BARBOURVILLE —Allison Swafford struck out eight and fired a one-hit shutout to lead Knox Central to a 1-0 win over Pineville in the 51st District championship game on Friday at Walnut Street Park.
“This was the first time I have seen her pitch that fast all year and she was just on today,” Pineville coach Shari Knuckles said of Swafford.
It was a classic pitchers’ duel as Pineville’s Rebecca Lee-Theis allowed just an unearned run and five hits over her six innings and the game took just one hour to complete.
The Lady Panthers pushed across the only run in the bottom of the second inning. Sarah Swafford doubled to right-center with one out, went to third on a two-out single by Cheyenne Bingham and scored on an error.
That would be all the support Swafford needed. She allowed just a walk to Kelsey Goodin in the third and a single to Lee-Theis and a walk to Brooke Sanders in the fifth. Sanders also reached on an error in the seventh for the only other Lady Lions base runner.
The fifth inning provided Pineville’s best scoring chance as Lee-Theis smacked a single past second to start the inning. Courtesy runner Kameron Jackson advanced to second on an error and Sanders walked. But Swafford came back with a strike out before Brandy Sanders moved the runners up with a ground out to second. Swafford got out of the jam by getting Goodin to hit a pop foul to first.
“I thought we were finally going to bust loose there when we got a hit and a walk. We had two on with no outs, but the pitcher just came back strong and shut us down,” Knuckles said. “Those days happen, but the girls played tough all game and they gave it every thing they could. I couldn’t be any prouder of them even if we had won.”
Sarah Swafford also singled in the game for the Lady Panthers while Brianna Ledford and Kristin Smith had the other two Knox Central hits.
Allison Swafford was named the tournament’s most valuable player and was joined on the All-Tournament team by teammates Sarah Swafford, Brianna Ledford, Hannah Campbell and Kristin Smith. Pineville’s Rebecca Lee-Theis, Amy Allen and Ali Knuckles also made the team along with Barbourville’s Madison Hicks. The Lynn Camp representative had yet to named at the conclusion of Friday’s game.
Knuckles said her Lady Lions were eager to keep playing.
“We’ve got a young team with just two seniors out of 21 players. The majority of those are JV and they’ve come to every practice, every game ready to go,” she said. “We went through stretches where we only had maybe one day off in 14 days and they’re still ready to go even though school’s out. Their summer could be beginning, but they’re still wanting to learn and wanting to play.”
Both Knox Central (13-15) and Pineville (8-13) advance to the 13th Region Tournament starting Monday at North Laurel. Pineville will open up against either 52nd District champion Middlesboro, 50th District champion South Laurel or 49th District champion North Laurel while Knox will face either 52nd District runner-up Harlan County, 50th District runner-up Corbin or 49th District runner-up Clay County. The draw for the regional softball tournament will take place Sunday afternoon at North Laurel.
“Anytime you lose it’s tough, especially in the district finals. But these girls continued to hold themselves with class and we’re still living to play another day,” Knuckles added. “There are a lot of teams out there that aren’t going to the region. We have to put this loss behind us and start right back at practice and get ready to play again.”
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Pineville………000 000 0 — 0 1 3
Knox Central…010 000 x — 1 5 2
Rebecca Lee-Theis and Brooke Sanders; Allison Swafford and Hannah Campbell. W-Swafford. L-Lee-Theis.