Kuhn leads Barboursville girls to state
HUNTINGTON -- Two hand pounds and a couple kicks with the feet.
Every time Haley Kuhn strikes out a batter, she's greeted by her fellow Barboursville infielders in the pitcher's circle. And every time, she gives each of those teammates two hand pounds and a couple kicks with the feet.
Call it superstitious. Or tradition. Or just a simple luck thing.
On Wednesday, it was a routine gesture.
Kuhn threw a one-hitter, registering 13 strikeouts and allowing only one run to give the Barboursville age 9-10 Little League Softball All-Stars a repeat trip to the state tournament with its 12-1 win over Wayne in the District 1 title game at Hite-Saunders.
Barboursville, which won the state title last year, will begin its quest for another next week in Petersbug, W.Va.
In the second game Ona/Hite-Saunders defeated League 3/Vinson, 6-2, with Tori Kelley as the winning pitcher. Wayne will take on Ona/Hite Saunders at 6 p.m., Thursday, at the Enslow Middle School field in the District 1 runner-up game. That winner will also advance to the state tournament.
"Mission 1 is accomplished," said Barboursville coach Steve Hardin. "Now, we're hoping to represent District 1 really well in the state.
Not a bad thing to hang your hopes on. Especially when Kuhn is commanding the strike zone like she was on Wednesday. The right-hander went through the Wayne lineup about as quickly as her signature fastball would get to the catcher's mitt.
In the first inning, it took Kuhn all of 11 pitches to set Wayne down in order -- all by strikeout. Kuhn never faced more than four batters in an inning. A ball wasn't put in play until the third inning.
It was a dominating effort.
"Excellent pitching," Hardin said. "She has been our No. 1 all year. We have four good pitchers but she's our No. 1. And she threw extremely well today. She threw hard like we knew she could and just really kept their hitters in line."
It was that sizzling heater that seemed to give Wayne batters the biggest of fits.
They just couldn't quite keep up.
"Oh, yeah," Hardin said. "That's a huge advantage because a lot of kids have a hard time catching up with it.
"And she usually has a really good change-up. When she has that going, she's usually unhittable.
"A really good pitcher."
Who had plenty of help Wednesday.
By being patient at the plate and quietly putting the ball in play, Barboursville set the tone early by scrapping together five runs in the top of the first inning. McCalla McIntosh, Gretchen Mills, Trinity Casto and Gracie Hightower all collected RBIs in the frame.
Barboursville added four more runs in the second inning, highlighted by a Jenny Hardin RBI double, to set the finish on cruise control.
Hardin went 3-for-4 and Kuhn, McIntosh and Hightower all accounted for a pair of RBIs.
"We got several girls to make good contact," Coach Hardin said. "We can play small ball. We run the bases really well."
Whitney Samson earned Wayne's only hit in the fourth. She scored its only run, too.
BARBOURSVILLE 540 03 -- 12 10 0
WAYNE 000 10 -- 1 1 4
Kuhn and Mills. Noe, Samson (2), Self (4) and Booton.
Hitting: (B) Hardin 3-4, 2B, RBI; Kuhn 2-4, 2 RBIs; McIntosh 2-3, 2 RBIs; Mills RBI; Casto RBI; Hightower 2-3, 2 RBIs.
LEAGUE 3/VINSON 2