News and Highlights
Randolph guided Lady
Aces through ups and downs to solid finish
Thursday, June 7,
2012 12:00 am
All's well that ends well, of course, and Owensboro Catholic High School is, indeed, back in the KHSAA State Softball Tournament for the 12th consecutive year, and for the 14th time in 15 seasons.
Keeping the uncommonly long streak of state tournament appearances intact, however, proved to be a significant series of challenges.
Four times, Lady Aces head coach George Randolph had heart-to-heart talks with his talented but inconsistent team. Three times, the discussions bore momentary fruit, before the team lapsed, for Catholic, dangerously close to mediocrity.
"There were a lot of factors holding us up a little bit the first half of the season," Randolph said. "We had graduated 13 seniors the previous two seasons, we had a talented group of inexperienced players we were trying to find the right positions for, and it was taking a while for our younger players to understand their roles.
"But there was some frustration regarding the hunger of this team, and it began with the first game of the season."
Back on March 20, the Lady Aces traveled to Central Hardin, were blanked 5-0, and Randolph was immediately concerned.
"We never really got off the bus that day," Randolph said. "Central Hardin won the game and their team was celebrating afterward. It was a big deal for them to beat us like they did.
"We were flat from start to finish."
Catholic bounced back to win four of its next six games against generally strong competition, before losing consecutive games to Navarre (Fla.) High School to close out a spring break junket.
"Navarre was 19-2, but I didn't think they were much better than we were," Randolph recalled. "We lost the second game to them 8-3, and we just didn't seem to have any energy — we weren't playing with the type of heart you have to play with to compete with or beat quality teams.
"We discussed all this, and, again, for a time, we played better."
The Lady Aces, indeed, won five of their next six games before visiting 9th District rival Daviess County on April 18. That night, Catholic was listless at the plate and fell to the Lady Panthers, 4-2.
"We hit three balls out of the infield the whole night," Randolph said. "We weren't ready to play, Daviess County wanted the game badly, and they deserved to win.
"Our players seemed to be worried about individual stuff at that point, instead of focusing on what we needed to do to play better as a team.
"Losing to a district team and all, I was hoping that would be the last time we would need to have one of those long post-game talks, but that didn't turn out to be the case."
Randolph's regular-season frustration reached its zenith on May 1 when Catholic, needing a victory to claim the No. 1 seed outright for the 9th District Tournament, was shut out 1-0 by Apollo sophomore Katelyn Knott -- creating a rare three-way tie for the No. 1 seed.
The loss left Catholic 13-9-1 overall and 4-2 within the district. Suddenly, for the first time in a dozen years, the Lady Aces seemed vulnerable. Something had to change, and quick.
"After the Apollo game I was wondering if we were ever going to be able to put it together, psychologically and mentally," Randolph conceded. "In my mind, there was no question that the talent was there, but we lacked the hunger our opponents had, and the Apollo game was a great example of that.
"I told the team that there was still time, but we couldn't wait any longer if we expected to be the team we were hoping to be. I told the players it was up to them, that we couldn't do it for them.
"Fortunately, after that, everything began coming together -- and we've playing as team ever since."
The results measure how much. Since losing to Apollo, the Lady Aces have gone 16-1-1 against stout competition -- a 1-0 loss to Louisville Mercy and a 2-2 tie with Louisville Ballard being the only blemishes.
In terms of team talks, the fourth time proved to be the charm.
"We've learned a lot about ourselves, and the girls persevered through the tough times and came out the other side a much more cohesive team," Randolph said. "We won a lot of tight games at the end of the regular season and, looking back, I think that's set us up for success in the postseason.
"Since tournament play started, we've never wavered. Even when we've gotten behind or struggled to score for a few innings, we've maintained the belief we would win in the end -- it takes that sort of mentally tough mindset to win championships, and after some false starts we finally put it all together."
Now, the state's No. 9 team (29-10-2) seems as formidable as ever -- bringing into the state tournament a .322 team batting average, 20 home runs, and a pitching staff earned run average of 2.01.
Statistics aside, Randolph is convinced that re-establishing the hunger and will to win that has made Owensboro Catholic the state's most decorated fast-pitch program (a state record five championships), has been the essential element in the turnaround.
"Sometimes, you can lose to teams not as talented as you because they simply want it more," Randolph said, "and that was a hard lesson for our team to learn this year.
"Once they got it together, though, they kept it together. I would say that no team I've had has made a more pronounced jump from mid-season to the end of the season like this one.
"As I told them all along, it was up to them. And, to their credit, the girls are ones who turned it around. They've discovered their own identity as a team, and I couldn't be more proud of them."
Lady Aces under the
radar -- for once
Thursday, June 7,
2012 12:00 am
Owensboro Catholic has owned the 3rd Region in softball. The numbers don't lie. The Lady Aces just packed their 12th consecutive 3rd Region championship in their trophy case.
Wasn't supposed to happen, but it did.
Owensboro Catholic has always been in the talk for the state softball championship, too. The Lady Aces go into this tournament, starting today at Jack C. Fisher Park, having won a record five fast-pitch state titles since 1998. All have been under coach George Randolph's watch.
The Lady Aces last won the last game of the KHSAA softball season back in 2009.The Lady Aces have gone 0-4 since then in their last two state tournament appearances, an equally remarkable statistic going the other direction.
And, you would need an incredibly strong search engine to find any word of Catholic being a threat in this state tournament.
