What a record year.
The Lady Raiders softball team made history for East Carter by finishing fourth at state.
“With a small school like we have, I think they did a great job. I couldn’t be more proud of all of them,” said Assistant Coach Tim Fouts.
The Lady Raiders finished the season 41-2.
They had a .366 batting average, .470 on base percentage, 29 home runs, 86 stolen bases and .972 fielding percentage.
In four years, they were three-time 16th Region champions, finished in the top half of the State tournament all three years, and had a win loss record of 141-15.
Their third attempt at a state title started Thursday night. It was a long weekend playing six games in three days, four of them on Friday.
“They are an exciting group of girls and they just love playing the game,” said Coach Derek Calhoun.
They stormed through the first game Thursday night against Butler 2-0 behind Montana Fouts’ 12 strikeouts.
Taylor Jackson and Eden Mayo drew walks and Graycee Castle loaded the bases hitting a grounder to shortstop Kennadi Thompson in the first inning. Despite having bases loaded, they were unable to knock anyone in.
Gracie Robinson changed that in the second inning. She brought her bat warmed up and ready to go. Her single to centerfield punched in Emily Goodman.
“She had a big hit there for us, got us a jump start there and we ended up scoring the second run at the next at bat,” said Calhoun.
Not only did she knock in Goodman, she loaded the bases for a second time.
Fouts drew the walk and sent home Jackson for the second run.
It wasn’t over for the Lady Bearettes just yet. They battled their way through the losers bracket to get a second chance at the Lady Raiders Saturday morning.
After a night’s rest, the Lady Raiders returned to the field for their second game against Warren East.
A slow start put them behind two runs.
Hailey Hymer came swinging. She hit a double to center field in the first at bat of the game and Kelsey Sparks reached first on a passed ball. A bit of confusion allowed her to advance to second while Hymer took third.
A sacrifice bunt by Lucy Patterson sent Hymer running home and a second sacrifice by Katie Gardner drove home Sparks.
Fouts put an end to the top of the first by striking out Olivia Price.
Jackson drew a walk as the Lady Raiders lead off.
A sacrifice by Robinson and a ground out to first base by Fouts put Jackson in scoring position. Eden Mayo punched her in with a single to second base, Kya Elkin.
The Lady Raiders’ defense settled down and held Warren to just two runs, but the offense was unable to make up for the first inning ultimately falling 2-1 to Warren East.
The Lady Raiders had three hits and left six on base. The remaining hits were made by catcher Caroline Young and Goodman.
The loss knocked the Lady Raiders into the losers bracket making for a long night.
They started their second game about 2:30 p.m. and played two more games that lasted past 11 p.m.
In their next game they defeated Marshall County, 3-0.
Fouts threw another 13 strikeouts and got the Lady Raiders on base for their first run.
Carra Layne, as a courtesy runner for Fouts, was knocked in by Graycee Castle to give them a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning.
Goodman and Olivia Sturgill, pinch hitting for right fielder Lindsey Holmes, both drew walks in the fifth inning. Robinson followed up with a line drive down the third baseline for two RBIs.
In the third game of the day against Clay County, it came down to a close call.
The Lady Raiders were up 1-0 after Jackson scored on a single to left center by Fouts in the third inning.
It was the bottom of the seventh and the score remained 1-0.
Clay County’s Lauren Smith led off with a double to centerfield and advanced to third when Ellie Finley ground out to first base.
Caroline Young, catching for Fouts, let a pitch slip past her during Hailey Napier’s at bat, but quickly scurried to recover the passed ball and make the throw to Fouts. Fouts caught Smith sliding into home in the knick of time.
“I try not to get anything behind me. That’s one of the first this year to get behind me with a runner on third. I had to do everything I could to get back there and get the out,” said Young.
Napier ground out Robinson at third base and the Lady Raiders lived to fight another game.
Fouts was now at 297 pitches for the day, had pitched 38 strikeouts, 50 for all three games and had pitched four complete games.
She wasn’t done yet despite Coach Fouts wanting to give her some rest.
Coach Fouts announced after the Lady Raiders’ final game that this will be his last year as assistant coach of the Lady Raiders. He is ready to just be a dad.
He wants to thank the entire community of Grayson for all their support during his time as assistant coach.
