Pirates win 14th region championship
It has been six years, but the wait is worth it.
The Powell County Pirates baseball team, a regional favorite all season, completed a near perfect run in region play this season by capturing the 14th Regional Championship in impressive fashion.
Coming off a shocking 8-2 defeat in the 56th District Finals against archrival Estill County, the Pirates got back to the goal they had set since falling in the first round of the regional tournament last year. Make it to the state tournament.
Powell beat Breathitt 5-3 in the region’s first round of play. Then topped last year’s champion, Letcher Central, 4-1.
The championship game was a rematch of the district finals.
But this time Powell left no doubt as to whom the champion was. Powell exploded for a 10-2 victory and earned a trip to the Whitaker Bank Ballpark in Lexington for this week’s KHSAA State Baseball Tournament.
Powell enters the state tournament with a 30-11 record. They were 17-1 in region play. It is Powell’s third regional baseball championship and the second for Powell Head Coach Chris Varney.
Powell’s first title came in 1977 when Charlie Childers was the coach. Varney captured a title in 2006 when his team beat Leslie County 5-4. In those years the regional winners played in a sectional tournament before the final eight teams made it to the state tournament. The new format began in 2010.
However this year all 16 region winners will meet in Lexington to play in the state tournament. The format matches what basketball has been doing for decades and differs only slightly from softball because the girls play in a double elimination format.
Powell was set to play Woodford County in the first round. The Yellow Jackets surprised the 11th Region by beating Dunbar 3-1 and Madison Central 3-2 before demolishing Bryan Station, thanks to some Defenders errors, 19-5.
“This is the first time in the state tournament in our school’s history. The 11th region is as tough as any to get through and we are humbled by the opportunity,” Woodford Head Coach and former major league pitcher Jeff Parret was quoted as saying.
The Yellow Jackets have a team batting average of .296 and have a total of 273 hits while scoring 209 runs this season. Their ace pitcher is Logan Parrett with a record of 7-1 and an earned run average of 1.44. Over all the team’s ERA is 2.17.
Powell counters with a team batting average of .356. The Pirates have scored 309 runs this season on a total of 368 hits. The team ERA is 2.42. ON the hill Powell’s ace is Frank Spencer with a perfect 9-0 record and 2.10 ERA. But Joey Johnson and Billy Hatmaker are part of the rotation and can be quite effective. Johnson has an ERA of 1.80, while Hatmaker allows an average of 2.25 runs per game.
As for Woodford’s game plan, “Scoring more runs than our opponents would be a big help,” Parrett stated in comments for the KHSAA before starting the tournament. “Our only expectations are to play hard, care for each other, and have fun.”
Varney has a more direct approach. “This will be our first time playing in the state tournament in Lexington,” he added. “We have to make sure we start well.”
(Late Monday Powell fell to Woodford 4-3 after tying the game 3-3 in the top of the seventh inning. Powell finished the year at 30-12.)