By John Stepp For The Times Tribune
LONDON — The North Laurel Minor League All Stars advanced to the second round of the softball state tournament with an 8-3 win over Ashland American on Monday.
North Laurel controlled the game from the very first inning with dominant pitching and superb base running.
Starting pitcher Daria Casey picked up the win for North Laurel, pitching two innings, allowing no hits and striking out five. Maddie Dagley and Taylor Jones also saw time in the circle for North Laurel, pitching two innings apiece.
“We’ve got a good group of girls. If one doesn’t show up, another one will,” North Laurel coach John Sizemore said. “One thing we did well is pitching. We’re deep. We saved all of our pitchers and didn’t burn any of them.”
North opened the scoring in the second inning as Kambrie Collier and Maylee Philpot each scored on errors. They added three more runs in the third inning with Dagley, Casey and Jones all crossing the plate.
North pushed their lead to 6-0 in the top of the fifth inning, as Jones scored another run after reaching base on a walk.
Ashland answered for the first time in the bottom of the inning, scoring two runs and cutting the lead to 6-2.
The teams each scored in the sixth inning, but Ashland could only cut the lead to 8-3 as the North Laurel defense stopped any chance of an Ashland comeback. In all, the North pitching staff combined to allow no hits while striking out 15 batters.
“I was confident, but I thought nerves would be here,” Sizemore said. “We showed so much confidence in the district so I was pretty confident coming into this tournament.
“Winning is what it’s all about, but we’ve got to take it one game at a time,” he added.
North will play in the second round of the state tournament tonight at 6 p.m.