It’s been a work in progress all season for Warren East softball Philip McKinney, tinkering with the lineup to try and find the best combination on the field and in the lineup.
That constant shuffling has paid off to date, with the Lady Raiders one win away from a third straight Region 4 title. Warren East earned its fourth straight trip to the region championship, holding on for a 5-4 win over Barren County on Monday at the WKU Softball Complex.
Warren East (25-13-1) jumped out to an early lead and had to hold off a late charge by the Trojanettes to stay alive and move into Tuesday’s title tilt.
“All you want to do is give yourself a chance and that’s what we’ve done,” McKinney said. “We did all kinds of different stuff throughout the year. Tonight you got to see a little bit of it. We’ll play 14 or 15 different kids. We are young. Our defensive lineup is not our best offensive lineup. Our best offensive lineup is not our best defensive lineup.”
Warren East jumped out to a 5-0 lead with a huge first inning – getting six hits off Barren County pitcher Lilie Broady.
Maude Forrester started the scoring with an RBI double and Addison Lee added an RBI single two batters later to make the score 2-0. Lee’s hit started a string of five straight batters reaching with two outs – capped by a two-run double from Harley Stringfield that pushed the lead to 5-0.
“You never know how things are going to go sometimes in these games, but that first inning – so many things kind of went against us there,” Barren County coach Daryl Murphy said. “Not taking anything away from Warren East, they hit the ball, but we didn’t make some plays we typically make that are routine. We were off our game a little bit.”
Broady settled in after the first and gave up one hit the rest of the way, allowing Barren County (26-8) a chance to get back into the game.
The Trojanettes broke through in the fourth, scoring two runs on Mary Schalk’s base hit that included two errors.
An error and a fielder’s choice with no out recorded put two runners on with two out in the seventh for Barren County’s Alyssa Curtis, who smacked a two-run double down the line to trim the deficit to 5-4.
The comeback ended there as Warren East’s Emma Markham got a popup in foul territory for the final out.
Stringfield, Warren East’s catcher, said she told her battery mate during the seventh-inning rally to bear down and keep her senior season going – adding she was happy the team was able to hold on for the win.
“It means a lot,” Stringfield said. “Our season hasn’t been as good as recent years, but we keep trying our hardest to get out there and win.”
Lee finished with two hits for the Lady Raiders.
Barren County finished with eight hits. Eva Bogue led the way with two hits.
“I told the girls after the game that 5-0 to a team that has historically given us (trouble), it would be easy to give up,” Murphy said. “We battled and battled. There was a lot of fight in our kids, no doubt.”
Warren East will now face South Warren in the title game for a fourth straight season on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the WKU Softball Complex. The Spartans won all three meetings this season, including an 11-1 win in the District 14 championship game on Thursday.
BCHS 000 200 2 – 4 8 0
WEHS 500 000 X – 5 7 3
WP: Markham LP: Broady.