Aces set for All 'A' opener

The Owensboro Catholic High School baseball team and the Hancock County softball squad will look to bring home trophies this weekend as the two programs compete in their respective All ‘A’ Classic small-school state tournaments.

The Aces (16-5) will open against Walton-Verona (14-6) at 9 a.m. CST Saturday at Eastern Kentucky University, with the semifinals and championship tilt slated for Sunday. Meanwhile, the Lady Hornets (14-6) will play a trio of pool-play games at Jack C. Fisher Park in Owensboro. The top two finishers in each of the four pools will then advance to bracket play Sunday.

Last season, Catholic dispatched St. Mary 9-0 in the All ‘A’ opening round before falling 5-4 to Walton-Verona in 10 innings. Now, the Aces find themselves taking on the 8th Region champion Bearcats for the second year in a row.

“Walton-Verona is very good,” said OCHS head coach Jody Hamilton. “They beat us in 10 innings last year, and they’ve got two really good pitchers. We’re going to have our hands full, and coming out of prom (Friday), we’ll see how it goes.”

The Bearcats are led on the mound by Mason Howard (1.06 ERA, 34 strikeouts in 33 innings) and Bronson Corpus (1.83 ERA, 37 strikeouts in 23 innings), along with a productive offense that sits 10th in the state with 158 runs batted in, 14th with 189 runs, 19th with nine home runs and 21st with a .332 team batting average.

The Aces will counter with a pitching staff that includes Luke Quinn (1.22 ERA, 17 strikeouts in 28.2 innings), Ben Hyland (1.75 ERA, 22 strikeouts in 24 innings) and Jaxson White (3.98 ERA, 21 strikeouts in 19.1 innings). Catholic, which is 22nd in Kentucky with a .331 team batting average, is paced offensively by Eli Blair (.400, 21 RBIs), Brady Atwell (.387, 23 runs, 22 RBIs, five triples), Deuce Sims (.296, 14 RBIs), Parker Heistand (.386, 17 RBIs), Christopher Burns (.367, 11 RBIs), Houston Flynn (.296, 23 runs, 22 stolen bases) and others,

“We’ve just got to play baseball,” Hamilton said. “First of all, we’ve got to throw strikes and give our guys a chance to field it. ... It’s just one of those things where we’ve got to go play.”

On the softball side, Hancock County will square off against Covington Holy Cross (10-5) at 10 a.m., followed by matchups against Somerset (8-13) at 1:30 p.m. and against Raceland (20-4) at 5 p.m.

The Lady Hornets are led by pitcher Lily Roberts (1.10 ERA, 155 strikeouts in 76.2 innings), while Baylee Estes (.429, 20 stolen bases), Ella House (.314, 14 RBIs), Audrey Carnes (.452, six RBIs), Kylie Westerfield (.412) and Layni Roberts (.350, 11 runs) paces Hancock County’s offense.