Follow Garrard at the state softball tourney
Garrard County makes its first appearance in the State Softball Tournament later today, and we’ll be in Owensboro to follow the action. The Advocate has big plans to cover the Lady Lions’ two or more games on amnews.com, including in-progress updates, stories from each game and a photo slideshow.
It’s all being packaged on a special Web page artfully created by webmaster extraordinaire Gary Moyers and sponsored by The Irvin Group of Lancaster. The page already includes our pre-tournament stories, a slideshow with mug shots of the Garrard starting nine and statistics from the KHSAA. There will be plenty more posted this afternoon and evening, so be sure to check back. There will be full coverage in Sunday’s Advocate as well.
Garrard’s first-round game against Ryle is at 11:45 a.m., and win or lose the Lady Lions will play a second game at 2:45 p.m. against Ballard or Pleasure Ridge Park. If there’s a third game today, it’ll be at 6 p.m. (They’ll have to win two games Friday, whether in the winners’ bracket or the losers’ bracket, to advance to Saturday.) The KHSAA doesn’t offer live updates from this tournament, so we’ll be the first to do that, at least to this extent, when Larry Vaught updates from today’s games.
Here are some other tidbits on the tournament:
- This is the 14th year for the state fast-pitch tournament, and this is the first appearance for any area school. For years it was an accomplishment for any of them just to win a first-round game in the 12th Region Tournament, where the balance of power tipped heavily to the southern end of the region.
- The KHSAA still refers to this tournament as the state fast-pitch tournament, even though it’s now the only softball championship the association sponsors. It discontinued its slow-pitch tournament last year after participation dwindled to a handful of schools in northern Kentucky.
- Slow-pitch champions were crowned from 1983-2007 (Jessamine County won one in 1993), but the fast-pitch game rose took hold in the 1990s after a lawsuit contended that Kentucky girls were being denied scholarship opportunities because they couldn’t play the same game (fast-pitch) played at the college level. The KHSAA introduced fast-pitch softball but continued to sponsor championships in both games, and the slow-pitch game faded out pretty quickly.
- Only eight schools have won the previous 13 fast-pitch titles. This year’s top-ranked team, Owensboro Catholic, has won four times. Ryle, Garrard’s first-round foe, won the championship in 2006 and lost to Greenwood in the finals last year. Ryle and 2001 winner North Laurel are the only winners from east of the Interstate 65 corridor.
- Garrard has played three of the other 15 teams in the state tournament field, and the Lady Lions defeated them all. They beat 7th Region champion Ballard 6-1 on March 28, beat 14th Region champ Estill County 7-0 on May 3 and beat 10th Region champ George Rogers Clark 5-2 on May 9.
- Ryle has played only one 12th Region team this season. The Lady Raiders defeated Danville 3-0 on April 25 in a tournament at North Laurel. Garrard has not played a team from the 9th Region this spring.
- The aforementioned page at amnews.com will have everything you need to know about Garrard, but here’s the link to the KHSAA page with stats on all 16 teams, tournament brackets and eventually linescores from all the games.
- The tournament is back at Owensboro’s Jack C. Fisher Park for the first time in three years. The park has four fields laid out similar to the four-field baseball and softball designs at Danville’s Millennium Park and Harrodsburg’s Anderson-Dean Community Park. In addition to this event, it regularly hosts large amateur tournaments as well.
- Owensboro is the third-largest city in Kentucky, and I’ve lived in Kentucky for 34 years and traveled to virutally every corner of the state, including 118 of the 120 counties. But I’ve never been to Owensboro, having only bypassed it on the parkways and freeways on the way to other towns. So I’m looking forward to the visit, if not to the always bucolic ride down the Western Kentucky Parkway or the 94-degree heat forecast for today.