North-Central tilt set for today in Princeton

Madisonville-North Hopkins’ Courtney Patterson, left, and Hopkins County Central’s Josie Menser are slated to face o at 6 p.m. Thursday as the Lady Maroons and Lady Storm are scheduled to play in the Seventh District Softball Tournament Finals at VFW Park in Princeton. Jesse Mayfield-Sheehan, The Messenger

MADISONVILLE — Any way you slice it, the Hopkins County Central softball team is playing with house money.

“Yeah, you could probably say that,” Central coach Kent Akin said with a wry grin.

Akin, the Lady Storm’s veteran coach, is stepping down at the end of the season to become Central’s athletic director.

Central’s District Seven championship game against crosstown rival Madisonville-North Hopkins was postponed on Wednesday because of wet grounds at Caldwell County High School in Princeton.

The two squads will try again on Thursday at 6 p.m. at Caldwell County. North (29-3) is the state’s second-ranked team and twice shut out Central (9-25) in the regular season.

“There’s not any pressure on us,” Akin said. “Our goal was to get to this (championship) game, and see what happens.”

Central reached the title game by defeating Caldwell County 10-6 on Monday. The next night, North eliminated Dawson Springs, winning 13-0 in five innings.

First-year North coach Shannon Peyton said he was “a little surprised” Central pulled off the upset, but added that the Lady Storm had shown steady improvement in the last two weeks of the season.

“We’ve won six in a row,” Peyton said. “Central hit the ball really well against Caldwell County.”

Akin will start freshman pitcher Josie Menser against the potent North lineup, while Peyton is still considering whether to start freshman Courtney Patterson or junior Mallory Peyton.

“I think I’ll go with Patterson, but I’m not 100 percent sure,” Peyton said.Central’s Brooke Murphy, a senior right fielder, had the big blow against Caldwell County. She delivered a two-run home run to right fi eld in the fifth inning, extending Central’s lead to 5-2.

“That’s the first home run we’ve had, as a team, all year,” Akin said.

The Lady Storm’s Maddie Tow went 3-for-4 with a double, and teammate Shelby Linville added a two-run single. Central had 12 hits in the game, four for extra bases.

North’s Kaylee Tow, the Lady Maroons’ center fielder and a University of Alabama commit, leads her team with a .520 batting average, 13 home runs and 40 RBIs. The Tow girls are cousins playing for opposing squads.

The regional tournament is scheduled to begin on Monday at Union County, and both Madisonville squads have already qualified for that tourney. Peyton is a little concerned about the weather forecast,which calls for more wet weather in Western Kentucky over the next couple days.

“If it gets pushed back any farther, I don’t think it helps anybody,” Peyton said. “We’ll just keep an eye on the forecast and do the best we can.”

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