LEXINGTON — The Lady Panthers of Daviess County High School have played their way into the 2021 KHSAA State Softball Tournament championship game.
DC advanced to the finals on Saturday, upending 16th Region upstart Lewis County 6-2 in the semifinal round at the University of Kentucky’s John Cropp Stadium.
The Lady Panthers (34-6) will battle Louisville Butler (33-4) at 1 p.m. (CT) on Sunday in search of the program’s first fast-pitch state title.
“We’ve put ourselves in the position you want to be in this time of year,” Daviess County coach John Biggs said. “Once again, I was pleased with our patience at the plate, swinging at strikes, and taking walks when the pitches were off the plate. We’ve really improved our approach in recent weeks and it’s made a real difference for us.”
Daviess County jumped ahead 1-0 in the top of the first inning. Millie Roberts drew a two-out walk and her courtesy runner, Sadie Morris, scored on a double down the right field line by Jessie Daniels.
The Lady Panthers busted the game open with a five-run outburst in the third inning.
Roberts drove in Sophie Simone with a fielder’s choice and Abby Newman scored on a throwing error. Then, cleanup hitter Daniels stepped to the plate and, on a 3-2 pitch, drilled a three-run homer just below the scoreboard in left-center field to make it 6-0.
“I think she missed the pitch she wanted to throw,” Daniels said of Lewis County pitcher Emily Cole. “I was able to capitalize on the mistake and give us a little breathing room at that point — it felt really good to hit that one.”
Biggs, of course, loved it.
“She was really focused and barreled up on that one,” he said of Daniels. “We’re pretty strong in the middle of our order and when remain disciplined, swinging at good pitches to hit, we’re capable of putting up a crooked number — that inning was an example of that, and being able to put up five runs took some pressure off.”
Lewis County (23-9) never recovered, but did manage to get on the board with a pair of runs in the sixth. Kayla Sullivan delivered an RBI single and another run scored on one of two DC outfield errors committed in the inning.
DC sophomore right-hander Raylee Roby was rock-solid in the circle, limiting the Lady Lions to only five hits, striking out six and walking only one.
“I was ready to go,” said Roby, who pitched four scoreless innings of relief to pick up the quarterfinal victory over Pendleton County on Friday. “I was confident in myself and in my defense the whole way, and it was a good feeling when we broke through to score five runs in the third inning.
“I just stayed focused the whole way, kept pitching my game.”
Daniels went 2-for-4 with four RBIs and a run scored to pace a six-hit attack for Daviess County, who also got base hits from Abby Newman, Roberts, Seana Leibfried, and Greysee Whiteker.
Sarah Weddington had two of the five hits recorded by the Lady Lions, who were victimized by four errors afield.
Cole, in defeat, surrendered four earned runs, struck out 10 and walked three in her 145-pitch complete-game performance.
DAVIESS COUNTY105 000 0 — 6 6 2
LEWIS COUNTY000 002 0 — 2 5 4
WP-Roby. LP-Cole. 2B-Daniels (DC), Johnson (LC). HR-Daniels (DC).