RACELAND – East Carter and senior sensation Montana Fouts polished off a 16th Region softball threepeat with flair Friday night.
The Lady Raiders mowed down all three of their opponents by 10 runs, capped by an 11-1 victory over Boyd County at Raceland Softball Complex.
“Outstanding all-out effort by everybody,” East Carter coach Derek Calhoun said. “The three teams we beat were three of the better teams we played all year. I can’t say enough about these girls. When you score a lot of runs behind Montana Fouts, you’re going to win a lot of ball games.”
Fouts, named the tournament’s MVP by media members, put on a pitching and hitting extravaganza throughout the event. On Friday, the Alabama signee tossed a two-hitter and crushed a grand slam onto U.S. 23 to highlight her team’s seven-run fifth inning.
“I didn’t see it (bounce on the highway),” Fouts said with a big smile. “They told me it did. I just tried to hit it hard after my last at-bat.”
Fouts, who drove in six runs, struck out to end the fourth — the only time she was retired all week. For good measure, Fouts launched another long ball in the seventh inning on Friday to give her a tournament-record four homers in two days. Ashland walked Fouts all four times in the opening round, including three intentionally.
“Insane, she’s unhuman,” said Louisville-bound East Carter second baseman Eden Mayo. Boyd County coach Dave Wheeler offered his own thoughts.
“I think Montana is the best player in the state, maybe the best pitcher in the country when it’s all said and done,” Wheeler said. “East Carter’s having a great run.”
Mayo struck out a dozen Lady Lions after tossing a perfect game against Ashland and limiting Raceland to three hits.
“Montana’s a great pitcher,” said Lady Raiders junior catcher Caroline Young. “She always comes through. We trust each other and she’s definitely made me a better catcher through the years.”
East Carter heads to Owensboro next week with a 37-0 record. The Lady Raiders’ first-round opponent in the double-elimination state tournament is Butler, a 1-0 winner over Mercy in the Sixth Region final.
“There’s no better way to go out,” Mayo said during the team’s celebration. “When we were younger, we talked about it. To do this three years in a row, it means so much. We really stepped up the hitting in this tournament.”
Leadoff batter Taylor Jackson singled three times, scored twice and drove in a run against the Lady Lions.
Young had two hits, including a two-single.
The Lady Raiders’ tough lineup got a break, facing Boyd County senior Brooke Layne less than 24 hours after she threw 180 pitches in a 10-inning semifinal win over Russell.
East Carter scored twice in the first inning on Fouts’ RBI single and Emily Goodman’s bases-loaded walk on the 14th pitch of her duel with Layne.
Boyd County made it 2-1 in the bottom of the inning.
Fouts uncharacteristically walked two batters and Layne singled up the middle to score Graci Borders. The score remained that way through four innings.
“I’m really proud of way Brooke battled,” Wheeler said. “We were in the ball game through four innings. That says a lot about her and this team.”
The fifth inning got off to a rocky start for the Lady Lions and became only worse. An outfielder slipped down while waiting to make a catch, resulting in a triple for Mayo.
Boyd County then made three errors on a couple of bunts, allowing the floodgates to open. Ultimately, Fouts’ slam made it 9-1.
“They capitalized,” Wheeler said. “I think East Carter really has a shot to win the state tournament.”
Fouts retired 13 consecutive batters after Layne’s run-scoring single. Layne also had Boyd County’s other hit in the seventh.
The Lady Lions finished 28-10.
“I’m very pleased with my program,” Wheeler said. “I don’t think many people gave us a chance at the start of the season to be here. Our girls grew as people and learned how to compete at a higher level.”
All-Tournament Team (Selected by media)
East Carter: Montana Fouts (MVP), Eden Mayo, Caroline Young, Taylor Jackson, Graycee Castle. Boyd County: Brooke Layne, Maddie Lowe. Raceland: Morgan Curley, Cameryn Davidson. Russell: Haven Layne, Makayla Fraley.