Boyle County has already gotten a look at Thursday’s opponent in the first round of the 2012 Rawlings/KHSAA Softball State Tournament.
The Rebels lost to No. 22 Oldham County 4-0 on March 31 in the Ballard Invitational. The rematch is at 6 p.m. Thursday at Jack C. Fisher Park in Owensborom, and even though the first game was more than two months ago, Boyle coach Brian Deem said there is still a lot to be learned from that contest.
“I think what we have taken from it, we know which of their kids are power hitters. One through five they can all hit the ball and drive it,”Ã?Â¿Deem said. “They’re going to be able to turn on a pitch and hit it. And six through nine, they’re going to put the ball in play and force us to make plays.
“So we’re going to have to play strong defense Thursday. I do know they did some things defensively against us that caused us problems that we have addressed and will be prepared for.”
Oldham, the 8th Region champion, has a school-record 34-6 record this season and won its first regional title since winning two straight in 2006 and 2007. As a team, the Colonels are hitting .309 and averaging 5.5 runs per game and have 20 home runs. They are allowing 2.75 runs per game and have a team ERAÃ?Â¿of 1.30.
But what Boyle did not get a look at in that game was the Colonels’ junior pitcher Jessica Leanhart. She is 29-5 with a 0.81 ERA, and has 207 strikeouts and 54 walks in 189 innings and has given up just 22 earned runs all season. Leanhart is also Oldham’s leadoff hitter, hitting .247 with 19 RBIs, four doubles, two triples and 29 runs scored.
“We played them in the third game of the tournament and they threw Mackenzie Wells (who is 2-0 with a 2.10 ERA),”Ã?Â¿Deem said. “We hit some balls off of her, but we had a nightmare game running the bases.
“Jessica throws a good ball, a lot of movement, so we’re going to stay off her rise ball, and force her to bring things down in the zone so we can get on top and drive balls.”
Alli Veech, who has committed to Louisiana-Lafayette, hits in the No. 2 spot. She is hitting .391 with a team-high 10 home runs, 31 RBIs, seven doubles ,a team-high 10 triples and has scored 44 runs.
“She’s a baller, a complete player, the total package”Ã?Â¿Deem said.
No. 3 hitter Sarah Lopesilvero leads the team with 36 RBIs and is hitting .386 with 10 doubles and two home runs and No. 7 hitter Rabecca Wishnevski has six home runs and 26 RBIs.
Boyle also had its best season ever, with its first 12th Region title and 30-11 record.
Three Rebel pitchers have won 10 games. Senior KKÃ?Â¿Davis is 10-7 with two saves. She has a 1.94 ERA and has 102 strikeouts and 28 walks in a team-high 94 innings. Junior Hannah Miniard is 10-3 with a save a 1.51 ERA, and has struck out 109 batters and walked 15 in just 65 innings. Junior Elysse Petrie is 10-1 with a save, has a 1.71 ERA and has 91 strikeouts and 22 walks in 78 innings.
Offensively, the Rebels are averaging 4.9 runs per game, hitting .301 as a team with hit eight home runs and 56 doubles.
Miniard is hitting .493 with two home runs, 21 RBIs and 10 doubles. Leadoff hitter Lauren Richards is hitting .311 and leads the team with 31 runs. She has driven in 19 runs and has 10 doubles.
Sammi Key leads the team with three home runs, 11 doubles and 29 RBIs, Davis has 26 RBIs, and Danielle Mason and Richards each have 37 hits.
Boyle has had a week off since beating Mercer County in last Wednesday’s 12th Region Tournament final, and Deem said his team needed it.
“We needed to kid of settle down. It gave us time to enjoy the moment. We took that Thursday off and practiced Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday,” said Deem, whose team left for Owensboro this morning.
Deem did not want to stray too far from what the Rebels did during the regular season.
“We’re trying to keep our routine as normal as possible, considering everything that’s going on. That’s what I learned from (former Boyle football coach)Ã?Â¿Chuck Smith,”Ã?Â¿Deem said. “In my 11 years in football and in soccer, we practiced the way we played and I wanted to keep the schedule as routine as we normally would.”
Since Boyle is making its first rip to the state tournament, Deem isn’t sure how his team, which has just two seniors, will react.
“I think we’ve got two ways we can approach it. We can be the team that has never been here beore and come in with our eyes wide open and completely in awe and put ourselves in a bad situation where we have to play a lot of games on Friday (after losing),”Ã?Â¿Seem said. “Or we can be focused and play to win and whatever happens, happens. Good things will happen if we do that.”