"As far as us, even though we're ranked in the top 10, we're not getting any mention as being one of the favorites; that's fine with us," Randolph said as the Lady Aces were taking fielding practice earlier this week. "Everybody had pretty well written us off at midseason. We tied Ballard in the last week of the season, they went up to second and we dropped to ninth. So, no, there's no pressure on us."
That is a mighty rare late spring occurrence when the 16 best high school softball teams in the commonwealth gather here to decide who's the best.
How well that mindset works for Catholic over the next couple of days will be interesting to see. It has taken some time for this group to gell, but the Lady Aces seem to have hit a nice stride heading into the double-elimination format. They finished ranked No. 9, but went 15-1-1 down the stretch. Catholic takes a 29-10-2 record into the state tournament.
Randolph is quick to rattle off the teams he thinks should be the favorites, and leading his list is Greenwood (No. 3), Mercy (No. 4) and Christian County (No. 5). Of course, Randolph thinks his team should be in the mix as a potential winner, too.
"The last three weeks of the regular season we played some good ball, we were in some tight ballgames, we came back and won some games, made some big plays in the field and got some clutch hitting," Randolph said. "I think that's helped their confidence and they are comfortable where they are at, and with their roles."
Emily Woodward is a senior who was on Catholic's state title team in 2009. She was also in the two winless state tournaments. Woodward, an infielder, thinks the Lady Aces have taken a dual approach to this tournament.
There isn't pressure on this team because it took so long for it to get rolling. Yet, because the Lady Aces aren't in the discussion as a possible state winner, they feel like they're being slighted.
"We don't have as much pressure because we haven't done as well," Woodward said. "But the fact that teams aren't talking about us makes us feel like we have something to prove to them."
The goal for the Lady Aces here is the same as always when it's state tournament time. No matter the record, Catholic expects to be playing for a championship beyond the regional.
"We go in this thing thinking we're going to win the state," Woodward said. "We don't want to go 0-2. The goal is to win a state championship. We went in there last year thinking we want to win it. We went in there two years ago thinking we want to win it. We're going to go in this year trying to go all the way to the end."
Getting themselves together during the postseason, playing their best softball of the year, has made the Lady Aces believe they can stick around for more than two games.
"Our confidence has improved tremendously," Woodward said. "People didn't even think we would get out of region, now we're going into the state tournament. We're at the highest peak of our season, we're playing the best ball we've played all year.
"I think that's an intimidation factor for the other teams, because we're playing our best ball, and people thought we weren't even going to be in the state. There are teams that aren't in the state that should have been, and we're in the state now, so it's our time to prove ourselves, and try to win a state championship."
'battle-tested' entering state tournament
Wednesday, June 6,
2012 12:00 am
In his 17 seasons as head coach of the Owensboro Catholic High School softball team, George Randolph has never shied away from putting together a challenging schedule for the Lady Aces — and he's never stopped believing that playing state- and nationally-ranked teams hasn't been beneficial to the program.
Thus, ninth-ranked Catholic (29-10-2) will enter Thursday's opening-round game against Johnson Central in the Rawlings/KHSAA State Tournament at Jack C. Fisher Park "battle-tested," according to Randolph.
"It's always been my belief that to be the best, you have to play the best," said Randolph, who has led the Lady Aces to a record five fast-pitch state championships and 12 consecutive 3rd Region titles. "You don't get better playing a soft schedule. You get better by competing against quality teams, and, even in defeat, learning new things about the game.
"We've played nationally ranked teams such as Niceville (Fla.). We've been playing them since 2001 and in all that time we've never beat them — we tied them once. But we've gained a lot from playing them, even with the losses we've taken — every time."
In addition to Niceville, Catholic has battled other teams from Florida and throughout the southeast through the years. The Lady Aces have played in big-time Tennessee tournaments in Nashville and Murfreesboro, have played in elite events throughout Kentucky, have played the best from southern Indiana, and annually host one of the commonwealth's top tournaments — the Sports Warehouse Catholic Classic.
It's all by design for Randolph and his highly seasoned staff, who want Catholic's players to be the best they can when it counts -- in the postseason.
"We want our players to believe they've seen every scenario possible by the end of the regular season — pitching, hitting and defense," Randolph said. "I've always felt that's made us more prepared at tournament time, because the girls come away believing they can compete against the best teams out there — that can be a really big edge, psychologically.
"It's a matter of gaining confidence and learning what it takes to compete with, and beat, the best. It can be a tough adjustment for a player coming up from the freshmen or (junior varsity) team, but it's an adjustment that has to be made. Some make it better, and quicker, than others -- but at some point you have to make that leap."
Understanding his schedule is more rugged than most, Randolph is philosophical when it comes to his team's won-lost record.
"I've never been one to worry about how many wins or losses we have, as long as we're getting better as a team in the process," he said. "Now, that doesn't mean I don't want to win every game, because I do. But you have to be realistic and understand sometimes the other team just plays better than you -- I'm OK with that."
Randolph said he got the idea for competitive scheduling in the 1990s, when for a couple of years he drove the bus for Catholic's baseball team on its spring break junket to Gulf Shores, Ala.
"I learned a lot from those experiences," he said. "The baseball team would be playing its fourth or fifth game, and their opponent would be two weeks away from postseason play. When you can compete with teams like that, it has to be helpful to you in the long run.
"So, we started taking our softball team south and you could tell right away we were gaining from the experience. We'd come back to Kentucky feeling like we were ready for anybody."
What was true then remains so.
"Playing great teams helps you understand you have to be ready to play, and play with passion, every time you step on the field," Randolph said. "The state tournament will be full of great teams, so hopefully playing another tough schedule will pay off for us this week.
