December 29th, 2017

No. 3 story of 2017: Mercy softball and their stunning turnaround

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Conor Revell

Staff Writer


No. 3 story of 2017: Mercy softball and their stunning turnaround
Mercy's softball team with the Sixth Region title trophy / photo by Conor Revell

The Louisville Catholic Sports Network has chosen its top 10 stories of 2017 and is posting them in a series starting Dec. 19 with an honorable mention list. LCSN will have a story each day with the exception of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We will run our top story of the year Dec. 31st.

Mercy’s softball team didn’t necessarily win a state championship, but their team had perhaps the most shocking run of all in the 2017 calendar year.

Going into the season, the Kentucky Softball Coaches Association picked the Jaguars to finish seventh in the Sixth Region.

Well, this team wasn’t even going to settle for a seventh place finish in the state let alone their own region.

Sure, I was one who didn’t think Mercy would come back the way they did. After all, the Jaguars failed to make it out of 24th District Tournament the year before.

With Lexi Ray in the circle and seniors Melissa Collins, Riley McCormick, Amber Reed, Jordyn Sanders, and Abby Wilder leading the way, the Jaguars embarked on an incredible journey posting a 30-12 record.

“This team was so special because of the love we have for each other,” an emotional Collins said. “These past four years have been the best. I would have never wanted to spend it anywhere else with these girls. I hope the younger ones can continue on what we started and finish it the way we were supposed to.”

Mercy won the 24th District championship, captured the Sixth Region Tournament title in dominating fashion, and beat the No. 1, the No. 3, and No. 14 ranked teams in the double elimination state tournament to finish tied for fifth-place in the state.

“I’m going to remember what great leaders these seniors were,” Ray said. “They were always positive no matter what the situation was or whether we won or loss.”

Yes, a team voted to come in seventh in their own region, ended the year tied for fifth place. Only four teams had a better finish than the Jaguars in the entire state.

“After the Butler game, I had a parent come up to me and say that I doubted you guys in the beginning because of what happened last year,” Wilder said. “I don’t think many people expected us to be where we are today but deep down I knew and I think my teammates knew that we were going to come out here and show everybody what we were made of.”

And, their run came to an end in heartbreaking fashion.

Shelby Nunn and Madilyn Daughtery delivered RBI singles and South Warren took a 2-0 lead in the top of the 14th. Nunn got Ray to ground out to the pitcher to the end the game in the bottom of the inning.

“I’m going to remember how we stuck in there for Lexi and we weren’t going to let it end until the last out,” Wilder said. “It was absolutely amazing how everybody was still excited in the bottom of the 14th-inning and believed we were going to win. It just didn’t go our way but hey we left it all out on the field.”  

Ray threw 453 pitches that day and tossed 557 pitches in a 28 hour span.

“I was jetting on Lexi,” Mercy head coach Greg Meiners said. With me being her coach, I kept on checking in with her and asked her numerous time if she wanted to come out because I’m responsible for her health but she didn’t want to come out. She’s a true warrior.”

You see Mercy stunned top-ranked Woodford County 7-2 in the first round and then turned around 12 hours and got whooped 12-0 by second-ranked Madisonville-North Hopkins.

“I wanted to play great teams while we were here,” Meiners said. “Madisonville absolutely blitzed us and I told our team that I wanted to see what we were made of. McCracken is a great program and I told our girls let’s put a positive note at the end of the state tournament. I was just absolutely thrilled at how we played and proud of how we gutted out that win. The blowout loss can be really demoralizing.”

The Jaguars could have folded, but no, they turned around and beat third-ranked McCracken County 5-3, and defeated No. 14 Central Hardin 1-0 in nine inningd, and then saw their run end against South Warren.

Sure, Mercy’s softball team didn’t win a state title like a number of Catholic school teams did, but their team easily made the most surprising run of all. 

 

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