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Getting the Green light: Musketeers, Lawrence shine after early-season adversity, enter 63rd as No. 1 seed

Greenup County’s season got off to a rocky start.

In the first game of the season on March 17, the Musketeers were outmatched against Lawrence County, 20-1, at home.

The next day, head coach Mike Diller was relieved of his duties and Jaclyn Holmes stepped in as the interim coach to guide the team through what could have been a challenging year for the Musketeers.

The team proved they were up to the challenge.

As the scene pivots to the postseason, Greenup County boasts a 19-8 record and has claimed the No. 1 seed in the 63rd District Tournament.

“It was all the girls’ doing,” Holmes said of the team’s success this season. “They realized the situation wasn’t ideal, but it is what it is. They knew it was time to work. They put in the work and just turned everything around.”

One of the main focal points for Greenup County this season was the concept of “We not me,” as the team came together as a collective to focus on the tasks at hand.

One of the key components for the team togetherness was the leadership on the field.

Front and center in that leadership group is senior Skyler Lawrence, who said the “We not me” mindset made all the difference for this squad.

“It completely changed our whole mindset,” Lawrence said. “As soon as we got that mentality, we realized that we were playing for more than individual stats or just winning a game. We were playing as a team that wanted to make changes at Greenup County and make history.”

The determination has shone all season with the Musketeers, especially with Lawrence.

The senior slugger has a batting average of .539 and leads the team in hits (41) and home runs (12).

“With all that our team went through, coaching changes and drama, I felt like I had to be the one to step up and take these younger girls under my wing,” Lawrence said. “Doing that, I had to step up and I felt like I had a lot to prove to them in that role. I think that had a lot to do with how I’ve played this year.”

Lawrence played her entire career at Greenup County with older sister Kaylie, who graduated last year. Even though the two are on different fields now, the support is still there.

“I wouldn’t be who I am without my sister,” Skyler Lawrence said. “We always had this healthy competition. and now, with her supporting me from college and me supporting her from down here, it’s pushed both of us. I really feel like I had a lot to prove. I wasn’t just little sister Lawrence. It’s really changed my mindset.”

The coaching staff has taken notice of Lawrence’s efforts, on and off the diamond.

“She’s just a special player,” Greenup County assistant coach Deven Vanbibber said. “Not just on the field but off it as well. She’s a captain that these young girls look up to. She’s a huge part of the success of this team, who’s stepped up in every way she could.”

The Musketeers’ coaching staff has come together as well. Holmes says her ability to navigate such an uncertain season is due to the people around her.

“I couldn’t have done it without the other coaches,” Holmes said. “I give them loads of credit. They understood the program and how it was being run and they just allowed me to come in and be a part of this team, as did the girls.”

Greenup County will need everyone on the club to work as one now that the postseason is here, especially with the opportunity to do something special.

The Musketeers have never won a 63rd District championship, after moving from the 62nd District in 2006. The team hasn’t won a 16th Region title since 2000.

Everyone at Greenup County understands the difficulty in making these dreams a reality. The Musketeers won three straight district games in walk-off fashion a few weeks ago, including a 10th-inning blast by Lawrence to defeat Lewis County. Greenup County faces the Lions in the first round of the district tournament on Tuesday at home.

“We’re grateful to have the No. 1 seed, but we know it won’t be a cakewalk,” Vanbibber said. “Lewis County has played us twice already and they’re a good team. We’re in a tough district. But we’re just focused on taking things one game at a time and taking care of business as we can.”

Lawrence agrees that success will come only through hard work, focus, and determination.

“We’ve learned all season that, when we play a good team, they’ll take advantage of anything we give them,” Lawrence said. “Any mental error, they’ll be there to take advantage of it. So we have to work really hard. We know that we haven’t made the region tournament since 2014 and we want to change that.”

To change its fortunes, Greenup County will have to put in the hard work necessary to get past Lewis County.

The Lions have fallen to the Musketeers twice this season. Lewis County finds itself without Emily Cole commanding the circle for the first time since 2018.

Cole led the Lions to four straight 63rd District titles. The Lions have had plenty of ups and downs this season, finishing the regular season with an 11-15 record. Lewis County has just three wins in the 16th Region and none in the 63rd District.

The winner of Lewis County-Greenup County will face the winner of Tuesday’s first game between Raceland and Russell.

Russell enters the district tournament for the first time under head coach Destiny Goins, who spent the last three years at Raceland.

Goins’ first regular season with the Red Devils ended with a 20-9 record and a 4-2 district mark, including a split series with the Rams this year.

In a tale of two games, Russell won the first game, 8-6, but lost the second on April 18 by a wide 20-3 margin in six innings.

The Rams led the region with 27 wins under first-year coach Scott Adkins.

Russell will look toward big hitters Lili Smith (.537) and Paige Hutchinson (.470). Audrey Patel holds a 4.05 ERA in the circle.

Raceland’s Davanna Grubb (2.08 ERA) has been a centerpiece for the team in the circle but will need production from hitters Kali Vance (.515), Shelby Gauze (.462), and Lili Poplin (.433).

The 63rd District championship is scheduled for Wednesday at Greenup County at 6.