COLUMBIA — It wasn’t the ending South Laurel 9-10 year-old All-Star coach Brent Jackson wanted, but after seeing his team drop a 12-0 decision to Boyd County in Wednesday's state championship game, he told his players to hold their head high and be proud of their state runner-up finish.
South Laurel ran out of steam against Boyd County after losing the pitching services of Kenzie Williams when Jackson and his coaching staff made a decision to keep her in during the seventh inning of Tuesday’s win over Russell County.
With Williams having to get a day’s rest in before pitching another game, Jackson knew the odds were stacked against his team.
“It’s a great feeling just to get here, and to be able to accomplish what we did,” he said. “Last night’s (Tuesday) game was a battle, and we made a conscious decision to get to the championship game (by keeping Kenzie Williams in to pitch). That put us in a bit of a situation in this game of course, but Boyd County is a great team. It’s just a part of softball.
“They have a great pitcher and a great team, and I think we have as equal of a great team,” Jackson added. “The cards just didn’t fall the right way, but that’s just a part of it. The girls are going to learn from it, and they’re going to be together for a long time.”
Boyd County took control of the game with a five-run first inning while putting South Laurel away with another five-run inning during the second.
Jackson’s squad managed only one hit (Morgan Jackson) during the game.
Despite the loss, Jackson was pleased with how his team’s success during the past two weeks.
“The girls are playing on the field, but there is so much more going in to it,” he said. “This is the best group of parents that I’ve ever been associated with. There was no negativity, and none of the decisions that Glenn (Williams), and I made were questioned for one second. That is a huge part of the success — everyone bought in.
“The board at South Laurel has been great, too, and they’ve helped us to build up to this the last two or three years,” Jackson added. “I can’t say thank you enough to those people as well.”
Jackson reflected on his team’s play during the District 4 Tournament, and the state tournament, and said the future is bright for not only his group of players, but for many teams locally.
“I just want to say this, I told Clay County after we played them (last week), there are going to be some state titles out of the 13th Region in the future,” he said. “Once all of the battles are done, whoever comes out of that the next four to five years, I really feel like we could get multiple state titles because somebody out of the 13th Region will be that good.”