BUCKNER, Ky. — For five and a half innings, Trimble County stood toe-to-toe with one of the best teams in the Eighth Region. As the two teams headed to the bottom of the sixth, the Raiders trailed only 6-4, perfectly within striking distance of their potent offense.
But everything fell apart in the bottom half of the sixth. Two key errors — and two other defensive mistakes — opened the door for a six-run inning and Oldham County pulled away for a 12-4 win in the Eighth Region Softball Tournament Quarterfinals Sunday on the Colonels’ home field.
It was a disappointing ending to a spectacular season for Trimble, which reached the regional tournament for the first time since 2004. But as far as head coach Randy Wilson was concerned, Sunday’s game was a win.
“I’m proud of them. A lot of people thought this was going to be a three-inning game and we were down two runs going into the bottom of the sixth,” Wilson said. “We got beat by eight, but for our girls to come out and compete the way they did, I’m super proud of these kids. They didn’t give up with the mentality that they could compete and they did.”
Trimble County (24-12) spent the past 15 years battling with Oldham County and its two county cousins North and South Oldham in the 29th District, but was moved to the much more competitive 31th District in January. The Raiders earned the No. 2 seed in the district playoffs and headed to the regional as district runnerup where old rival Oldham once again awaited.
But Trimble never backed down. The Raiders came into the game batting .411 as a team and hit Oldham starter Kalee Rose for 12 hits in the game and took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third when Kaylee Payton walked and later scored on Emma Ginn’s RBI single.
But Oldham (28-7) answered every Trimble rally. The Colonels struck for three runs in the bottom of the third, highlighted by a Kayley Batts’ two-run home run, to push ahead 3-1.
Trimble came back in the fifth with a solo home run by Rachael Liter — her ninth of the season — and a double by Ginn before an RBI single by McKenna Ritchie tied the game 3-3.
Oldham answered, scoring three runs in the bottom of the fifth, to pull back on top 6-3 but Trimble wasn’t done yet. Payton reached on an infield single and, after advancing to second on a Maddie Nixon sacrifice bunt, scored on Liter’s RBI double to center to close the gap to 6-4.
Ritchie, who has been battling a bad back, began to tire in the circle in the sixth and her defense also let her down. Two outfield errors coupled with two defensive lapses and five Oldham hits spelled doom for the Raiders. Ritchie gave way to Hannah Chilton four batters into the frame and closed out the inning with Oldham blowing open the game.
Trimble got one runner on in the seventh but could manage nothing else to end the game.
Liter went 3-for-4 in her final high school game and finished her senior year hitting .549 with nine home runs and 60 RBIs. Ginn, just a sophomore, went 2-for-4 with an RBI and finished the season hitting a spectacular .670 — third in the state — with 15 home runs, 15 doubles and a state-leading 76 RBIs.
Lauren Haney also had two hits for the Raiders while Chilton, Jaelyn Holbrook and Shelby Wilcoxson each had a hit. Ritchie (19-9) allowed nine earned runs on 11 hits in five and a third innings with one strikeout to take the loss.
While the Raiders were disappointed with the loss, there were no tears. A team with only three seniors won 24 games and reached the regional tournament for the first time since before many of them were born. Wilson is excited about what his team can do next year.
“We’ve got some big shoes to fill with our seniors leaving and we’ve got to make some moves in the field, but I think we’ll be just as successful next year,” Wilson said. “We’ve got McKenna back and a few eighth graders who will be freshmen who can pitch so the future is bright. I’m looking forward to it.”
Oldham County faced Grant County in the semifinals on Monday with Henry County and Collins playing in the other semifinal. The championship game is today in Buckner.