Moments before her game-changing moment, Butler’s Kyndal Tinnell committed a throwing error at third base that let Daviess County tie the most important game of her life.
“That was not what I wanted to do, but I definitely came back from that one,” Tinnell said.
The senior’s chance to redeem herself came with the bases loaded and two out in the top of the sixth inning just after Butler retook the lead 3-2 in the KHSAA Softball State Championship game at the University of Kentucky’s John Cropp Stadium.
That’s when Butler’s hottest hitter of the postseason connected on a grand slam that sent the yellow ball flying to the berm outside the fence in left-center and brought the fans and the dugout to a roar.
“I was making sure I hit it square,” Tinnell said. “We had to get on it. It was big, but I was not expecting to do that.”
Butler went on to win the school’s first state softball title 13-2. Tinnell was named the tourney’s most valuable player.
“Going into this season, I did not expect us to come this far,” Tinnell said. “I’m glad we came together as a team throughout this season. We fought. We cheer each other on. We played as a team and it paid off. It’s great to be a part of a team that did it.”
Tinnell had 11 hits in 15 postseason at-bats, a .733 average, with 15 RBI, including going 3-for-5 with six runs knocked in Sunday in the championship game.
“Kyndal Tinnell is amazing,” Butler Coach Brittany Braun said. “She’s a kid that if we had a game tomorrow — she’s in the gym after winning. She’s just worked and worked and worked.”
It was a win and a season dedicated to the memory of the Madelynn Troutt, a 17-year-old cheerleader and friend who died in a head-on car collision with a stolen truck on March 1. The players wore yellow ribbons in their hair with “#LLM” for “Live Like Madelynn.” Braun and most of the Butler supporters wore yellow Sunday, as well. A banner honoring Troutt was included in many team photos.
“She’s definitely here throughout this whole postseason,” Tinnell said of Troutt. “We definitely did this for her. She’d be so proud of us.”
The game’s first few innings offered little clue to the fireworks ahead as Butler put together a few hits to set up the game’s first run on a Sadie Werner RBI single to center field in the fourth.
Daviess County (34-7) tied the game after a walk and a perfect bunt for a single by Katie Mewes put runners on first and second with no one out. Even after a popout, Daviess tried to move the runners into scoring position with another bunt, but instead were gifted Tinnell’s throwing error on the play that let the tying runs score to make it 2-2 in the bottom of the fifth inning.
That set up Tinnell’s heroics in the sixth. Butler added an incredible six more runs in the top of the seventh.
“I knew we could all come back from that,” said Butler pitcher Maria Peguero, who got two flyouts to end the fifth inning and was otherwise largely untroubled. Peguero allowed four hits in seven innings with six strikeouts. “It was a bad error. It was a lot of stress, but we came back.”
Peguero had faith in her offense and in Tinnell.
“She is an all-star,” Peguero said. “It’s a huge relief that we all came together and got our bats hot today.”
Braun becomes only the second ever female coach to lead a Kentucky high school fast-pitch softball team to a state title. Penny Reece led Greenwood to three championships (2007, 2008 and 2013).
“You’re talking 16 years of coaching and you get to a point where I never thought I’d get here,” Braun said. “It’s one amazing feeling. A couple of years ago we finished third and we got (right) there. How many people get to accomplish this? I was telling them, ‘you’ll remember it the rest of your life.”
Emily Glasscock, Boyle County; Kayley Bruener, Pendleton County; Trinity Bridges, Lafayette; Lucy Patterson, Warren East; Kayla Sullivan and Emily Cole, Lewis County; Mikka Thompson and Katlyn Milby, Green County; Abby Newman, Miller Roberts and Jessie Daniels, Daviess County; Addisyn McNeil, Maria Peguero and Kyndal Tinnell (MVP), Butler