"It definitely won't hurt."
key to Lady Aces' late run
Tuesday, June 5,
2012 12:00 am
While it has taken a team effort, with the emphasis on team, for Owensboro Catholic High School's softball program to transform itself from mediocre at mid-season to magical in the postseason, no individuals on the Lady Aces' roster has contributed in the myriad ways Brittany Murphy has.
She is undoubtedly a primary reason No. 9 Catholic (29-10-2) is one of the hottest teams in the commonwealth as it prepares for 15th Region champion Johnson Central in the opening round of the Rawlings/KHSAA State Softball Tournament at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Jack C. Fisher Park.
A 5-foot-5 junior right-hander, Murphy evolved into the team's ace pitcher and starred at shortstop on days she wasn't delivering on-the-corner fastballs, curves, rise balls and change-ups.
In short, Murphy has become a star.
"I'm really proud of Brittany on several levels," OCHS head coach George Randolph said. "We knew she was a talented pitcher, but we needed her to step forward and have that bulldog mentality it takes to become a stopper. She's done that, and it's made a lot of difference in her competitiveness and her success as a pitcher."
The numbers speak for themselves, as Murphy has carved out a 16-5 record, with 93 strikeouts and a team-best earned run average of 1.55.
She won all three of Catholic's 3rd Region Tournament games, including a relief appearance in the Lady Aces' 13-7 semifinal conquest of upset-minded Muhlenberg County.
"I've gained more confidence as the season's gone along," the soft-spoken Murphy said. "I've learned to make the best pitch I can make and then rely on the great defense I've got behind me. You just take it pitch by pitch and do the best you can do — that's really all you can do as a pitcher."
Her production, of course, hasn't been limited to the pitcher's circle.
Murphy has been one of the team's most potent hitters in the postseason, and has been solid all season — batting .300 with four homers, 25 RBIs (tied with catcher Brooke Payne for most on the team), to go with seven doubles and a triple. At shortstop, she has exhibited terrific range and a strong, accurate arm.
She cracked a solo homer to ignite a six-run fifth inning against Muhlenberg County, then came back with a two-run homer in the seventh inning to help put the finishing touches on Catholic's 6-1 victory over Apollo in the regional championship game.
"I just love to play, whether it's pitching or playing the field," she said. "Every time I take the field I just try to help our team win."
Murphy has done just that — in more ways than one.
Lady Aces make it 12 straight titles
Thursday May 31, 2012 12:00 am
Once again, there was just no stopping the Big Green Machine.
Locked in a 1-all tie with 9th District rival Apollo for five innings, Owensboro Catholic erupted for five runs over the final two innings to pull away with a 6-1 victory over the E-Gals in the 3rd Region Softball Tournament championship game before a full house Wednesday night at Daviess County High School.
Ninth-ranked Catholic (29-10-2) stretched its regional tournament winning streak to 36 games since 2001, while winning its 12th consecutive 3rd Region title.
The Lady Aces meet the winner of today's 15th Region championship game between East Ridge and Johnson Central in the opening round of the Rawlings/KHSAA State Tournament next Thursday at Jack C. Fisher Park."It's just amazing when you think about it," OCHS coach George Randolph said of his program's remarkable 12-season run of unblemished regional success. "Nothing comes easy in the regional tournament, and that was certainly the case this year in every game.
"We were challenged pretty seriously in this tournament, but these girls have really come a long way over the past month or so. They've matured, they've settled into their roles, and they've become a very mentally tough softball team -- and that's what it takes to win."
Catholic's Brittany Murphy and Apollo's Katelyn Knott were locked in a scoreless tie for four innings, but both teams broke through in the fifth.
In the top of the inning, Catholic got a one-out triple from Olivia Foster, who scored on a single by Brooke Payne to make it 1-0.
Apollo (21-18) responded in the bottom of the frame with an RBI single from Taylor Fenwick.
The Lady Aces, however, garnered some breathing room for Murphy in the sixth, getting a sacrifice fly to right field from Haley James and an RBI single from leadoff hitter Hayley Frey to make it 3-1.
The E-Gals continued to battle, however, loading the bases in the bottom of the sixth, but Murphy dug deep to retire Alyssa Barnett and end the threat.
Catholic broke the game open in the seventh. Kendyl Bahnick drew a one-out walk before Murphy hit a home run that hit the top of the center field fence and kept right on going. Frey added another RBI single to provide Catholic a five-run advantage.
Murphy then retired Apollo in order to wrap it up.
"I'm ecstatic," Murphy said afterward. "We've worked hard for this moment, and I'm just happy for everyone associated with this team. It's a great feeling to win the regional championship.
"I've worked really hard on my hitting, and it's always great to be able to help the team with your bat. My pitching wasn't at its best in this game, but I've got a great team behind me, and I just kept trying to throw strikes and get outs."
It was the end of the line for a game Apollo team that gave Catholic all it wanted.
"I'm extremely proud of our softball team," E-Gals coach Frank Stein said. "We played two solid games in this tournament, and we played a pretty good game here in the championship. Sometimes it's just a break here or a break there that makes the difference.
"This is a great group of girls, a fun group to coach, and I'm really going to miss the seniors. They provided a lot of leadership and were a big part of what evolved into a wonderful season for us."
OWENSBORO CATHOLIC 000 012 3 -- 6 10 3
APOLLO 000 010 0 -- 1 7 1
WP-Murphy. LP-Knott. 3B-Foster, Brown (OC). HR-Murphy (OC).