“I really appreciate the whole community, the school, the coaches and all the kids and parents who have made this such a great experience,” said Fouts.
Montana Fouts entered the last game without any doubt. She pitched another 7 innings and 14 strikeouts without thinking twice.
“I honestly didn’t feel (sore) until I was back at the hotel. I was just telling myself I had to get it done for my teammates,” said Fouts.
The Lady Raiders were determined not to lose after losing in this very same game last season against Daviess County. They had lost to East Jessamine in the second game of the tournament.
They were running on adrenaline at this point and fueled by the desire to not lose.
In the second inning, Madison Sparks drew a walk as lead off and was punched in with a double to right center by Goodman.
In the third inning, they knocked in three more runs. Fouts hit one into left field to drive home Jackson and Robinson, and Castle’s chip into left field knocked in Layne, running for Fouts.
Young singled to third base to get things going again in the fourth. Hannah Williams, a courtesy runner for Young, was knocked in when Robinson reached first on error.
They scored the last four runs in the sixth inning. Holmes scored when Robinson ground into a fielder’s choice. Fouts’ single to right center knocked in Robinson, and Castle closed out the night by hitting a double to right center to punch in Layne and Mayo.
The Raiders had an outstanding 13 hits. Jackson, Fouts and Young were each 2-for-3 at the plate and Castle was 3-for-4. Castle and Fouts each had 3 RBIs.
A well-deserved rest and the Lady Raiders were back at it by 9 a.m. Saturday to face Butler for a second time.
They were fighting more than exhaustion.
Fouts pitched the first inning but due to a tight shoulder was relieved for the first time all tournament.
“She was determined to start this morning but when I asked her to call a pitch and she didn’t really want to throw that pitch, I knew it was time,” said Coach Fouts.
Tears were shed as Fouts walked out of the circle for the last time and was replaced by Ryleigh Jobe.
“It was a little nerve wracking at first but I trusted in my team and knew they were behind me. I just want to come in behind Montana and support what she has already done,” said Jobe.
Jackson and Mayo had each been struck by multiple pitches. Mayo was not only fighting a bruised leg but also a sore shoulder and Jackson was removed from the game in the six inning.
Jackson was a trooper. She was battling the remnants of strep throat all weekend and playing in the heat was taking a lot out of her. She was still able to get her job done as the Lady Raiders’ lead off.
“I know as a lead off hitter my job is to get on base. I trust my teammates to move me over to score a run so I try to do everything I can to get on base whether it is getting a walk, getting hit or taking a hit. I am doing everything in my power to get on base,” said Jackson.
She was 7-for-16 at the plate, had two RBIs in the last game against Butler, scored five runs, drew three walks and was hit by four pitches.
East scored first in the third inning.
Jackson got on with a single down the left baseline. Robinson hit a double that would have knocked in Jackson but was called back to third base when the ball bounce over the fence and out of play.
Jackson was tagged out at home but Robinson scored on a single up the middle by Castle. A sacrifice fly by Sparks knocked in Laney Miller, pinch running for Fouts.
They put up two more runs in both the fourth and fifth innings.
Mayo and Jackson both hit a line drive down the left field line to bring in two runners each.
Mayo connected with a pitch in the fourth to knock in Jackson and Robinson. Jackson did the same in the fifth to punch in Goodman and Sparks.
It wasn’t enough to hold off the hungry Butler Bearettes.
The Bearettes kept things even by scoring two runs in the third inning before falling behind by four runs in the fourth and fifth.
They scored three runs in the fifth to cut into the gap but did not take back the lead until scoring three more in the sixth inning.
The Bearettes advanced to play Warren East but were defeated 9-3. Warren East was mercied 10-0 in a rematch to Scott County in the State Championship. Warren East took Scott County to 13 innings in a game that ended 2-1 but were too spent to put a fight in the finals.
Fouts and Robinson were awarded All-Tournament team.
Fouts pitched 542 pitches before being relieved on Saturday. She struck out 64 batters and gave up only 18 hits.
She was 5-for-17 at the plate, had 4 RBIs and drew four walks.
Robinson was 5-for-18 at the plate, had 3 RBIs, scored four runs, hit two doubles, and drew two walks.