williams sent the game to extra innings.
After three innings of nail-biting action, Logan County (18-15) broke through for the go ahead run in the top half of the 10th inning. The score also prompted AC-S coach Brad Bonds to bring Addie Ausbrooks back into the pitcher's spot. After her struggles earlier in the game, Bonds’ had switched to Brooklyn Oliver in the circle. Unlike baseball, in softball, a pitcher can return to pitch. Addie Ausbrooks came in and got AC-S out of the inning.
AC-S countered Logan County’s run and pulled even in the bottom of the 11th. Law singled and scored on a triple by Scott. The game moved to the 12th inning.
After AC-S shut Logan County down in the top half of the inning, Bailey Ausbrooks started the home half with a single. Shiloh Knievel entered to run for Ausbrooks. Rice singled with Knievel moving to third on the play. Outs by Williams and Oliver left Addie Ausbrooks at the plate with Knievel at third and Rice at second. Moments later, the eighth-grader ripped a ball into the gap between third and short. Logan’s shortstop made a diving play to start the ball and get off the throw to first. However, Addie Ausbrooks beat the off line throw, giving AC-S the 9-8 win.
“This team has been built on resilience all year long,” noted Lady Patriot coach Brad Bonds after the game. “We have battled a lot of adversity. There have been times when we have not played well. This team is built on resilience and I love this team. They are doing it for each other.”
Bonds added that his team’s determination to chip away was a key.
“You don’t want to put yourself in a hole early and you don’t want to be down 7-2,” Bonds added. “But, we kept telling them that you don’t have to get it all back at once, just chip away. For the most part they bought into that and kept making plays defensively to give themselves a chance offensively. We then delivered on the offensive end.”
Three times in the game, the Lady Patriots answered immediately after Logan County scored.
“That was huge,” Bonds said. “That’s leadership from Bailey and our young kids stepping up. Everyone was productive in a lot of ways. There was a lot on the table for us to learn from moving forward.”
Bonds was also pleased with the effort of both his pitchers.
“Addie pitched well early, they were just on her,” Bonds noted. “Brooklyn pitched really well. When we made the change it was a good change of pace. Later, Brooklyn started to labor. Addie was ready and accepted the challenge and threw really well late.”
The Lady Patriots blasted 19 hits in the game with Borders, Rice, and Law leading the way with three each. Scott Anderson, and Bailey Ausbrooks added two hits each. The Lady Gators ripped 13 hits in the game.
Sunday’s loss to Greenwood was a completely different story. Facing one of the area's top pitchers, AC-S struggled to reach base all game. By game’s end, only Borders, Rice, and Williams had singled---the only baserunners for AC-S the entire afternoon.
Greenwood (32-8) jumped out to a 2-0 after the first inning. However, AC-S hung tough, keeping the game at 2-0 until the fourth. The Lady Gators pushed eight runs across to grab a 10-0 lead. The top of the fifth saw the Gators add seven.
AC-S closes the year with a 19-15 record. Bailey Ausbrooks will be lost to graduation but the Lady Patriots return the rest of their roster. That fact---and the knowledge that a year of travel ball experience awaits many of the players on the squad---would indicate that the future is bright for the Lady Patriots.
Following the tournament, Bailey Ausbrooks, Katie Jo Scott, and Hadley Borders were named to the All-Tournament Team.