STEARNS -- For the 13th time in 14 years, the 48th District championship trophy will be coming back to Southwestern High School.
In part to a 14-4 victory (five innings) over McCreary Central last night in Stearns, the Southwestern Lady Warriors are 48th District champions for the third consecutive year and the 13th time in 14 seasons.
Last night's game did not get out to a good start for Southwestern, as McCreary Central jumped out to an early lead. The Lady Warriors would not go down without a fight, allowing them to earn the district title and a trip to the 12th Region Tournament.
"We came out a little bit flat tonight," began Southwestern head coach Jarrod Sumner. "I thought that we were ready, but we just missed a couple of pitches there. McCreary then hit a home run, and then we committed an error or two."
Paced by a two-run homer from Allyson Anderson and a pair of Lady Warrior errors, the McCreary Central Lady Raiders catapulted out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Thanks to three hits and two McCreary Central errors, Southwestern responded with four runs of their own in the bottom half of the frame to grab a 4-3 advantage.
The Lady Warriors widened their lead to a 6-3 margin in the second inning, and that all was thanks to a two-run home run from Madison Gaskin. After Callie Burton led off the frame with a triple that hit the top of the fence, Gaskin sent a ball over the fence for a two-run blast that allowed Southwestern to run their lead out to three runs.
McCreary Central plated a lone run in the top half of the third frame to cut the Lady Warrior lead down to two runs at 6-4. Southwestern lit up the scoreboard in the bottom portion of the inning, as they tacked on five more runs to take an 11-4 advantage over the Lady Raiders.
Led by a two-run single from Kaitlyn Gwin, Southwestern added three insurance runs in the fourth inning to widen their lead out to double digits at 14-4. The Lady Warriors held on to their ten-run lead, allowing the game to finish in the fifth inning due to the ten-run mercy rule.
Four Lady Warriors -- Ashtyn Hines, Lillie Turpin, Olivia Ulrich, and Gwin -- all accumulated two hits apiece in the victory. Eight of the nine Southwestern players in the lineup recorded at least one hit. Gaskin and Ulrich led Southwestern with four RBI's each, while Gwin chimed in with three RBI's.
On the mound, Turpin went the distance for Southwestern. The Lady Warrior pitcher gave up four runs on four hits while tossing four strikeouts in five innings of work.
Since the realignment of the 12th Region prior to the 2005-06 school year, the 48th District has been dominated by the Lady Warriors. Southwestern has won the championship every year, except when Wayne County dethroned the Lady Warriors in the spring of 2016.
Southwestern won every district title from 2006 to 2015 -- to be exact, that is ten district titles in a row. After Wayne County won in 2016, the Lady Warriors have racked up three district championships in a row.
Following the district title game win, the Lady Warriors move their overall record to 25-9 on the year. Southwestern's next contest will be the 12th Region Tournament, which will be held in Nicholasville.
The Lady Warriors will find out who they will play on Thursday, but according to Sumner, his team will have to come ready to play no matter who they draw.
"We find out who we draw on Thursday, but it doesn't matter who you draw, because it's going to be a battle either way," stated Sumner. "All the teams are going to be fighting for a region championship."
The region tourney is set to get underway this weekend in Nicholasville. Look for regional tournament brackets and game times in an upcoming edition of the Commonwealth Journal.