Lady Aces, E-Gals will play for title
Posted: Wednesday, May 30, 2012 12:00 am
and upstart Apollo
will have a go at it
one more time.
The Lady Aces used a
attack to turn back
13-7, and Apollo
broke open a
scoreless game with
a pair of runs in
the top of the ninth
inning to blank
County 2-0 in the
semifinals of the
3rd Region Softball
Tournament before an
Monday at Daviess
County High School.
Catholic, which beat
Apollo in two of
season, puts a
streak on the line
when it faces the
E-Gals at 6 p.m.
today for the
"We've had three
good games against
Apollo, and I
anything less in
this next one," said
OCHS coach George
program is shooting
for its 12th
"Apollo is playing
very well, but we
The Lady Aces
against the Lady
Mustangs, who had
leads of 3-0 and 7-5
overwhelmed them in
the late going.
"This team has come
a long way in terms
of learning that
you're never out of
the game," Randolph
said. "We responded
to some big
Muhlenberg, and it
shows how far we've
come during the
course of the
:"We played a tough
schedule at the end
of the regular
season and that's
paying off for us
here in the
(25-12) scored three
runs in the top of
the first innnig,
getting a sacrifice
fly from Kara Drake
and a two-run single
from Camrie Gray.
The Lady Aces
responded with three
runs in the bottom
of the first, thanks
in part to a pair of
MCHS errors. Kendyl
Bahnick and Brittany
Murphy produced RBI
shot in front 5-3 in
the second when,
with two out, Hayley
Frey singled and
followed with a home
run over the
The Lady Mustangs
battled back with
four runs in the top
of the fifth,
getting a two-run
single from Drake
and a tie-breaking
two-run double from
pitcher Niki Peveler
to go on top 7-5.
struck for six runs
on six hits with one
MCHS error in the
bottom of the fifth.
Murphy belted a solo
homer, Lillie Goetz
ripped a two-run
single, Payne had an
RBI single, and two
more runs scored on
an infield error.
The Lady Aces added
two more runs in the
sixth on RBI singles
from Liza Brown and
Murphy picked up the
pitching victory in
relief of starter
Jessica Carmon, who
was lifted one
batter into the
3-for-5 with three
RBIs and Frey also
had three hits to
Maddie Vincent had
three hits and Drake
drove in three runs
to pace an 11-hit
attack for the Lady
COUNTY 300 400 0 -- 7 11 3
CATHOLIC 320 062 x -- 13 16 1
LP-Peveler. 2B-Peveler, Dorris (MC), Barr (OC).
3B-Bahnick (OC). HR-Payne, Murphy (OC).
E-Gals, Lady Aces advance: Muhlenberg, Grayson also post
Posted: Tuesday, May 29, 2012 12:00 am
The 9th-ranked and
champion Lady Aces
surged to a five-run
lead through three
holding off the
Lady Bears down the
Muhlenberg County in
a 7 p.m. semifinal
"I liked the way we
came out aggressive
in the early going,"
said Catholic coach
whose program won
its 34th consecutive
game dating back to
2001. "Brooke Payne
and Lillie Goetz
have been hot
hitters for us, and
they stayed hot at
the plate today."
Catholic a quick
lead with a two-run
single in the bottom
of the first.
battled back to
slice its deficit in
half in the third,
getting a sacrifice
fly from cleanup
batter Hannah Peach.
But the Lady Aces
for four runs in the
bottom of the third
-- getting an RBI
single from Goetz,
an RBI fielder's
choice from Kendyl
Bahnick, a sacrifice
fly off the bat of
Lindsey Barr, and a
run-scoring hit from
Catholic added a run
in the fifth on a
sacrifice fly from
Hadley Shepherd to
make it 7-1.
The Lady Bears
back, however, in
eventually scored on
an outfield error.
With two out Jazmin
Reynolds pulled a
two-run double down
the left field line
to pull her team
within three runs,
before Payton Grubb
flied out to left to
end the game.
Brittany Murphy went
scattering 10 hits,
to earn the win.
Payne, Goetz, Hayley
Frey and James each
had two hits to lead
a 12-hit attack for
Drake went went
4-for-4 with a
double to pace
Butler County, which
also got a 3-for-4
Lady Aces looking to continue dominance
Posted: Monday, May 28, 2012 12:00 am
Nothing came easy
for the Owensboro Catholic High School softball team this
The perennially powerful Lady Aces lost not one, but two
games to 9th District teams during the regular season, and
generally looked vulnerable in April and the early portion
But that was then, and this is now; and Catholic no longer
appears to vulnerable — a troubling revelation to 3rd Region
Tournament opponents who will be trying to end the Lady
Aces' 11-season stranglehold on the event this week at
Daviess County High School.
"We've been playing our best softball of the season the past
three weeks," said Lady Aces coach George Randolph, whose
club has won 33 consecutive games and all 11 regional
championships since 2001. "We've raised our intensity level
considerably, we're coming to the ballpark hungry, we're in
the right frame of mind."
In a rematch of last year's championship game, 9th District
champion Catholic (26-10-2) tangles with pesky 12th District
runner-up Butler County (22-16) at 5 p.m. today. Also in
Catholic's bracket will be a 7 p.m. quarterfinal between
10th District champion Muhlenberg County (23-12) and All ‘A'
regional champion Hancock County (17-21).
The top half of the bracket will feature 12th District
champion and 18th-ranked Grayson County (28-6-1) facing 10th
District runner-up Ohio County (6-19) at 10 a.m., followed
by a noon matchup between 11th District champion Meade
County (22-15) and 9th District runner-up Apollo (19-17).
