Prior to Tuesday's 47th District Tournament championship game, Pulaski County coach Brad Gover warned his team that it couldn't afford another slow start against a very good Rockcastle County team.
Unfortunately for the Lady Maroons (24-6) and Gover, that's exactly what happened.
A couple of Pulaski fielding errors helped the Lady Rockets (25-10) plate a pair of runs in the second and third innings and give them a lead they never relinquished on their way to a 4-3 win over the Lady Maroons to claim the district title and help avenge two earlier losses to Pulaski earlier in the season.
The slow start left Gover shaking his head afterward.
"I told them that we had two come out ready to play from the first pitch, and we just didn't," Gover said. "We let balls drop. We watched balls hit the deck, didn't move our feet. It was very uncharacteristic and I really didn't expect this out of our team."
After a scoreless first inning, Rock got on the board first.
Madison Yates lined a one-out hit into right field.
The next batter, Ashlyn Brock pushed a bunt down the third base line that eluded Pulaski third baseman Bella Ellis.
After Casey Coleman drew a walk to load the bases, Madison McIntosh lofted a sacrifice fly into left to plate courtesy runner Madison Yates to give Rock a 1-0 lead.
The Lady Maroons quickly answered in the the bottom of the second inning.
Eva Gover lead off the inning with a single to center and advanced to second on a sac bunt by Holly Barron.
One out later, Gabby Countryman came through with a line drive double bring Gover home to tie it at 1-1.
Rockcastle once again took advantage of a Pulaski miscue in the field to retake the lead in the top of the third inning.
Selicity Broadus singled to left to lead off the inning and advanced to second when the ball skipped past the Pulaski left fielder.
Pulaski pitcher Kaylee Strunk retired Raegan Chasteen on a pop-up to first base.
But the next batter, Emma Smith came up with a big two-out bloop single ffor the Lady Rockets to score Broadus to give Rock a 2-1 lead they never relinquished.
Rockcastle added a run on two hits and a sac bunt to go up 3-1 in the fifth and another run on a hit and a pair of walks to take a 4-1 lead into the bottom of the sixth.
After some uncharacteristic timidness at the plate, the Lady Maroons came out in the bottom of the sixth inning once again attacking the ball at the plate to claw back into the game.
Sophomore Dawn Wilson hit the first pitch of the inning off the wall in center field for a double.
Riley Hull followed with a single to center to move Wilson to third and she advanced to second on the throw to third base.
Eva Gover made it three hits in a row when she drove a single into left field to score Wilson to cut the deficit to 4-2.
Two batters later Ellis lofted a sac fly into center field to bring Hull home to pull the Lady Maroons to within a run, 4-3.
But Rockcastle pitcher Madison McIntosh got out of the inning with a strike out, and set down the Lady Maroons in order in the seventh to close out the win.
Brad Gover said a big difference in the game was that Rockcastle executed when it needed to with runners on base and his team didn't.
"We had way too many called third strike calls, we were chasing bad pitches, we didn't lay bunts down when we were supposed too to move runners and it gets you in the in," he said. "I'm very disappointed. We just have to get back to the drawing board and see what happens in the region."
Strunk went the distance in the circle for Pulaski, tossing seven innings. She gave up all four runs while giving up seven hits and four walks, while striking out two Rockcastle batters.
MiIntosh picked up the win, going seven innings and allowing three runs on six hits with one walk and eight strike outs.
Offensively for Pulaski, Gover led the way with a pair of singles, an RBI and a run scored. Gabbie Countryman had a double and RBI, Wilson had a double, walk and scored a run and Molli Nelson, Strunk and Hull had one single each.