That’s how long it’s been since the Monroe County Lady Falcons reached the 4th Region Softball Tournament. However, the 16th season was supposed to be the year to break that unfortunate streak.
After back-to-back winning seasons, the sixth year of coach Treg Turner’s tenure at the helm featured a team that had what he says was his best roster yet.
“Versatility.” Turner said of his team’s biggest strength. “We had multiple kids who were able to play multiple positions. Our lineup was also very versatile. Someone batting near the end of the lineup could easily hit a hot streak and be moved up to the top of the lineup. It’s deeper than what we have had in the past.”
Another reason why Turner and company had so much optimism heading into the 2020 campaign was that they only lost two seniors off the 2019 squad which finished 18-14 overall an 2-5 in district play.
However, the biggest why this spring might have seen the Lady Falcons playing at WKU for the first time since 2004 comes down to one person. And that person is senior Brylee Pickerell.
Simply put, Pickerell was one of the best players in all of the 4th Region as a junior. Not only is she Monroe County’s ace from the circle, but she was second in the region in batting average in 2019 (.561) and second in home runs (13).
According to Turner, Pickerell has rewritten the Lady Falcons’ record books despite not even getting to play in her final season at the school.
“Brylee has been with me since the beginning,” Turner said. “I brought her up in seventh grade and she contributed right away. What she does in simply going about her business is simply second-to-none. She is not crazy athletic, but she works incredibly hard. That hard work has rubbed off on the younger kids.”
For Pickerell and the rest of the seniors throughout the state, they will not get that final season to finally prove their true talents at the top of their game.
“Everyone was so excited on our team for this season,” Pickerell said. “We were excited to get on the field and make some noise. We have made some noise the past couple of seasons, but we wanted to make some noise that we haven’t had before.”
Of course, that “noise” Pickerell referred to is the Lady Falcons finally making it to the region tournament. While Barren County was the presumptive favorite in the 2020 season to take the district, Monroe County may have been matched against Allen County-Scottsville once again in the district tournament.
The Lady Patriots defeated the Lady Falcons in all three contests last season with two of those games ending in just five innings. However, Turner saw something different with his team heading into 2020.
“I was able to see during preseason workouts more of a work ethic from the girls than I have seen in my six years as head coach,” Turner said. “The girls have never worked that hard before. They finally saw that they were knocking on some doors.”
Pickerell was not the only leader or talented player for this Monroe County team as fellow senior and three-year starter Melanie Thurman was slated for a fine season as well. Those were the only two seniors for this year’s Lady Falcon team.
“Those two seniors have both meant so much to this program as they have been through a lot,” Turner said.
“It being our senior season — we were all just so excited,” Thurman said. “It’s meant everything to play softball all these years and to be able to start. I grew together with Brylee and we played little league together. We were the only ones in our class to stick around and we are best friends now.”
While Turner’s team loses a chance to finally breakthrough and make it to the region tournament this season, the future is still bright for the budding program.
“We are going to be alright,” Turner said. “We haven’t been able to reload often since we are a smaller school. I’ve looked at it in three-year steps. This was year two of these three years. I had two seniors this year and will have two seniors next season. I’m looking forward to next season.”
And even with Pickerell losing what might have been another incredibly impressive season, she is still thankful for her time at Monroe County before she continues her softball career at Lindsey Wilson College.
“It’s been great because I’ve met so many people who have become my friends that I never thought would have," Pickerell said. "They have all really pushed me to be the best athlete and person I could be. Honestly, we really are a family.”