Catholic, which has won a record five KHSAA fast-pitch state
championships since 1998, needed to mature both mentally and
phsysically this spring to hit its stride, Randolph said.
"We've lost 13 seniors the past two years, so we have quite
a different makeup than we had a couple of seasons ago,"
Randolph said. "We're pretty young and inexperienced in
spots, and it took some of our players time to become
comfortable in their roles.
"Once all that got locked in, we had a group playing for the
team and not individually. That's what it takes. You've got
to get them to the point where they're asking, ‘What's best
for the team?' When that happens, you're on your way."
While Randolph says he can't point to a particular reason
Catholic has experienced so much success since the turn of
the millennium, one thread has run through virtually all of
"You have to play the game one pitch at a time, and if
something bad happens you have to let it go and move on to
the next play," Randolph said. "For the most part, we've
Regional play continues Tuesday with semifinal games at 5:30
p.m. and 7 p.m., with the championship game slated for 6
p.m. on Wednesday.
The regional champion advances to the 16-team Rawlings/KHSSA
State Tournament, set for June 6-9 at Jack C. Fisher Park.
After winning regional last year, Catholic lost to Lexington
Lafayette (11-8) and Ashland Blazer (7-6) in the state
• All seven regional tournament games will be streamed live
Balance reigns supreme in regionals
Messenger-Inquirer | Posted:
Sunday, May 27, 2012 12:00 am
In a season on
the diamond that has already produced a few surprises, more
could be in store this week.
On Monday, the
3rd Region baseball and softball tournaments begin in
Owensboro, and participating coaches believe an uncommonly
balanced field will be featured in both events.
Catholic, rising from a No. 3 seed to win the district
tournament in softball, will be attempting to win its
12th consecutive regional championship.
Catholic has won a jaw-dropping 33 consecutive 3rd
Region Tournament games, and has won every
championship since 2001.
surprisingly, the 9th-ranked Lady Aces are playing
their best softball of the season as they prepare
for play on Monday, when four semifinal games will
be contested at Daviess County High School.
(26-10-2), the 9th District champion, will battle
10th District runner-up Butler County (22-16) at 5
p.m., and Lady Aces coach George Randolph expects
this game to be one of several that will be highly
tournament is pretty balanced across the board,"
Randolph said. "This year's field is probably as
balanced as it's ever been. There are some very good
teams in the region this year.
happy where we are (in the draw), but we know
nothing will come easy. At this point, it's win or
go home, so we will be very focused on playing our
game to the best of our ability."
will play the winner of Monday's 7 p.m. game between
10th District champion Muhlenberg County (23-12) and
11th District runner-up Hancock County (17-21).
half of the bracket will feature a 10 a.m. game
between 12th District champion Grayson County
(28-6-1), the state's 18th-ranked team, and 10th
District runner-up Ohio County (6-19); as well as a
noon game between 11th District champion Meade
County (22-15) and 9th District runner-up Apollo
games are scheduled for 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. on
Tuesday, with the championship set for 6 p.m. on
9th District tourneys provided a buzz once again
Posted: Friday, May 25, 2012 12:00 am
Fans who didn't get a chance to attend either the 9th District Baseball Tournament or the 9th District Softball Tournament on Tuesday and Wednesday missed out on some dramatic action — as almost always, there were some terrific battles and eye-opening surprises...
The 9th District softball tournament, while running truer to form, nonetheless produced some inspiring and surprising moments.
Apollo played as the No. 1 seed — winning a three-way tie-breaker with No. 2 seed Daviess County and No. 3 seed Owensboro Catholic — but the E-Gals found themselves in the fight of their lives in Tuesday's opener, escaping a determined upset bid by No. 4 seed Owensboro, 4-3.
The Lady Devils didn't win a district game all season, but close observation revealed a much-improved team under the direction of coach Steve Strong, who led OHS to 15 victories and produced more runs in a single season than any previous Lady Devil contingent.
Still exceedingly young in spots, Owensboro held the lead as late as the fifth inning, before the E-Gals rallied for two runs to win a genuine tester.
Perennial state power and 9th-ranked Catholic, meanwhile, was razor-sharp in its 6-1 defeat of No. 20 Daviess County in Tuesday's opening round, but needed eight innings to post a 3-1 victory over Apollo in Wednesday's finale.
Both teams will compete in next week's 3rd Region Tournament at Daviess County High School, and it wouldn't be a major shock to see the Lady Aces and E-Gals playing for another championship.
2012 Messenger-Inquirer All-Area Softball
Posted: Friday, May 25, 2012 12:00 am
Lillie Goetz —
emerged as one of
western Kentucky in
speed and power to
make her a versatile
threat. "She's hit
the ball really well
all year for us, and
she's played a solid
second base," OCHS
Randolph said. "She
played 20 games for
us at shortstop last
season, and she's a
infielder with great
range and a strong
arm." Goetz had a
home run, 10 doubles
and stole nine bases
in as many attempts.
Haley James — Owensboro Catholic
James emerged as one
of the best
outfielders in the
3rd Region this
spring, exhibiting a
quick jump on the
ball, terrific speed
and a strong,
arm. "She's a solid
center fielder who
covers a lot of
ground -- she gets
to balls a lot of
players in her
position wouldn't be
able to get to,"
Catholic High coach
said. "She's just
now starting to come
into her own as an
Late in the season,
she turned it up a
notch and it made a
big difference for
Olivia Foster — Owensboro Catholic
The Lady Aces'
Foster had a monster
year at the plate in
2012 -- setting the
table for a Catholic
team that batted
.316 as a unit.
