For The Beacon
Boyd County softball was eager to hit the field this year following a 25-win season that saw the Lady Lions claim their second straight 64th district championship.
Head coach Dave Wheeler was set to begin his third year with the team. His roster was filled with youth, but led by three seniors: Olivia Mulhearn, Sophia Smith, and Chloe Watts.
As could be expected, the cancelling of the 2020 season was frustrating.
“It’s aggravating to an extent, because the kids have worked hard to put themselves in that position,” Wheeler said. “I mean hey, we were going to be pretty good this year.
“We were going to be young, but we were getting after it.”
Each senior brought something a little different to the table.
Mulhearn brought a powerful bat to the Boyd County lineup. In 36 games played as a junior, Mulhearn posted a .364 batting average with a team-high three home runs and 42 runs batted in.
“She really came into her own last year,” Wheeler said. “She had a really strong junior year.”
In 107 at-bats, Mulhearn struck out just 11 times. She also recorded 39 hits, with 12 of those resulting in extra bases.
One of her best performances of the season came in mid-May, when Boyd County was hosting a doubleheader on a Saturday afternoon with games against Belfry and Montgomery County.
Mulhearn went a combined 6-for-7 in those two affairs, hitting a home run and notching seven runs batted in. She also hit three doubles.
This season looked to be fruitful for Mulhearn, who had made some sacrifices in other sports to have a stellar last season.
“She gave up basketball to concentrate on having a really good senior year and softball season, and it didn’t happen,” Wheeler said.
Much like Mulhearn, Boyd County senior Sophia Smith was looking toward a big campaign.
A utility player last season for the Lady Lions, Smith entered 2020 ready for an expanded role with the team.
Wheeler described Smith as “a great kid who wants to do well, she was a program player and had been in the program a long time.”
Smith starred in 35 contests for Boyd County the season prior, and flashed her abilities at the plate and on the base paths in several games.
In an 11-1 win vs Lynn Camp, Smith went 3-for-3 with a double and three runs scored.
Against Elliott County, a 12-1 Lady Lions win in five innings, Smith was 2-for-2 with three runs scored and two stolen bases.
Smith also came up clutch for Boyd County in their 6-5 win against Russell, hitting a solo home run.
“She was going to get a chance to have a really solid senior season, and you end up losing it to this pandemic,” Wheeler said.
Boyd County’s third senior on the roster was also set to play a big part in the success of the Lady Lions.
Chloe Watts was the second pitcher in Boyd County’s rotation a year ago, and was slated to pitch some big games for her team this season.
“She did a really good job as far as working hard,” Wheeler said. "Last year she went in as the number two pitcher in the program.
“This year she was going to get a chance to go out there and be the one.”
Watts went 5-5 as a pitcher, logging 60.2 innings pitched. She started nine games and appeared in 18 in the circle, amassing a 3.46 earned run average.
The Georgetown College signee posted several solid games statistically - she struck out six and allowed just three hits in a 7-1 win against Mason County, and fanned six Fairview batters in a two-hit outing against the Lady Eagles.
“This is a kid who has worked really hard to get in this situation, and it is fortunate that she is going to get the chance to go on and play [at Georgetown],” Wheeler said.
Watts also had some big games at the plate - she hit three doubles in a 5-3 win against Lawrence County.
Her time representing Boyd County might not be over just yet: she was selected to play in the East-West Senior All-Star Game in July if it is still held.