LEXINGTON — Russell County's Nathan Lawson faced the daunting task of trying to contain one of the top offensive line-ups in the state on Thursday at Kentucky Proud Park. The senior rose to the occasion.
Lawson allowed just three hits — and no walks — as the #17 Lakers (29-6) topped #14 Madison Central (28-8), 2-1, in the opening round of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association State Tournament.
Central scored more runs this season than any other team in the 11th Region — 285 — and averaged more than eight runs a game. The Indians had also scored 10 or more runs 10 times. Against Lawson, they never got on track. Hayden Robbins singled in the first inning, but was stranded. In the second, Gunnar Rhodus reached on an error and Matthew Bryan was hit by a pitch before Lawson got a strikeout and a pop out.
The Russell County senior retired the side in order in each of the next two innings. Central finally broke through the fifth. Bryson Howell blooped a double into right field and Daniel Bauer delivered an RBI single which got the Indians within a run. Central got runners on in each of the final two innings — both on hit by pitches — but could not get the tying run home.
"They made all the plays," Roof said of Russell County. "I thought our hitters did a good job of putting the ball in the play and making contact. They made the plays." Bradley Poynter started for Central and went four innings, allowing seven hits and two hits while striking out four. Matt Johns worked the final two innings. He gave up just one hit and struck out three.
The loss brings an end to an unexpected postseason run for the Indians. Central was not ranked in the preseason polls and was not considered a threat to win the 11th Region title. Led by six seniors — Bryan, John Girard, Dylan Hatfield, Howell, Johns and Robbins — the Indians got back to the state tournament for the third time in the past seven seasons (2015, 2018, 2022), "If my kids grow up to be like any of those guys, I would be a happy dad," Roof said of his seniors. "I think they are going to go on and be great citizens in the community. It's a special group." By: Nathan Hutchinson
Class of 2022: John Girard, Dylan Hatfield, Bryson Howell, Matt Johns, Hayden Robbins