HARD KNOCKS: Carroll County coach Dennis Hawkins (right) checks on pitcher Sara Hawkins after she took a line drive back to the circle off her right leg in the third inning of Monday’s 4-3 loss to Gallatin County. The junior right-hander stayed in the game. “She’s got a knot on her leg that is terrible ... But the way it looks, it looks like she is OK other than being sore,” (Staff photo by Mark Campbell)
HARD KNOCKS: Carroll County coach Dennis Hawkins (right) checks on pitcher Sara Hawkins after she took a line drive back to the circle off her right leg in the third inning of Monday’s 4-3 loss to Gallatin County. The junior right-hander stayed in the game. “She’s got a knot on her leg that is terrible ... But the way it looks, it looks like she is OK other than being sore,” (Staff photo by Mark Campbell)
Gallatin County belted two solo home runs - including a game-winning shot by Hannah Dossett in the top of the seventh inning - to outlast Carroll County 4-3 in softball Monday in Carrollton.

The outcome, which came in the opening round of the North Central Kentucky Conference tournament, was sadly all too familiar to Carroll head coach Dennis Hawkins.

Hawkins' Panthers have played Gallatin three times this season and lost all three by identical 4-3 scores in three separate tournaments.

"We've played them three times and it's been the same score every time. The only difference is the other two were extra innings and this time it's just in regulation," Hawkins said. "But until we can get over that hump to play a near perfect game we're not going to win close games like this."

Gallatin scored a run each in the first, third, fifth and seventh innings while Carroll scored a run in the fourth and two in the fifth to knot the game 3-3 after five innings and put the two teams on what looked like another collision course with extra innings.

Carroll worked out of a jam in the top of the sixth when Gallatin had runners at first and second with only one out but Gallatin answered by retiring the Panthers in order to send the contest into the seventh still knotted 3-3.

The Lady Wildcats had hit Carroll pitcher Sara Hawkins sharply all game - including a leadoff solo homer by Kelsea Satchwell over the right field fence in the third inning and a line drive back to the mound by Hayden Seng one out later that struck the Carroll pitcher in the leg and knocked her to the ground for several minutes.

So with Gallatin's Hannah Dossett coming to the plate with one down in the seventh, coach Hawkins signaled his battery to give the Wildcats' No. 3 hitter something different in an attempt to throw Dossett off her game.

"I led (Dossett) off with a changeup - I was trying to mix it up," he said. "We were hoping we could get her to pop it up or something but she hit it over the fence ... You never know what to do. You know you can sit and second guess yourself all night long."

Part of the problem was the lingering effect of Sara Hawkins being hit in the earlier inning. The Carroll ace was a little off her game. Coach Hawkins said Sara Hawkins turned in a gutsy performance to keep playing on the sore leg but her velocity suffered and she was elevating pitches a lot more than normal.

"The changeup was up too high but she normally keeps it down," the coach said of the pitch Dossett drove over the center field fence. "That's one reason I was trying to mix it up because she wasn't keeping her pitches down."

"They're tough," Coach Hawkins said of Gallatin. "They have five or six hitters that are tough."

And while Gallatin's hitting ultimately won the game, the shot Sara Hawkins took combined with Carroll's occasionally suspect defense and base-running were contributing factors.

"That was a big blow," Coach Hawkins said of Seng's line drive in the third. "That hurt her change-up. It made her lose a lot off her pitches. That might have made the difference but we had the opportunity to win the game if we'd scored some runs and if we'd made some plays."

Gallatin wasn't perfect either but the Wildcats were able to limit the damage Carroll could inflict.

Carroll scored it's first run in the fourth thanks to a one-out error on a ball hit by Jenna Roberts and a Brittany Yocum bunt that Gallatin tried to go to second on only to be late and put runners at first and second. Haley Dermon's double to center field off Gallatin starter Danielle Nichelson plated Roberts, but just when Carroll was starting to roll the Wildcats doubled up MacKenzie Ogden's fly to left by catching Yocum off third.

Carroll County's two-run fifth inning benefited from a one out error on a ball hit to the center field fence by Kelsey Ogden that was followed by a run scoring single to center by MacKenzie Hawkins. Michaela Culver then sacrificed Ogden to third where she scored on a blooper to center by Sara Hawkins.

"I was really happy with the way we started off batting because we were making (Nichelsen) bring the ball to us," Dennis Hawkins said. "We were getting a lot of walks and we weren't swinging at her garbage. I thought that was a big plus."

But in the end, Gallatin once again had just enough to deny the Panthers just as they had in the Oldham County Spring Break Classic on March 28 and the All "A" Classic Eighth Regional on April 13. The Wildcats are now 13-1 with the only loss coming in the All "A" state finals 7-2 to Glasgow.

"Hopefully, we'll get them again in the district and hopefully next time things will be different," Coach Hawkins said. "But if we don't make the plays, it's not going to turn out different because that team there you just can't make any mistakes against."

For now Carroll (8-9) will travel to Conner today before visiting Owen County on May 3. How Sara Hawkins recovers from the shot she took to her right leg Monday could weigh heavily on how Carroll manages the upcoming road games.

"We're lucky today because it could have been a lot worse. We've got to go to Connor tomorrow and I don't know how she'll be then," Coach Hawkins said of his junior right-hander. "She's got a knot on her leg that is terrible. We'll ice it and I'll take a look at it in a little bit. If we think there's any damage we'll probably get it checked out. But the way it looks, it looks like she is OK other than being sore."

Pirates' Alli Webster fans 17 Cubs to beat Madison
Charlestown's Alli Webster struck out 17 as the Madison Lady Cubs varsity softball team lost 6-0 to the Lady Pirates on Monday at Charlestown.

Charlestown struck in each of the first four innings, scoring three runs in the first and one run each in the second, third, and fourth to pick up the win.

Webster's 17-strikeout-night led to only two Madison hits in the game. Bree Barnes and Brooklyn Smith each had singles.

"We didn't have much discipline at the plate tonight and that was disappointing." Madison head coach Tony Ralston said. "We are better than that but we didn't have good mental approach to their pitcher. Don't get me wrong she was good but if you are swinging at pitches outside the strike zone it makes her way better than she was tonight."

In addition to her performance inside the circle, Webster also led the Lady Pirates offensive attack going 3 for 3 with two RBIs and a run scored. Shelby Goedeker went 2 for 2 with two RBIs and a run scored.

Kaitlin Brown was tagged with the loss for Madison. Brown pitched five innings, giving up six runs - five earned - on 11 hits while walking one and striking out two.

Hannah Bickers pitched one inning of relief, walking one and striking out one.

Madison (9-6, 1-2 HHC) hosts Columbus East today in a Hoosier Hills Conference clash.

Jennings County shuts out Rebels 7-0 in Hanover

Jennings County scored in every inning but the second and pulled away for a 7-0 softball win over Southwestern Monday in Hanover.

The visiting Panthers scored two runs in the first, two in the second and solo runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth inning for the final margin.

Southwestern, meanwhile, managed just four hits although it left four runners on base in the first two innings, including the bases loaded in the second.

"That's been the story of our season. We just can't seem to get the hits when we need them," Southwestern coach Duane Ralston said. "We've been playing pretty well here lately, we just can't find any hits."

Austin Courtney had a double while Tyler Smith, Shaye Geer and Michela Brown added singles.

Emily McCane took the loss for Southwestern in the circle. McCane allowed only four earned runs on 11 hits in six innings. She struck out one and walked three.

Southwestern (1-14) hosts New Albany today.