"She's been a very
OCHS coach George
Randolph said. "She
made a very
impressive jump into
the status as an
player, and it's
because of all the
extra work she's put
in to become the
best player she can
be." The speedy
Foster led Catholic
in hits (45),
triples (3), runs
and stolen bases,
swiping 14 bags in
Catholic tops E-Gals 3-1 in 8
Murphy back Carmon's pitching
It took 15
innings this season, but Owensboro Catholic High School's
softball team finally broke through against Apollo pitcher
After shutting out the Lady Aces 1-0 on May 1, the sophomore
right-hander blanked them for the first seven innings of
Wednesday's 9th District Tournament championship game.
Ninth-ranked Catholic, however, had an answer in the top of
the eighth -- getting a run-scoring triple from Lillie Goetz
and a two-run double from Brittany Murphy in a 3-1 conquest
of the E-Gals before a full house at Owensboro Catholic High
School's Parents Park.
Both teams advance to the 3rd Region Tournament, set to
begin Monday at Daviess County High School.
"That was a great game," said Lady Aces coach George
Randolph, whose program won its sixth consecutive district
crown. "Both pitchers (Knott and Catholic's Jessica Carmon)
were on their games, and it was just well-played all the way
"After we failed to score in the seventh, I told our team,
‘That's 14 innings in a row we haven't scored against
Katelyn Knott.' Fortunately, in the eighth inning we
adjusted a little bit at the plate and finally put some runs
on the board."
With one out in the top of the eighth, Brooke Payne drilled
a single to center field, and the left-handed hitting Goetz
followed with a slicing triple deep down the left-field line
that caromed off the glove of AHS left fielder Sarah Smith.
Kendyl Bahnick worked Knott for a base on balls, before
Murphy split the gap with an opposite-field double to
right-center to provide Catholic (26-10-2) a three-run
"We did a good job of going with the pitch in that final
inning," Randolph said. "If (Knott ) was going to continue
to pitch us outside, we were going to go the other way with
Apollo (19-17) did not go quietly in the bottom of the
With two out, Knott drilled a double to left-center and
Taylor Fenwick followed with an RBI single to right-center,
but Carmon induced Brook Robbins -- representing the
potential tying run -- to ground out to second base to end
"Gosh, that's the way high school softball is supposed to be
played," E-Gals coach Frank Stein. "Both teams came ready to
play, and it showed in the competitiveness on both sides. It
just doesn't get a whole lot better than a game like this.
The fans certainly got their money's worth watching this
"The momentum swung their way in the top of the eighth, but
we never stopped battling. I was so proud of the way we
responded throughout the game
"And, we're still alive. We're going to be playing someone
on Monday, and we'll be ready to go."
Carmon was superb throughout and survived a serious scare in
the seventh, when Sarah Smith drilled a single off Carmon's
hip flexor. Remaining in the game, Carmon then surrendered a
single to Emily Wilkerson, before a diving catch of an
infield flare off the bat of Kim Williams quelled the
"Jessica was sharp today," Randolph said, "and I was proud
of the way our girls just kept battling and battling. We
were in so many close games late in the season, I think it
helped us to remain calm and confident, and believe that
we'd finally break through in the end -- and we did."
Knott pitched well in defeat, allowing only seven hits in
her complete-game performance.
Murphy and Payne each had two hits to pace Catholic.
Wilkerson had a pair of singles to lead Apollo.
OWENSBORO CATHOLIC 000 000 03 -- 3 7 0
APOLLO 000 000 01 -- 1 6 0
WP-Carmon. LP-Knott. 2B-Murphy (OC), Knott (A). 3B-Goetz (OC).
Catholic, Apollo to play for
By Jim Pickens Messenger-Inquirer |
Posted: Wednesday, May 23, 2012 12:00
NIt was the
closest of calls for No. 1 seed Apollo, but it was business
as usual for five-time defending champion Owensboro Catholic
in the opening round of the 9th District Softball Tournament
on Tuesday before an overflow crowd at Catholic High's
The E-Gals turned back a valiant effort by upset-minded
Owensboro to win 4-3, and the No. 9 Lady Aces used the long
ball twice to take a 6-1 decision over 22nd-ranked Daviess
Apollo and Catholic, which split during the regular season,
play for the championship at 5:30 p.m. today.
In a matchup of state Top 20 teams, Catholic blended the
strong pitching of right-hander Brittany Murphy with superb
fielding and home runs by Lindsey Barr and Lillie Goetz.
"I thought we were solid all the way around," OCHS coach
George Randolph said. "Brittany's pitching was sharp, we
made some greta plays in the field, and the home run ball
helped us twice.
"I told the team it's not how you start the season, it's how
you end it. We're playing our best softball of the season
Goetz got the Lady Aces (25-10-2) started with an RBI single
in the top of the first inning, but the Lady Panthers
(21-16) battled back to tie it in the bottom of the same
inning when Hannah Tipton singled and ultimately scored on a
double by pitcher Caitlin Armstrong.
Catholic achieved some breathing room, however, in the
second. After Kendyl Bahnick and Murphy opened with singles,
Barr drilled a three-run homer over the left field fence to
make it 4-1.
Daviess County's Armstrong continually battled her way out
of jams in the middle innings, but the Lady Aces finally
caught up with her in the fifth when Goetz pulled a two-run
homer over the right field fence to provide Catholic a
Despite the season-ending defeat, DCHS coach John Biggs was
proud of his team's performance.
