The Middlesboro Lady Jackets battled all the way back from a 4-0 deficit to pull out a 5-4 win over Leslie County in the championship game of the Billy Joe Idol Memorial Tournament on Saturday.
Sophomore catcher Laura Durham tied the game with a two-run double in the sixth inning and then delivered a walk-off single down the third base line in the eighth inning to bring in Makayla Partin with the winning run.
“We finally got our bats going and when we hit it we play good,” Middlesboro coach Luster Powers said. “Laura is just a pure hitter. She’s struggled some this season, but she’s hit good this weekend. Hopefully it will help her playing these games back-to-back. In a big situation I wouldn’t want anyone else at the plate besides her.”
Freshman Madison Shields earned the win in relief. She took over to start the fifth and struck out eight without allowing a hit over four shut-out innings. The only Lady Eagle to reach base against Shields was Emily Griffith, who was hit by a pitch with two out in the sixth.
“Madison throws it real well. She came on in relief and just shut them down. That’s what we needed to get us some time to get the bats going,” Powers said.
Shields’ performance capped a dominant day of pitching by the Lady Jackets. In going 3-0 in the tournament four Middlesboro pitchers combined to allow just one earned run on ten hits over 22 innings while striking out 27, walking three and hitting four batters.
Middlesboro committed ten errors on the day that led to six unearned runs.
Sophomore Lauren Spurlock made her first varsity appearance in the circle this season to start the championship game and may have been dealing with some jitters in the first inning.
Leslie’s Marissa Davidson led off the game with a four-pitch walk and came around to score when Spurlock overthrew first after fielding a Katelyn Farler bunt. Singles by Lyndsey Shepherd and Madisyn Combs made it 2-0. With two out, Jada Estep delivered a sinking liner for a base hit to right. The ball got past Shields and rolled all the way to the fence as both runners scored and Estep advanced to third.
Spurlock settled down from there and retired the next seven batters in order. She worked out of a jam in the fourth as Karley Napier walked, Griffith singled and Kaley Collett was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out. Spurlock got Davidson to pop out to first and struck out Farler to end the inning.
“Spurlock pitched good. We just didn’t play defense behind her and she kind of got down on herself,” Powers said. “She settled down and we started playing defense behind her. She’ll be fine. She also came out and got a big hit for us later on in the game.”
Over her four innings, Spurlock allowed four runs, one earned, on four hits while striking out four, walking two and hitting a batter.
The Lady Jackets got on the board in the bottom of the second when Jessica Carter singled, Partin reached on an error and Morgan Thompson walked to load the bases with two outs. Durham hit a sharp grounder to short where Davidson came up throwing home. Collett was blocking the plate and Carter slid into her as the throw arrived and it popped out so Carter was safe.
Middlesboro had left six runners on over the first four innings, but manufactured another run in the fifth. Bailey Hensley singled, stole second and then went to third on a sac bunt by Destiny Ford. Shae Moyers followed with an RBI single to make it 4-2. Leslie County got out of the inning by turning a 6-4-3 double-play.
In the sixth the Lady Jackets loaded the bases on singles by Carter, Tiffany Howerton and Partin. Thompson hit a hard line drive but it was right at Griffith, the Leslie second baseman, and nearly turned into a triple-play. Partin was doubled off at first and Howerton would have been out at second, but the throw from first went into left field and Carter was able to get back to third.
Durham followed with a two-run double to left to tie the game at four.
Middlesboro got singles from Spurlock and Shields in the seventh, but the Lady Eagles turned a double-play for the third straight inning and the game went into extra innings.
A strong defensive game kept Leslie in it, but they ran into some trouble in the eighth. Howerton led off with a liner headed toward left field. Davidson made an athletic play to range far to her right and make a leaping stab at back-handing the ball, but couldn’t quite bring it in. Partin followed with a bouncer back up the middle, Davidson made a diving stop behind second but her flip for a force out was wide and trickled back toward first base. Howerton was able to slide under a tag at third as Partin advanced to second on the error.
Thompson grounded to short and Davidson’s throw home came in low. Howerton would have been able to score easily, but Cornett again blocked the plate with her leg and Howerton tripped over it. The umpire ruled Howerton didn’t touch the plate and Collett was able to secure the ball and make the tag.
Durham then hit a hard shot just fair down the third base line as Partin scored easily to end the game.
Earlier on Saturday, the Lady Jackets had defeated Leslie County 9-3 and Whitley County 5-2. It was a nice bounce back from Friday’s 5-0 loss to Harlan County.
“We came out and played good today.We hit the ball and played pretty good defense. Makayla pitched well in the first game, Jess pitched well in the second game and I can’t say enough about it,” Powers added.
Partin went all seven innings in the earlier win over the Lady Eagles. She gave up three unearned runs on three hits while striking out seven, walking one and hitting one.
Durham led the offense in that one with four hits, including a double, two RBI and two runs scored. Spurlock drove in three runs with a pair of doubles. Carter, Shields and Partin had two hits each and Ford added an RBI single.
Carter went seven innings to get the win over Whitley. She allowed two unearned runs on three hits with eight strikeouts and one hit batter.
Hensley had two singles and drove in two runs while Moyers also singled twice and scored a run. Spurlock doubled, scored and drove in one. Durham doubled and scored. Howerton and Partin both singled and scored while Ford added an RBI grounder.
Middlesboro (10-3) was scheduled to play at Harlan on Monday and at Harlan County on Tuesday.
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|Katie Johnson and Kaley Collett; Lauren Spurlock, Madison Shields (5) and Laura Durham. W — Shields. L — Johnson.|
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|McKiddy and McIntosh; Jessica Carter and Laura Durham. W — Carter. L — McKiddy.|
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|Kameron Turner and Kaley Collett; Makayla Partin and Laura Durham. W — Partin. L — Durham.|