Daviess County will be looking to take another huge step in the KHSAA State Softball Tournament on Friday when it meets 10th Region champion Pendleton County in the quarterfinal round.
First pitch from the University of Kentucky’s John Cropp Stadium is set for 1 p.m. (CT).
The No. 9 Lady Panthers are coming off one of program’s signature victories — a 2-1 upset of No. 2 Louisville Ballard in Saturday’s opening round — but veteran DC head coach John Biggs expects his team to be focused, as usual.
“One thing this year’s team has been consistent at is taking things one step at a time, and I would expect the same when we play Pendleton County,” Biggs said. “Our girls know that much of our success has come from having the ability to focus on the next game, no matter the opponent.
“Besides, when you get this deep in the state tournament every team is capable of beating you, or they wouldn’t have made it this far. I expect our team to be concentrating on doing what we do, and doing it well.”
Now 32-6, Daviess County features a nice mixture of batting average, power, and speed in its order.
Senior shortstop Abby Newman sets the table with a .518 batting average, 20 doubles, four triples, 38 runs scored, and 28 RBIs.
DC features plenty of power in the form of sophomore first baseman Jessie Daniels (13 HR, 51 RBIs, 34 runs) and junior catcher Millie Roberts (.407, 11 HR, 46 RBIs, 46 runs scored).
Also above the .300 mark are Hattie Newman (.314) and Katie Mewes (.304), who also has stolen 10 bases in as many attempts.
The Lady Panthers’ pitching, superb all season, features senior Greysee Whiteker (17-3, 1.41 ERA) and sophomore Raylee Roby (15-3, 1.55 ERA), and they are backed by a solid defensive unit.
“We have a legitimate chance to do some special things moving forward,” Biggs said, “but we have to stay in the moment one play at a time — focus on every pitch and just get the job done the way we have throughout the year.”
Pendleton County (25-11) advanced to the quarterfinals with a solid 8-2 conquest of Boone County in the opening round.
The LadyCats feature one of the state’s most well-rounded players in sophomore pitcher-infielder Kaylee Bruner, who is 18-6 in the circle, with a 1.81 ERA and 254 strikeouts in 150 innings of work. At the plate, she leads the team with a .584 average, nine home runs, and 39 RBIs.
“Bruner is very good, a strikeout pitcher who doesn’t give up a lot of runs,” Biggs said. “From an offensive standpoint, she hits for both average and power, so we need to be able to contain her.
“Otherwise, they are proficient at stealing bases — they’re a young team that has gotten on a nice run in the postseason.”
In addition to Bruner, Pendleton County’s offensive firepower comes from junior middle infielder Reagan Carlisle (.520, 48 runs scored, 37 RBIs, 28 stolen bases) and senior outfielder Olivia Verst (.402, 41 runs scored, 25 RBIs, 19 stolen bases).
Biggs cited three keys to success for DC.
“We need to be patient at the plate, swing at pitches we can handle, and take some walks when that’s the best option,” Biggs said. “Also, our defense needs to continue to be stellar, and in the circle we need to make them earn their way on base.
“If we perform well in these areas, we’ll be giving ourselves the best opportunity to advance.”
The Daviess County-Pendleton County survivor will play the winner of Boyle County-Lewis County on Saturday at 10 a.m. (CT) in the semifinal round.