"Our kids battled all the way, which is kind of indicative
of our season, which was very successful and very fun top be
part of," Biggs said. "Catholic came out and hit the ball
well and kept the pressure on. We just ran into a very hot
"As long as the game was at 4-1, I felt like our chances
were pretty good. That was a big blow by Goetz to make it a
Murphy, meanwhile, kept DC at bay with an assortment of
off-speed selections -- limiting the Lady Panthers to seven
hits, and allowing no runs after the opening inning.
Barr and Goetz each drove in three runs to pace Catholic's
Tipton and Armstrong each had two hits for the Lady
OWENSBORO CATHOLIC 130 002 0 — 6 10 0
DAVIESS COUNTY 100 000 0 — 1 6 2
WP-Murphy. LP-Armstrong. 2B-Armstrong (DC). HR-Barr, Goetz (OC).
Lady Aces stage dramatic
comeback in 7th inning
By the Messenger-Inquirer | Posted:
Wednesday, May 9, 2012 12:00 am
Owensboro Catholic rallied for four runs with two out in the
bottom of the seventh inning to stun visiting Boonville
(Ind.) 4-3 in a high school softball game at Parents Park.
Brittany Murphy pulled the Lady Aces (20-10-1) within a run
with a two-run double, and Haley James followed with a
two-strike, two-run walk-off homer to complete the comeback.
Murphy and James each had two hits for Catholic, and Jessica
Carmon earned the pitching victory.
Boonville slipped to 16-4.
BOONVILLE (IND.) 003 000 0 — 3 6 0
OWENSBORO CATHOLIC 000 000 4 — 4 5 0
WP-Carmon. LP-Chapman. 2B-Murphy (OC), Chapman, Morton (B).
Catholic knocks off Gibson
By the Messenger-Inquirer | Posted: Tuesday, May
8, 2012 12:00 am
Catholic outlasted Gibson Southern (Ind.) 8-7 in high school
softball on Monday night.
The No. 10 Lady Aces opened the game with five straight hits
and scored four runs in Fort Branch.
Hayley Frey was perfect in four trips to the plate and had
two RBIs. Lillie Goetz was 3-for-3 with an RBI. Olivia
Foster was 3-for-4 with three runs scored. Brooke Payne was
2-for-4 with an RBI, and Brittany Murphy was also 2-for-4.
Lindsey Barr hit a solo home run for Catholic (19-10-1).
Gibson Southern, the No. 3 team in Indiana Class 3-A, fell
CATHOLIC 410 102 0 — 8 16 5
GIBSON SOUTHERN 102 400 0 — 7 9 0
WP-Carmon. LP-Wilzebacher. 2B-Murphy (C); Roberts, Spinkler
(GS). 3B-Foster (C). HR-Barr (C); Norris (GS).
Catholic clubs way past SHA
By the Messenger-Inquirer | Posted: Friday, April
27, 2012 12:00 am
went 4-for-4 to lead a 14-hit attack for No. 9 Owensboro
Catholic in a high school softball victory over visiting
Sacred Heart Academy on Thursday night at Parents Park.
Sacred Heart tied the game at 4 with three runs in the top
of the fourth inning, but Catholic (14-8-1) responded by
scoring one in the fourth, three in the fifth and one in the
Lillie Goetz went 3-for-4 for the Lady Aces, with teammates
Kendyl Bahnick and Maddie Ha gan each going 2-for-4.
Jessica Carmon scattered seven hits to earn the victory.
SACRED HEART 100 300 0 — 4 7 3
OWENSBORO CATHOLIC 220 131 x — 9 14 1
WP-Carmon. LP-Holden. 2B-Hammer, Nusbaum (SH), Bahnick 2,
Foster, Goetz, Carmon (OC).
Catholic wins 2 at Lafayette
By the Messenger-Inquirer | Posted: Monday, April
23, 2012 12:00 am
The bats came
alive for the Owensboro Catholic High School softball team
on the second day of the Lafayette 5 Star General tournament
on Saturday in Lexington.
Brittany Murphy smacked a bases-load triple and added a
2-run homer in the fifth inning as the No. 8 Lady Aces
defeated No. 13 Ashland Paul Blazer 9-2 in the first game.
Catholic beat Lakota, Ohio, 9-1 in the second contest.
Emily Woodward added two hits for the Lady Aces in the
opener. Jessica Carmon struck out four and picked up the
Murphy took a perfect game into the fifth inning of the
second game. She struck out four and gave up three hits.
Hayley Frey was 4-for-4 for Catholic. Emily Woodward had a
2-run double in the third.
Olivia Foster and Lillie Goetz finished with two hits each.
ASHLAND BLAZER 100 001 — 2 6 2
OWENSBORO CATHOLIC 510 03x — 9 8 1
WP-Carmon. LP-Hensley. 2B-Vanover (A); Shephard (OC).
3B-Murphy (OC). HR-Murphy (OC).
LAKOTA, OHIO 000 001 — 1 3 2
OWENSBORO CATHOLIC 206 01x — 9 13 2
WP-Murphy. LP-Moyer. 2B-Payne, Woodward (OC). 3B-Frey (OC).
Barr's big day leads Catholic
By Jake Jennings Messenger-Inquirer | Posted:
Thursday, March 29, 2012 12:00 am
A bad case of
butterflies wasn't enough to slow down Owensboro Catholic
High School softball player Lindsey Barr.
drove a three-run triple to right field in her first at-bat,
then smacked a solo homer to left in the sixth inning to
help the No. 4 Lady Aces top Daviess County 8-4 Wednesday
night at Parents Park.
in the first inning, along with a two-RBI double from
catcher Brooke Payne, helped Catholic (3-1) erase a 2-0
deficit built by the quick-starting Lady Panthers in a
9th District contest.
