By Les Dixon / Staff Writer
SPRINGFIELD — North Laurel's Daria Casey continued to dominate on the mound, striking out 13 batters during the North Laurel 11-12 year-olds' 9-6 win over North Oldham Sunday.
The win advances North Laurel to the winner's bracket finals today at 8 p.m. against Marion County.
"We had good hitting and we were able to produce runs," North Laurel coach Recil Jones said. "Daria had 13 strikeouts and she pitched a great game.
"We ran the bases extremely well," he added. "We Were able to advance to extra bases due to heads up base running."
The North Laurel and Stan Spence All-Stars met a few years ago in the 9-10 year-old State Tournament in Winchester, with Recil Jones’ squad pulling off a 1-0 win.
So when the two teams met again Saturday in first round action of the 11-12 year-old State Tournament, Jones knew his team would have its hands full, and he was right.
North Laurel managed to score a run in the bottom of the fifth inning to pull out a 2-1 win over the Stan Spence All-Stars.
“We played this group when the girls were nine and we won 1-0 in Winchester, so I knew we needed to come ready to play today — they battled all year,” Jones said. “They’ve got a good pitcher. This was a tough game.”
In a game where runs turned out to be scarce, North Laurel took advantage of its scoring opportunities, thanks to a 3-for-3 effort from Gracie Jervis.
“Gracie set the tone right out of the gate with a good hard triple right here,” Jones said. “It gave us the opportunity with her speed and it allowed the girls to to relax in the box. They’ve done well to understand what each girl can do. It was a team effort, one through 11.”
North Laurel also took advantage of a solid pitching effort from pitcher Daria Casey, who didn’t allow a hit until the fifth inning, which turned out to be the only hit Stan Spence got.
Casey finished Saturday's game with 10 strikeouts.
“This was a good effort,” Jones said. “We were able to score a run early to give her some breathing room. Then they got a couple of runners on and we made one throwing mistake that kind of got them back in the game, but overall, it it was a game of good solid defense, and Daria had good pitching. We had good base running, it was hard to pick a loser out of this game — both teams played great.”
North Laurel took a 1-0 advantage in the bottom of the fourth inning after Kenley Jarvis connected with a double and later scored on a hit by Casey.
Stan Spence got back into the game and tied the contest at one apiece in the top of the fifth inning after an errant pick-off attempt at third base allowed a run to score.
The game didn’t stay tied long, as Jones’ squad answered with a run in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Jervis led off with a single, and advanced to third after a pick-off attempt was misplayed. Jervis then scored on the following play, as Morgan Vaughn executed a perfect bunt down the first base line.
“I felt fantastic,” Jones said after the bunt. “I couldn’t have drawn it up any better. It was on the first base side. It went 40 feet before they picked it up. It was two inches off the line. It was beautiful.”
North Laurel failed to push across any more runs, and Stan Spence had one final scoring opportunity fall to the wayside when the potential game-tying run was thrown out at home plate.
North Laurel advances to winner's bracket finals with pair of wins
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