Highlands and Dixie Heights win tight games in 9th Region Softball Tournament semifinals

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune Sports Journalist

The first four games of the 9th Region softball tournament were all won by 10 or more runs, but there was much more suspense in the doubles semi-final on Monday when Highlands edged Cooper, 3-1, and Dixie Heights passed Ryle, 2-0, at Notre Dame Academy.

The winners will face off in the region’s championship game at 5 p.m. Tuesday with a berth in the state tournament on the line. Eleven days ago, Dixie Heights beat Highlands, 5-2, in the final week of the regular season.

Highland junior pitcher Kennedy Baioni (Photo from Facebook)

Highlands (25-14) won two district playoff games and one region without giving up a run. The Bluebirds nearly recorded another shutout in the region’s semifinals, but Cooper (25-11) scored a run in the final inning against winning pitcher Kennedy Baioni.

Cooper had nine hits, compared to just three for Highlands. The Bluebirds scored three unearned runs in the first two innings and Baioni protected the lead with help from her teammates. Cooper left seven runners on base during the game.

A two-run single by Highland junior Carley Cramer in the first inning started the scoring. The Bluebirds made it 3-0 on a single by eighth grader Cam Markus in the second inning.

Junior Cooper pitcher Kendall Blau allowed just one hit in the last four innings, but the Jaguars couldn’t get a run until the seventh.

Game 2 of the semifinals was a pitching duel with Dixie Heights sophomore Riley Hopkins picking up the win on his team’s fourth straight shutout. Hopkins was in the circle for three of those shutouts and senior Bri Pastel pitched the other.

The Colonels scored both runs against Ryle’s sophomore pitcher Maddie Goddard in the sixth inning. The first came after a pitching error and Taylor Ingram’s brace in the second inning.

Dixie Heights (23-6) had eight hits with Pastel at 3-for-3, including a double. Ryle (19-15) finished with six hits and was shut out for just the fifth time in 34 games this season.

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