The Harlan County Lady Bears clinched the top seed for the 52nd District Tournament with Tuesday’s 12-1 win at Bell County. Harlan County broke open a one-run game by scoring eight runs in the top of the fifth inning, they waited out a lightning delay and went on to the six-inning victory.
“You always want to be the top seed. Here lately we’ve been on a roller-coaster ride but we’ve started to come around the last two or three games and that’s what you want to do is try to get hot at the end,” Lady Bear coach Tim McElyea.
Eighth-grader Destiny Jenkins gave up just one run on four hits over six innings to get the win. She struck out six and walked three. She also had three singles in the game and drove in a run.
“Destiny has won 15 games this year. She’s our number one and she’s beat Middlesboro, she’s beat Harlan twice, I can’t say enough about her,” McElyea added. “She’s one of the most focused young kids I’ve ever seen, especially on the mound. We have to give her run support and when we play defense behind her we’re fine.”
Senior shortstop Katelyn Stittums, who also had three hits in the game, led off the top of the first with a single. She advanced to second on a ground out by Jenkins and then scored on Savannah Sergent’s base hit for a 1-0 lead.
Bell County left five runners on base over the first four frames while Harlan County stranded one in each of the first two innings and two on in both the third and fourth as the score remained 1-0 until the top of the fifth.
With threatening skies and rumbles of thunder in the distance, the teams were rushing to get at least five innings in. The Lady Cats committed four errors in the frame and Harlan County took advantage to pull away.
“They’re learning and they’re growing as players and they’re getting better progressively game by game,” Bell coach Matt Hammons said. “The scores are getting better and I can see a lot of defensive improvement but I need them to focus for seven innings. We played five good innings, but it seems like every game we have that one inning that gets us.
“We knew this was going in that this was a developmental year for us and I’m still proud of them. If they’ll keep plugging away we can get to the point where we’re able to compete with these teams.”
Faren Clark led off the fifth by reaching on an error, Jenkins singled and the first run scored as Sergent reached on an error in the outfield. Bridget Robinson put down a bunt to bring in another run and she also reached on an error on the play. Tia King lined an RBI single just in front of Lady Cat right fielder Emily Saylor and Mallory Johnson reached on an error to load the bases before Robinson scored on a wild pitch to make it 5-0.
Chyanna Harris lofted a fly ball to deep left that was misplayed into an RBI double and Stittums followed by lining a two-run double to the fence in center field. She later scored on a Jenkins single to make it 9-0.
“We’re a streaky team and we’ve done the same thing the last week and a half. We did it at Clay, we did it against Jenkins and we did it at Harlan — we score one or two runs and think we’ve got the lead and then start leaving runners on and all of a sudden it’s one-run ballgame,” McElyea said. “That one inning really helped us out and hopefully we can get out of this leaving runners on base.”
A flash of lightning as the final out was recorded in the inning sent both teams scampering to their dugouts and the fans scurrying to their cars. A heavy, but quick rain shower followed and play picked up in the bottom of the fifth after about a 40-minute delay.
Bethany Miracle slapped a base hit through the right side to start the bottom of the fifth for the Lady Cats and Jess Sanders worked a walk. After a wild pitch moved the runners up, Kadi Cordell delivered an RBI ground-out back to Jenkins to make the score 9-1.
Robinson and King both singled to start the Lady Bear sixth and Mallory Johnson walked to load the bases. With one out pinch hitter Amber Creech delivered an RBI infield single, Stittums singled in a run and Raygon Nease walked to force in another run to put Harlan County up 12-1.
Courtney Cinnamon walked to start the bottom of the sixth. But Jenkins induced a pair of fielder’s choice grounders and got a strike out to end the game.
Jesse Johnson had a single and a double for the Lady Bears earlier in the game while King also finished with two hits.
The Lady Cats got singles from Sanders, Cordell, Beverly Burkhart and Miracle. Cinnamon walked twice and also reached on an error in her three plate appearances.
Both teams return to action on Thursday with Harlan County (15-9, 5-1 in district play) at Whitley County and Bell County (2-13, 0-6) at Corbin. The teams will meet again in the first round of the 52nd District Tournament on Monday at Harlan.
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|Destiny Jenkins and Bridget Robinson; Courtney Baker and Jess Sanders. W — Jenkins. L — Baker.|