Despite hitting a tying home run in the fourth and a go-ahead blast in the seventh to lead Kenton Ridge to its first district title in nine years, senior Paige McCrary couldn’t even muster a smile.
Because a little piece of her was still missing, lost in the dirt somewhere around home plate.
That’s where McCrary’s teammates mobbed her following the seventh-inning homer that sent the Cougars to a 4-2 victory against Western Brown in a Division II district final at Mason High School.
The celebratory head slaps were so enthusiastic they caused McCrary’s facemask to break off part of her left front tooth, which was why she was the only one not smiling when the team posed for photos with their trophy.
“I hit two home runs, so I guess it’s worth it,” McCrary said with a laugh before clamping her lips shut again. “I’m going to go get it looked at as soon as I can.”
Kenton Ridge (28-2), the No. 2-ranked team in the state, will take a 17-game winning streak into Thursday’s regional semifinal at Mason against Ross (23-5).
“It’s really exciting,” Cougars coach Sarah Ivory said. “Paige has been hitting the ball really well with a lot of good, level, hard swings. She’s just been really focused.”
Western Brown (18-8) jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a solo home run by Morgan Fischer leading off the second inning, but McCrary got Kenton Ridge even with a two-out shot in the fourth.
That’s how it stayed until the top of the seventh, when McCrary led off by launching an inside fastball that clanged off the fair pole in left field for her sixth home run of the year.
“I knew I hit it pretty well,” McCrary said following her second multi-home run game in eight days. “It just felt good.”
After McCrary’s teammates broke her tooth, they tacked on two more runs when Haley Dillon singled home Mykee Holtz and Monika Foster plated Elysa Mathews with a sacrifice fly.
And as it turned out, those extra runs were more than just insurance as Broncos No. 9 hitter Kristen York led off the bottom of the seventh with a home run to cut the Ridge lead to 4-2.
Cougars pitcher Courtney Lopez retired the next two batters, but back-to-back errors put the tying runs on second and third for Fischer, who had easily cleared the 198-foot fence in left in her first at-bat.
But this time Lopez got Fischer to sky a ball to shallow center that Learic Kinser squeezed for the win.
“Paige got us there, but Haley’s hit to add on was really big,” Ivory said. “We’ve done a good job hitting through the lineup this year, and the bottom half really came through day.”
Lopez allowed just five hits with four strikeouts and four walks to improve to 22-2.