The Daviess County softball team has put itself in position to challenge for a state championship, and the Lady Panthers’ first challenge will be against Louisville Ballard in the opening round of the KHSAS State Tournament in Lexington.

The No. 9 Lady Panthers and second-ranked Bruins will battle at out at 10 a.m. (CT) at the University of Kentucky’s John Cropp Stadium.

“Ballard is traditionally one of the elite programs in the state,” Daviess County coach John Biggs said. “They play a very competitive schedule, facing the best teams in the state. They also had to advance from a very strong 7th Region, so we have to play our A game to be successful.

“It’s a great opportunity to play at such an awesome venue — many of the girls have sat in the stands and watched games there, hoping to one day have this opportunity. But we’re not going to get caught up in the venue; we’re going there to take the next step and advance.”

Daviess County, which topped Hancock County 12-2 in Tuesday’s 3rd Region Tournament championship game, brings a 31-6 worksheet into the state tournament, having won its last eight in a row.

Western Kentucky signee Abby Newman, a senior shortstop, leads DC with a .490 batting average. She also has 17 doubles and 33 runs scored,

The Lady Panthers also feature booming bats in sophomore first baseman Jessie Daniels (.482, 11 HR, 44 RBIs) and junior catcher Millie Roberts (.415, 11 HR, 44 RBIs), who has committed to Auburn. DC has a team batting average of .333.

On the mound, Daviess County has a potent 1-2 punch in senior Greysee Whiteker (16-3, 1.28 ERA) and burgeoning sophomore Raylee Roby (13-3, 1.64 ERA).

“Both of our pitchers have had outstanding seasons,” Biggs said. “Their styles complement each other well, they know they have a solid defense behind them, and this allows them to pitch with a lot of confidence — really, they’ve been great all year for us.”

Ballard (31-3) comes into the state tournament with tons of momentum, having won its last 15 games in succession. The Bruins’ most recent defeat was 1-0 to Greenwood on May 8 in the Best of the West event in Bowling Green.

The Bruins, who advanced to state by defeating Louisville Male 8-3 on Monday for the regional title, are led by first baseman Macy McCoy, who bats .406. Other top hitters include infielder Emory Donaldson (.371, 46 runs), infielder Mikayla Milby (.355, 10 2B, 9 HR, 31 RBIs), infielder Imari Golden (.380), and catcher Hayleigh Gnagie (.361). As a unit, Ballard is batting .334.

In the pitching circle, Ballard is led by the tandem of Brooke Gray (17-2, 0.67 ERA) and Mak Grimes (13-1, 1.56 ERA).

DC and Ballard did not meet during the regular season.

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