SEASONS ON THE LINE/Bowling Green, Greenwood square off in KHSAA 14th District Tournament semifinal


They’ve toiled for the last two months, looking for an edge, building a team, in pursuit of a goal.

A KHSAA state title.

Spring sports championships will be coming fast and furious over the next couple weeks, starting with the KHSAA 14th District baseball and softball championships at Warren Central High School.

Last year’s 14th District baseball champions, the Warren East Raiders, have moved over to the Glasgow-based 15th District, where the tournament begins today at Barren County High School. Warren East is the KHSAA 4th Region leader in RPI, and the Raiders are taking a 23-7 overall record into Monday’s 15th District semifinal against Allen County-Scottsville (5-23 overall).

The winning squad will automatically qualify for next week’s KHSAA 4th Region Tournament, to be held at WKU’s Nick Denes Field. The losing team will have to pack its bags for the season.

The same stakes are on the line at Warren Central. Bowling Green High School (18-11 overall) squares off with crosstown rival Greenwood (21-7) in their 14th District semifinal, with a first pitch scheduled for 6 p.m. Following that game, No. 1 seed South Warren (24-7) will tangle with winless Warren Central, which has struggled with its numbers — aka, players available — over the course of a trying 0-21 season.

The same format applies in girls fast-pitch softball, and South Warren, which sports a 24-7 overall record, is that tournament’s No. 1 seed. The Spartans will face Bowling Green High School (2-20) in the second semifinal on Monday, following the tourney opener between Greenwood (15-12) and Warren Central (12-16).

South Warren made an amazing run to the KHSAA State Tournament in Lexington last year, winning 30 consecutive games before falling to Louisville’s Ballard High School, the eventual state champion, in semifinal play.

Barren County has the 4th Region’s best RPI in fast-pitch softball, and the Trojanettes (26-2) will play host to crosstown rival Glasgow High School in the first game of the 15th District Tournament. First pitch is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

The win-or-pack-it-in semifinal between tradition-rich Warren East (21-13 overall) and Allen County-Scottsville (12-15) will follow.

Meanwhile, in Bowling Green, there is plenty of intrigue in the Bowling Green-Greenwood game.

The longtime rivals met just two weeks ago, with senior left-hander Dillon Maners guiding the Purples to a 5-0 victory over Greenwood in the first game of the two-game series. Bowling Green would claim the No. 1 seed with a sweep of the Gators, but Greenwood right-hander Zach Davis fired a four-hitter to silence the Purples, 5-0.

That meant the two squads would play again, on Monday, but this time with higher stakes.

Bowling Green coach Nathan Isenberg said Maners (5-2, 2.34 ERA) will be his starting pitcher, but Greenwood’s Jason Jaggers has yet to name a starter.

“It’s going to be a game-time decision,” Jaggers said, “between Zach and a couple others. We’ve had good practices over the weekend. I like where our guys’ mindset is. I believe our team is prepared and confident heading into the postseason.”

Isenberg had plenty of holes to fill from last year’s 25-10 BGHS squad, including the void left by star shortstop/pitcher Patrick Forbes, Kentucky’s “Mr. Baseball” who is now an everyday left fielder for the University of Louisville.

Maners has been a tough customer for the Purples on the mound, but they’ve had trouble maintaining offensive consistency. Junior catcher/first baseman Ethan Madison has three of the team’s four home runs for the season, including a tape-measure shot over the 25-foot wall in center field in last week’s home victory over Warren East.

“We’re going to throw Dillon,” Isenberg said. “I think we’ve played a lot of close games, and a tough schedule, so that could work in our favor. Greenwood’s a very good team.

“You’ve got to go out and play, regardless. All three of us (BGHS, Greenwood and South) are pretty even so it likely will come down to who plays the best defense.”

In softball, Kelly Reynolds’ South Warren squad got ready for postseason play with three challenging non-district opponents last week — Barren County (26-2), Henderson County (26-5) and McCracken County (27-5). The Spartans won all three games, including a 2-1 decision over Henderson County.

South Warren has three standout pitchers — Layla Ogden (11-2, 1.48 ERA), Kendall Willingham (9-2, 2.82 ERA) and Courtney Norwood (7-0, 2.62 ERA). Freshman infielder McLaine Hudson (.640, 12 home runs, 43 RBI, all team highs), senior first baseman Katie Walker (.425, five home runs, 36 RBI) and Ogden (.400, nine home runs, 39 RBI) have been the Spartans’ offensive leaders.