It was the
first home run for Barr, who transferred from Daviess
County to Catholic this year.
"I was pretty
nervous," she said. "I didn't know how it was going to
go. I almost hyperventilated before the game."
The Lady Aces
cranked out 11 hits.
was 4-for-4 and Payne finished 2-for-3.
start hitting, it's contagious," Foster said.
looked to be a slugfest early, but Catholic starter
Brittany Murphy and Daviess County's Alyssa Liebert
settled in on the mound.
teams were solid on the defensive end, leaving the game
to be decided by Catholic's firepower at the plate.
huge for us to be able to come back and answer their two
runs in the top of the first," Catholic coach George
Randolph said. "We hit the ball hard. We talk about
competing and playing every pitch and we've got to keep
battling until the last out."
County (4-4) added two more runs in the second, but the
Lady Aces scored one to made it 7-4.
Panthers had runners on in the sixth but left them
they got a lift from first baseman Marissa Massie, who
made a diving grab of a popped-up bunt try and snagged a
hard, line-drive shot down the first base line.
2-for-3 for Daviess County. Caitlin Armstrong also had
Hoesli and Caroline Armstrong doubled for Daviess
County, which finished with six hits.
a good hitting team," Lady Panthers coach John Biggs
said. "If you don't mix in some different speeds, which
we didn't do, they're going to sit on the ball. You
can't just rely on location. I'll take (the
responsibility) on that.
"I like this
group. They jumped on (Catholic) and scored a couple of
runs in the first inning, and we battled when they
wrapped up the early portion of their schedules with
spring break set for next week.
head out on its annual trip south on Friday. Daviess
County is off until April 6.
3-for-3 for Catholic. She said she struggled at the
plate last year as an eighth grader, and that carried
over into this season.
may now be at an end.
"She's got a
world of potential," Randolph said.
DAVIESS COUNTY 220 000 0 – 4 6 1
OWENSBORO CATHOLIC 610 00 1 — 8 11 2
WP-Brittany Murphy. LP-Alyssa Liebert. 2B-Natalie Hoesli
Caroline Massie (DC), Olivia Foster 2, Brooke Payne
(OC). 3B-Lindsey Barr (OC). HR-Lindsey Barr (OC).
Young Catholic players carry on
By Jake Jennings Messenger-Inquirer | Posted:
Tuesday, March 27, 2012 12:00 am
The No. 4
Owensboro Catholic High School softball team used much of
last season to get ready for this year.
The Lady Aces (3-1) lost 12 seniors over the past two
seasons, including their outfield and main starting pitcher
from last year's squad.
Catholic is young, but the new starters this year received
plenty of playing time during last year's run to the state
"We're young, but I feel like we're talented," Lady Aces
coach George Randolph said. "It's just a matter of getting
used to the varsity game."
Junior Jessica Carmon was one of Catholic's young pitchers
last year who split time with the graduated Andrea McBride
on the mound.
Brooke Payne, a senior, is back as a catcher, and the Lady
Aces are also using freshman Maddie Hagan behind the plate.
Haley James, a sophomore, takes over one of the outfield
spots after playing as a part-timer last season. Olivia
Foster, another sophomore, has also stepped up, Randolph
The mild winter helped Catholic get in a lot of work during
preseason, Payne said. That also helped get the new starters
Then there's the tradition the Lady Aces have built.
Catholic's winning legacy stretches over five state
championships. The Lady Aces dominated the 3rd Region for
over a decade and opened the new year third on the all-time
state win list at 522.
Payne was one of the newcomers herself two years, and that
provides more than enough motivation to put in the work to
keep the run alive.
Trying to live up to the standards Catholic has set can be
daunting at first, she said.
"They know what the expectations are," Payne said.
Catholic's tradition sets the bar high for the newcomers.
It's also a reminder for the upperclassmen.
"Each year, the girls don't want to be the ones that let
that end," Randolph said. "That's why they work so hard in
the offseason. They play with confidence. That's all they
have to do.
"They keep battling, and every time they step on the field,
they feel like they've got a shot to win."
Payne's homer keys Lady Aces'
By the Messenger-Inquirer | Posted: Saturday,
March 24, 2012 12:00 am
Catholic High School softball team got rolling when Brooke
Payne smacked a three-run homer over the right field fence
to spark the Lady Aces to a 7-1 victory over Owensboro on
Friday at Shifley Park.
Payne's blast in the fifth inning broke a 1-1 deadlock.
Payne had two hits, while Kendyl Bahnick finished 3-for-4.
CATHOLIC 101 303 3 – 7 10 1
OWENSBORO 000 100 0 – 1 4 2
WP-Carmon. LP-Strong. 2B-Willey (O). 3B-Carmon (OC).
Goetz leads Catholic to win over
By the Messenger-Inquirer | Posted: Thursday,
March 22, 2012 12:00 am
Lillie Goetz went
3-for-3, including two doubles, and drove in a run as the
4th-ranked Owensboro Catholic High School softball team
defeated Bowling Green 4-0 on Wednesday at Parents' Park.
Brittany Murphy tossed a one-hitter, striking out three
and walking one for the Lady Aces (1-1).
had two hits for Catholic. Emily Woodward smacked a
000 000 0 — 0 1 1
CATHOLIC 013 000 x — 4 7 1
Murphy. LP-Mackenzie Brumit. 2B-Emily Woodward, Lillie
Goetz 2 (OC).