The march towards a state championship took a giant step forward for the Pendleton County Ladycats as they claimed a 1-0 shutout victory over ninth region champion Dixie Heights on June 1 at Frank Ignatius Grein field on the campus of Northern Kentucky University.
Eighth grade starting pitcher Kayley Bruener continued her dominant postseason run inside the pitching circle as she threw a complete-game five hitter in shutting out the second-highest scoring team from the ninth region and blanking Dixie Heights for the first time since April 13. Bruener registered seven strikeouts to notch her 18th win of the season.
The Ladycats scored the lone run of the contest in the third inning as seventh grader Avery Himes leadoff with a single. Following a sacrifice bunt and groundout that moved her to third base, she would score moments later on a passed ball that eluded the Dixie Heights catcher to put Pendleton County ahead 1-0. From then, it was all Bruener, as she retired nine straight batters along the way and got some timely defensive gems from her teammates to secure the first state level victory in program history.
Raegan Carlisle and Kylie Richardson each collected two hits each to led the offense. Following the win, head coach Mary Pettit spoke of her clubs continued growth and unwavered confidence.
"These girls show absolutely no fear and they approach every game with the confidence that they can compete with anyone. Today, our defense was outstanding as we made several key plays that stopped them from getting momentum. I'm so happy that they will get to experience playing at the University of Kentucky. There are girls on this team who will play one day on the collegiate level and this will be a great opportunity to showcase their talents," Pettit said.
Pendleton County will take on fifth region champion Central Hardin, who will enter the game with a 34-7 record on June 7 at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington. According to KHSAA, the game times will be announced Saturday evening.