Top-seeded Thursday evening’s 17th District championship softball game between top-seeded Central Hardin and second-seeded Elizabethtown resulted in a 2-0 victory for the Bruins.
The defenses dominated the low-scoring contest, as both teams combined for only six strikes.
Pitching and defense have been one of our primary focuses all season, according to Central Hardin head coach Jamie Goodin. I am a firm believer that pitching and defense win championships, and that was the case tonight.
Emma Watkins of Central Hardin and Taytum Spiers of E’town engaged in a pitching duel.
In the championship game, the two pitchers combined for 17 strikeouts.
Watkins maintained the no-hitter by allowing only two hits and striking out eight batters, while Spiers allowed one earned run on four hits and struck out nine batters.
“With Taytum Spiers over there, you know you won’t have many opportunities to score,” said Goodman. We capitalized on the few opportunities we had before relying solely on defense and pitching.
When scoring opportunities presented themselves, the Bruins capitalized.
A well-placed bunt by Payton Campbell in the bottom of the fourth inning allowed Avery Strader to score.
Two at-bats later, Jenna Smith drove in Campbell with a single to center, extending the Bruins’ lead to 2-0.
“They had a timely hit there on a good pitch from Taytum,” said Elizabethtown head coach Jimmy Schmidt. “They bunted the ball, and we didn’t capture it or toss it away; we did neither. That things occurs. These children are playing pastimes they have never before played. However, that pressure and other similar factors are beneficial to them.
After the two fast runs, Central only needed to tighten up on defense to claim the district championship. The Bruins have won eleven of the last thirteen district championships.
They did so, with Watkins limiting E’town to two total bases for the remainder of the contest.
Goodman said of Watkins, “She’s great, she did a fantastic job.” “We knew it was going to be a battle; every time we face them it’s a battle, and kudos to them, they played a great game as well. It’s one of those situations where you loathe to see either team lose because they both played so well.”
“I thought it was a total team effort,” Goodman added. “Our dugout and defense were all standing. We were in the game, which is necessary at this time of year.”
Thursday saw four different Central Hardin batters record a hit, with Allie Link, Alyssa Gent, Strader, and Smith each recording one.
Alyssa Philpot and Kylie McKinney topped the charts in E’town.
Both Central Hardin (29-8) and Elizabethtown (20-10) advance to the 5th Region tournament, with Elizabethtown facing Bethlehem today at 11 a.m. EST and Central Hardin facing Thomas Nelson at 4 p.m. EST on the same day.