The Pineville Lady Mountain Lions are 51st District champions for the first time since 2009. They brought home the title in convincing fashion, putting up six runs in the first inning and cruising to a 13-0 win over Knox Central on Tuesday.
“We made it back to the title game last year but we came up short (a 1-0 loss to Knox Central),” Pineville coach Shari Knuckles said. “We decided that we had to win it this year and the main word we used was ‘Dominate’. We wanted to dominate in all of our district games and these girls went out and did that.
“I’m so proud of this team. Every time they step out on that field they represent Pineville High School with such class and so much desire to play to the best of their ability.”
Senior pitcher Rebecca Lee-Theis struck out ten over five innings and held the Lady Panthers just one hit in the game — a little blooper that dropped in between second base and right field. She also had a couple of hits and was named the 51st District Tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
“We have two seniors, Rebecca and Kelsey Goodin. Kelsey hit the ball well and played good defense in both games (in the tournament,” Knuckles said. “Rebecca need just two strikeouts to get to 100 for the season and she went way over that. She’s played a big role in bringing winning softball back to Pineville and I know she wanted to go out strong in her last game at her home field.”
Lee-Theis retired Knox Central in order in the top of the first inning and the Lady Lions essentially put the game away by scoring six runs in the bottom of the inning. Freshman Kameron Jackson provided the big hit with a three-run triple — her third triple in two tournament games.
Knuckles said the fast start came about because every player was focused on reaching base.
“We wanted to end it in five innings and the girls stepped up. Once we got those six runs, Rebecca just took over,” she said. “It was three batters and out in every inning but one and in that one she only had to face four batters.”
The Lady Lions finished with eleven hits in the game and scored their 13 runs in in just four innings.
Joining Lee-Theis on the All-Tournament team were Lady Lions Jackson, Goodin, Lizzie Lee-Theis and Erica Gambrell.
Both Pineville (13-6) and Knox Central (8-26) advance to the 13th Region Tournament, which starts on Monday at Whitley County High School. The Lady Lions will meet Clay County, Corbin or Middlesboro in the first round while Knox Central will open against either 49th District champ North Laurel, 50th District champ South Laurel or 52nd District champ Harlan County.
“I’m more encouraged this year than ever going into the Region,” Knuckles said. “We’ve played several games against some pretty good teams in Harlan County, Middlesboro and Corbin and we played them all within a run or two so I think our chances are good. We’ve got strong pitching, a strong offense and a strong defense. I know we’re going to give somebody a good game.”