OWENSBORO, Ky. – After a poor defensive performance in her team’s first chance to win a state championship on Saturday, Taylor Ricketts didn’t miss on her second try.
The sophomore second baseman crushed a grand slam for a 6-2 lead and Scott County High School went on to beat McCracken County 7-6 in the championship game of the Worth/KHSAA State Tournament at Jack C. Fisher Park.
Ricketts committed three errors in Scott County’s 11-1 loss to McCracken County in the first game of the championship round. That forced a second title game because it was the Cardinals’ first loss in the double-elimination tournament.
“I believe in myself and my coach believed in me, so I picked myself up,” Ricketts said. “I just had to get a hit, erase the errors and keep playing.”
Scott County (33-9) — ranked No. 6 in the state — captured its first state softball crown and capped a banner year at the school that also includes a Class 6-A football title, a boys’ bowling championship, and a runner-up finish in the boys’ basketball state tournament.
It also capped a big day for first-year Scott County coach Jeff Portwood, who was celebrating his 28th wedding anniversary with his wife, Kenna.
“What better anniversary present than that,” he said. “It’s one I won’t forget.”
Scott County trailed 2-1 entering the third inning before its five-run rally. Katie Stamper, a Bellarmine University signee who was named the tournament’s MVP, had an RBI single to tie the score at 2. After Samantha Luckett walked to load the bases, Ricketts hit just her second home run of the season — and the first grand slam of her life — for a 6-2 lead.
“As soon as I saw the pitch coming I was like, ‘Oh, crap, she just messed up,’ ” Ricketts said. “I knew it was my pitch, and I knew the bases were loaded and we needed to score. So I went at it.”
No. 1 McCracken County (41-7) mounted a late rally, scoring four runs in the fifth inning and tying the score at 6 on Rachel Ridolfi’s groundout.
But Scott County put together three straight hits in the bottom of the fifth to regain the lead, getting a double from Kelci Long, a single from Halie Fain and an RBI single from Hannah Davis to make it 7-6.
McCracken County had a final chance in the seventh after a one-out single by Kelsee Henson. Hannah Ridolfi followed with a single to right, but pinch-runner Mia Rayburn was thrown out at third after missing a sign from coach Tony Hayden.
“It’s one of them sophomore running mistakes,” Hayden said. “There was no way I was bringing her with the batters we had coming up.”
Maddie Wooten grounded out to pitcher Marlee Tevis — a Bellarmine signee — to end the game and start Scott County’s celebration.
Portwood wasn’t surprised his team, especially Ricketts, rallied after the 11-1 loss in the first meeting with McCracken County.
“All we did was regroup … and she regrouped obviously and came to play,” Portwood said of the grand slam. “Huge hit. I think it maybe took a little gas out of McCracken.”
Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and followed on Twitter @kyhighs.
CHAMPIONSHIP, GAME 2
McCracken County 110 040 0 – 6 10 1
Scott County 015 010 x – 7 14 2
WP – Marlee Tevis. LP – Neely Quint. HR – Taylor Ricketts (SC). 2B – Jacqueline Roof (MC), Samantha Smith (SC), Kelci Long (SC).
CHAMPIONSHIP, GAME 1
Scott County 000 01 – 1 4 5
McCracken County 100 (10)x – 11 5 0
WP – Jenny Chapman (MC). LP – Marlee Tevis (SC). 3B – Kelci Long (SC).
ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM: Katie Stamper (MVP), Marlee Tevis, Kelci Long (Scott County); Maddie Wooten, Jacqueline Roof, Keely Barnes (McCracken County); Amanda McIver, Jessica Wireman (Male); Erika Downey, Leigh Ellen Thomas (Mercy); Katelyn Knott (Apollo); Megan Hensley (Ashland Blazer); Kayla Bale (Green County).