The Powell County Lady Pirates took second at the 56th District Tournament last week in Irvine. Powell had four players make the 56th District All-Tournament Team, they were (l to r): Nellie Noble, Emily Branham, Erika Howard and Chloe Billings.
Photo by Hope Caldwell Branham
The Powell County Lady Pirates entered the 56th District Tournament last week at Estill County after a short two game skid to end the regular season. But tournament time is an entirely different situation. However, just a year ago Powell exited the tournament early at the hands of Lee County.
Their opening round opponent this year. Lee County.
Powell opened the game in the bottom of the first inning tacking on two runs. Emily Branham reached base on an error and moved to second on another error. A base hit by Erika Howard moved Branham to third, who then scored on a wild pitch. Howard moved to second and scored on a single by Haleigh Bauer. Powell led 2-0.
The score stayed that way until the fourth when Lee scored. Hallie Land hit a one out double to left centerfield and then stole third base. And scored on a ground out by Lindsey Wolf. The score was 2-1.
Lee added another run to tie the game in the fifth. Back to back singles by Lauren Perdue and Gabbey Kirby led off the inning for the Bat Kats. then with two outs a costly error allowed Perdue to score the run, making it a 2-2 game.
In the top of the seventh, after Powell had stranded a runner on third base the previous three innings, Lee took the lead. With two outs Emily Reed doubled center field and went to third on an error in the outfield while trying to field the ball. A throwing error trying to pick her off on third allowed Reed to score. Lee led 3-2.
Powell had been struggling most of the game at the plate. So Coach David Faulkner decided to take a chance on small ball. Following a walk to Brooklyn Smith, the number nine hitter, Branham put down a bunt and beat it out to first base. Olivia Nickell put down another bunt and reached base on an error to load the bases. Howard hit a short ground ball, but Lee got Smith out at the plate.
But the Lady Pirates hit a small streak of luck. Branham scored on a wild pitch to tie the game at 3-3. Lee then walked MaKayla Rucker to reload the bases. In a surprise move to some, but not the Lady Pirates, Bauer put down a bunt. The Lee infield tried to get the force out at home, but the throw was bobbled and dropped. Nickell scored and Powell won 4-3.
That set up the championship game last Wednesday with Estill County. The game was scoreless until the third when the Lady Engineers scored twice. They added two more in the fifth to make it 4-0. Powell scored twice in the top of the sixth after Branham and Nickell reached base on a ht and and error respectively. Rucker drove them both in with single to center.
That is when the wind went out of the sails so to speak for Powell. Leading 4-2 Estill scored eight more, thanks to key hits, some walks and three errors in the inning. Estill took another title, 12-2.
Chloe Billings, Powell’s senior pitcher, joined fellow senior centerfielder Nellie Noble on the All-District Tournament Team. Junior third baseman Emily Branham and senior second baseman Ericka Howard also made the team.
Powell advanced to the 14th Region Softball Tournament held this week in Estill County. The first round was slated for Memorial Day. Powell drew 54th District Champion Perry Central in the opening round. Due to deadlines, the story was not available at press time. The Times will have a story on the tournament next week.