Youngsters growing up quickly for Pioneers

Youngsters growing up quickly for Pioneers


Youngsters growing up quickly for Pioneers


Senior Samantha Perkins is a veteran presence on a Simon Kenton softball team that has three sixth-graders and two eighth-graders.

Senior Samantha Perkins is a veteran presence on a Simon Kenton softball team that has three sixth-graders and two eighth-graders.

Jeff Morgan coached against a daughter for the first time when the Simon Kenton softball team traveled to Pikeville two weeks ago to play Kayla Morgan’s Shelby Valley Lady Cats.

“We won,” Jeff Morgan said. “It was an absolute blast going down there.”

Morgan and his two daughters won a district tournament championship together at Simon Kenton in 2009 before Kayla and Courtney Morgan continued their educations and their softball careers at the University of Pikeville. Jeff Morgan and his wife, the Pioneers’ scorekeeper, are going to see both daughters through college.

“We think it’s great,” Jeff Morgan said.

What he didn’t think he would see is an in-season turnaround by his youthful Pioneers, 16-11 entering Thursday’s games. Competing with one senior on a regular basis and a host of middle-schoolers, they started the schedule 2-6 and fell to 6-8 April 11.

“We were able to turn it around because the kids grew up and they practiced,” said senior catcher Samantha Perkins, hitting .383 with a team-leading three home runs and 28 RBI. “They’re young, but they’ve played a lot of summer ball. Lately, they’ve been hitting.”

Boosted by the bats, featuring Perkins and leading hitter Hannah Perry (.389), and the emerging 1-2 pitching combination of Macy Krohman (8-6, 2.82 ERA) and Samantha Glover (8-4, 3.32 ERA), the Pioneers won six games in a row and eight of nine.

Krohman is batting .386. Haley Perry is at .342 with 24 RBI. Hayley Reynolds is batting .333. Anna Telesz, who holds the season record for steals (41) is back after missing last year with a knee injury.

The Pioneers’ recent hot stretch kept them unbeaten in the 32nd District (5-0) and the Eighth Region (7-0). They have three sixth-graders, including Krohman, and two eighth-graders, including Glover, at the heart of the lineup.

“Our girls are getting the experience and they’re learning,” said Perkins, an Olney Central College recruit. She tied the Pioneers’ single-season home run record last season with eight. “We tell the little girls that every game is just a normal game, and to do their best. I feel me being the oldest, I need to be the leader.”

The kids, some as young as 11, are fine with the 18-year-old Perkins taking control, especially during pitching visits in rattled moments. The goal is to help carry Perkins as far as they can her final season. Step one is getting back to the regional tournament after Grant County bounced the Pioneers in last year’s first round of the district.

“We need to keep hitting, and we’re getting timely hits these last 13 games,” coach Morgan said. “The pitching is keeping us in it for the most part, and we’re getting enough hitting to win.”

The Pioneers came into the week having more than doubled last season’s win total of seven. They have turned it around against quality opponents, going 8-4 at four tournaments.

The Pioneers beat district rival Walton-Verona twice in one day April 21. They took down Grant County Tuesday, and finished the district slate unblemished while earning the No. 1 tournament seed. Coach Morgan said they could not have done it without Perkins’ guiding presence and the quick-learning middle-schoolers.

“It’s really been an impressive turnaround,” he said. “We’ve got some outstanding young players who are only going to get better.”


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