By Les Dixon / Staff Writer
OWENSBORO — Despite graduating six starters from last season’s 13th Region championship squad, James Burns’ South Laurel Lady Cardinals (sixth appearance in the state tournament and 3-10 overall) are back at the big show for the second time in as many years with hopes of putting last season’s 0-2 performance in the KHSAA State Fastpitch Tournament behind them.
To do so, the Lady Cardinals (31-8) must find a way to get past 10th Region champion George Rogers Clark in first round action tonight which is slated for an 8 p.m. start.
“I don’t know much about them, but they seem to have a pretty good team,” South Laurel coach James Burns said. “I know they’ve got a pitcher that's really good on the mound and hitting the ball.
“The key for us is to continue to play like we have been,” he added. “We’ve got to take advantage of our speed, and play some small ball. We’ve been practicing on that, and hopefully we can be successful.”
The pitcher Burns is talking about is Jenna Edwards, who has compiled a 25-9 record this season along with a 2.29 ERA. She has struck out 190 batters in 208 innings of work and will be going against a South Laurel team that doesn’t strike out much — averaging only 1.8 strikeouts a game.
“You know, I was looking at last year’s team stats and compared them to this year’s and we’re actually hitting better (average-wise),” James Burns said. “We’re not hitting as many home runs, but we do have a better batting average.
“We put the ball in play,” he added. “We really do that well, and we really don’t strike out much. We’ve got to avoid hitting pop flies, which we have done a lot, but I really like the way we’ve been hitting.”
South Laurel has a solid pitcher of its own in Hagan Burns. The senior right-hander has been top-notch the entire season and looks to have turned things up a notch after not pitching for three weeks due to a shoulder injury.
Burns has compiled a 24-4 record along with a .51 ERA, 12 shut outs and 182 strikeouts. She also batted an impressive .447 on the season with 55 hits, three home runs and 46 RBI.
“Hagan has really been pitching great for us,” James Burns said. “We’ve got to continue to get solid pitching out of her if we want to make it far.”
James Burns will also count on players such as eighth-grader Makenzie Powenski, Brittany Vanderventer, Hagan Burns, eighth-grader Leslie Dixon, Destiney Salva and Madyson Morris to carry the load offensively.
Powenski led the Lady Cardinals with an impressive .496 batting average, 61 hits (a team record for an eighth-grader), while driving in 38 runs, scoring 44 times, stealing 20 bases and collecting 16 doubles and five triples.
Vandeventer is batting .440, going 55-of-125 at the plate while scoring 56 runs. She led the team with 25 stolen bases while driving in 38 runs and connecting with a homer. She also had 17 doubles and three triples while striking out only three times in 141 plate appearances.
Dixon has turned in a stellar season for South Laurel. She managed to string together an 18-game hit streak along the way while batting .419, going 36-of-89 while striking out only three times in 99 plate appearances. She also drove in 16 runs, stole 15 bases and scored 32 runs.
Salva missed some of the early part of the season, but came out red hot, turning in a .350 batting average while collecting 28 hits, 24 RBI, and 21 runs scored.
Lady Cards hope for good start in state tourney
By Les Dixon / Staff Writer
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