When postseason play comes around, everything gets thrown to the side. Records, past results, history — all of that doesn’t matter once the regular season concludes.
That was in full effect Thursday night in the District 14 Softball Tournament championship game between Warren East and South Warren.
While the top-seeded Lady Raiders defeated the second-seeded Spartans twice in the regular season, South Warren flipped the script and put together an impressive all-around outing to earn a 12-2, six-inning win to capture its first district title since 2014.
“It’s been several years since we’ve had a district championship,” South Warren coach Kelly Reynolds said. “We have played the tough schedule for this purpose. We said all year long that we were working for postseason — that’s our goal. These girls have worked extremely hard and I could not be more proud of them.”
The Spartans (26-11 overall, 6-4 District 14) jumped out to a 3-0 lead before Warren East scored its first run in the bottom of the third to make it 3-1. A five-run top of the fourth for South made it 8-1 before a four-run frame in the sixth extended its advantage to 12-2 and sealed it.
SWHS knocked three home runs out of the park and took advantage of six WEHS errors to make for its high-scoring outing. Lexi Isable and Jess Bush both hit solo homers in the third, while Madison Stumbo recorded a three-run blast in the fourth.
Taylor Enlow, Caroline Pitcock, Paityn Pruitt and Emily Reynolds also recorded hits to round out the Spartans’ offensive stat sheet.
“Coach has always been saying, ‘It’s better late than never,’ and I agree 100 percent. This is the best time of the season to kick it in gear,” Isable said. “I couldn’t be any happier with my team.”
South Warren got going early, opening the game with a leadoff double from Isable and following up with Stumbo reaching on an E6, which allowed Isable to score and give it a 1-0 lead.
The Spartans had a quiet second inning but followed up with a strong third as Isable and Bush hit their respective home runs in back-to-back fashion to push the advantage to 3-0.
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Warren East (30-2, 9-1) responded in the bottom half of the frame with an RBI single by Hailey Hymer. With courtesy runner O’Brien Wilson on after Katie Gardner doubled, Hymer sent a pitch into the outfield and gave Wilson plenty of distance to cross the plate and cut the Lady Raiders’ deficit to 3-1.
That deficit was soon extended to 8-1 as South assembled a momentum-swinging fourth. With Pitcock and Katlyn Hare both on, Isable connected on a pitch and reached second on an E6 — and that sent both runners home to make it 5-1.
Then, with two others on, Stumbo sent her shot out of the park to make for a three-run bomb and put the Spartans up 8-1.
“Once our bats get hot they just keep going,” Stumbo said. “After that, there ain’t nothing you can do to stop us.”
Leading 8-2, South Warren scored four runs in the sixth with another two-run E6, a Reynolds RBI single and then another Warren East error to push its lead to 12-2 — and the Lady Raiders wouldn’t be able to overcome it.
“We out-hit them and we got run-ruled,” Warren East coach Philip McKinney said. “They’ve had a good year, but they’ve been playing really good the two weeks. You can’t take anything at all away from ’em, but we out-hit ’em and we got run-ruled.
The two sides now turn their attention to the Region 4 Tournament, which begins Monday at the WKU Softball Complex. The draw to determine the tournament bracket will be held Saturday morning.
“It gives us so much momentum,” Stumbo said. “I’m so ready for it — and I just know I have a good feeling about it.”