It was a cold and dreary Wednesday evening in Pineville and the Lady Lions just couldn’t get their bats going as they dropped a 4-0 decision to Knox Central in 51st District softball action.
“We made a few errors and gave them a couple of runs there early. We came up strong defensively for a few innings and then gave them a couple of more runs with errors,” Lady Lion coach Shari Knuckles said. “It was like our offense was off. We just couldn’t hit and sometimes you have those off nights and there’s not much you can do about it.”
The wet conditions seemed to favor the pitchers as Lady Panther Allison Swafford and Pineville’s Rebecca Lee-Theis both gave up just two hits in the game.
Knox got both of theirs in the top of the first inning, along with a two-base error in the outfield, and took a 2-0 lead. Swafford singled with one out and came around to score as Hannah Campbell reached on the error. Cassi Hale followed with an RBI single.
Lee-Theis retired the next eight batters in order until Hale reached and took second on a throwing error to start the top of the fourth. Hale went to third on a wild pitch and scored on Cheyenne Bingham’s ground out to make it 3-0.
Meanwhile, Pineville was getting girls on base but couldn’t get the big hit to bring them home. Erica Gambrel walked with one out in the first and took second on a passed ball. Gambrel was thrown out going for third as Lizzie Lee-Theis reached on a fielder’s choice. Ali Knuckles walked and a wild pitch sent Lee-Theis to third, but that was as far as she would get as Rebecca Lee-Theis flew out to right to end the inning.
Swafford sat down ten straight Lady Lions and Knox Central added an insurance run in the fifth.
Catrina Mills walked and advanced to second on a Morgan Gambrel ground out. She went to third on a wild pitch and then scored on Kristin Smith’s ground out for a 4-0 lead.
Brooke Sanders drew a walk leading off the bottom of the fifth for Pineville. She advanced to third on ground outs by Amy Allen and Emily Mullins. Kelsey Goodin walked and went to second on a wild pitch, but Swafford came back with a strike out to end the threat.
The Lady Lions didn’t get their first hit until Lizzie Lee-Theis doubled to deep right field with one out in the sixth. She made it to third on a Knuckles ground out, but again Swafford got out of the inning by coaxing a comebacker.
Rebecca Lee-Theis made quick work of the Lady Panthers in the sixth and seventh innings and retired the final eight batters she faced. She finished by allowing just one earned run on two hits over seven innings while striking out four and walking one.
Allen smacked a solid base hit to center with one out in the seventh and Mullins was hit by a pitch. A Goodin ground out put the runners in scoring position, but Swafford recorded her fifth strikeout to end the game.
Swafford earned the win after giving up just two hits, striking out five, walking four and hitting a batter over seven shut-out innings.
Knox Central (6-7, 1-0 in district play) visits Barbourville today in a game that will likely decide the top seed for the 51st District Tournament. Pineville (5-7, 1-2) will be the third seed in the district. The Lady Lions play at Harlan on Friday.
“We were coming off a district loss to Barbourville so we’re looking at the number three seed. We know we’ll have to play either Knox or Barbourville in the first round,” Knuckles added. “I’d rather be peaking right when the district starts than peak right now and then fizzle out. I’m okay with where we’re at because, really, we’ve beaten ourselves with errors in those two district games and that’s something we can get corrected before the tournament.”
— — —
Knox Central…200 110 0 — 4 2 0
Pineville……..000 000 0 — 0 2 2
Allison Swafford and Hannah Campbell; Rebecca Lee-Theis and Brooke Sanders. W-Swafford. L-Lee-Theis.