May 1st, 2018

No. 10 Holy Cross beats No. 11 Mercy

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Conor Revell

Staff Writer

No. 10 Holy Cross beats No. 11 Mercy
Mercy's Lexi Ray fouls off a pitch from Holy Cross' Carson Goatley / photo by Conor Revell

It was Mercy’s Lexi Ray in the circle, Holy Cross’ Dakota Young at the plate; the two best players in the Sixth Region, and the bases were loaded with the score tied at one and two outs in the top of the eighth.

Young laced a triple into center field that cleared the bases and the 10th-ranked Cougars hung on to defeat the host 11th-ranked Jaguars 4-2 in eight innings Tuesday night.

“I’ve thrown five games in the past six days so I’m a little gassed,” Ray said. “But, it was a 3-2 count and it’s hard to pitch somebody like that with a 3-2 count in the top of the eighth knowing that if I walked her they score a run or if she gets a hit, either way it’s going to be bad. She came through for her team.”

Before tonight’s game, Holy Cross (20-6) had only beaten their new rival one other time, three years ago in a 1-0 victory.

“We played as a team, we win as a team, and lose as a team,” Bella Velez said.

The rivalry is quickly becoming one of the best in Louisville, as this is the second straight year the game has gone into extras and four of the previous five meetings were decided by one-run.

“It was a great team effort,” Holy Cross head coach Tony Young said. “They went out there and played team ball. It’s our principal to play team ball. We’re a solid team up and down the lineup.”

Perhaps the advantage was Mercy (13-5) only having Ray, while Holy Cross has two pitchers to rely on.

“We missed a couple of spots in the eighth and had a couple of tough breaks,” Mercy head coach Greg Meiners said. “It was a full count and it’s tough to play against a good hitter like that and she made us pay. That’s what happened there.”

Mercy went up 1-0 in the first inning. Ray singled to center fielder Maddi Gailor who bobbled the ball allowing the UT Martin signee to get to second-base. Mia Coles laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Ray to third.

Ray scored on a Ryan Hobbs groundout.

The Cougars tied it at one in the fourth inning when Bella Velez hit a solo bomb to right field.

“I missed my spot,” Ray said. “She hit it hard and props to her; it was a really good hit.”

Both teams had opportunities to go ahead, but neither could convert.

“We could have scored a couple of more runs,” Meiners said. “I always say if we get three runs we often win, if we would have scored three runs before the seventh inning, we would have won tonight. We didn’t do that and we let too many first pitch strikes go by. That was one of our problems. We had some inexperienced players out there tonight and we were getting behind.”

In the eighth, Meiners chose to start each inning with a runner at second base.

“That was my choice, home team choice,” Meiners said. “I did that because I don’t want to wear out my pitcher. I’m going to choose eight innings every time. That’s part of it. At least when you’re home, you know how many runs you have to get, and they got three runs.”

With Maddie Emerson at second, Gailor hit an infield single to move the runner to third. Velez was intentionally walked with two outs to load the bases.

Young then blasted the game winning triple.

“I can’t hit without my team,” Dakota Young said.

But, Velez had to escape the eighth. Jinhee Walsh started at second, moved to third on Ray’s groundout, and scored on Cole’s RBI base hit.

Carson Goatley started on the rubber for the Cougars and tossed four innings and gave up one run, four hits, struck out three, and walked one.

“My team did a great of backing me up with their defense,” Goatley said.

Velez pitched four shutout innings in relief and allowed one run, three hits, and struck out one.

“Our pitchers did a solid job pitching tonight for our team,” Tony Young said.”

Ray pitched all eight innings for the Jaguars and gave up four runs, seven hits, struck out eight, and walked two.

“We learned that we have to be more ready to play,” Meiners said. “We have the best pitcher in the region, there’s no question in my mind, and she’s one of the best pitchers in the state. I know she did her part tonight, our hitters have to do their part.”

It was a special night for Ray, as she went up against her cousin, Shalon O’Bryan, who is only a freshman, and got her out twice including a strikeout.

“That was fun,” Ray said of facing her cousin. “For her at-bat, I gave her a little sign. She’s just a freshman and she’s going to have a great four years at Holy Cross.” 


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