The Russell County 14U softball all-stars are Junior League state champions.
The all-stars clinched the Junior League Kentucky title with a 17-4 victory over Letcher County on Tuesday.
“There’s no other feeling like it, I’ll tell you that,” coach Tonya Rexroat said of winning the state championship.
RC roared back for the big win after losing to Letcher County 5-4 in a close game on Monday, which forced the “if necessary” game of the double-elimination tournament.
“They underestimated their opponent,” Rexroat said. “At this stage, you can’t underestimate anyone. They just thought they were going to cruise through. That was what we first discussed after Monday’s loss, that you can’t underestimate anyone because it could be anyone’s day. We didn’t play our game the way we play it, but I told them that a loss can be good. It can make you refocus, hone in on things that are really critical that we needed to work on.
“We had a little scare there, having to come back and play on Tuesday,” she added. “But they came back in good fashion and got a little revenge.”
With a 15-0 win against Henry County and 18-2 victory over Letcher County on Sunday, RC scored 33 runs and only allowed two runs on the first day of action. Throughout the tournament, the team scored 54 runs in four games, “which is pretty darn good,” Rexroat said.
The coach said her players’ experience and competitiveness helped the team make it to the next level. Nine of the 13 players on this squad were part of the state title 12U team last season.
“These players are super competitive and have been in high-pressure games,” she said. “We hope to make a run for a regional title.”
The next step for the team is the Junior League Softball Central Regional in Pendleton, Indiana. The tournament is set for July 21-24.
While the bracket is not yet finalized, there could be up to 13 teams in the tournament, all comprised of state champions from within the region.
In 2019, the Russell County junior league team advanced to the region championship but a team from Kentucky has never won, something this year’s squad is hoping to change.
“We’re excited to take another group back,” Rexroat said.
The team has multiple fundraisers coming up to support the players’ trip to Pendleton. On Friday, the team will host a taco salad fundraiser at the Community Center on Main Street in Russell Springs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Delivery is available for lunch pre-orders by calling 270-585-2808 anytime between now and noon on Friday.
A delivery option is available on 10 or more orders, and lunch pre-orders can be called in for delivery or pick-up.
The meal includes taco salad and bottled water, with extra condiments by request: jalapeno peppers and onions. The cost is $7.
Then, on Saturday, the team will have a car wash fundraiser from 8 a.m. until noon at FiveStar in Russell Springs.
“The community really supports us during these times,” Rexroat said. “I know they’ll get behind us like they always do.”
If the squad is able to win a region championship, the team will advance to the Junior League Softball World Series in Kirkland, Washington.
“We’ve got a chance to make that happen,” Rexroat said. “That’s their goal. That’s their dream.”
The team’s roster includes:
• Addy Abrell
• Chezney Burton
• Kaelyn Campbell
• Carigann Carpenter
• Camdin Cooper
• Nevaeh Duncan
• Brylie Jo Hardwick
• Addison Hart
• Mickenzie McClure
• Rylen McGowan
• Miley Rankins
• Jaylee Roy
• Madelyn Roy
The team is coached by Rexroat, Brian Cooper, and Reggie Roy, as well as help from Sophie Shearer and Emma Popplewell.