The Cumberland Gap Lady Panthers closed out their first winning season in the ten-year history of the school on Tuesday with a 16-10 victory at Harlan.
CGHS finishes the regular season with a record of 11-8 and will travel to face South Greene today for a play-in game in the District 2-AA Tournament.
“To be honest, it’s more than I thought we would be able to do,” said Lady Panther coach J.W. Campbell. “The kids have have worked extremely hard, though we still have a long way to go. It’s the first winning year in the history of the school, that’s something we’re proud of.”
Tuesday Cumberland Gap got a home run and four RBI from Lindsey Elliott while Gena Lake knocked in three runs with a single and a double. Senior catcher Olivia Price and sophomore outfielder McKayla Hamilton had three hits apiece as the Lady Panthers outslugged the Lady Dragons.
Harlan jumped on top with four runs in the bottom of the second inning. Heather Holland walked and came around to score as Torri Mitchell reached on an error. Madison Brewer also reached on an error before Jourdan Ledford made it 3-0 with a two-run single. Ledford later scored on a sacrifice bunt by Alyssa Mills.
“Sometimes we look pretty good and sometimes we look like the team I guess we still are. We kicked it around some,” Campbell said. After being held hitless over the first two innings, Cumberland Gap erupted for five runs in the third. Hamilton singled and Jordan Thacker walked to get things started. Hamilton was thrown out at home as Chelsey Williams reached on a fielder’s choice. McKenzie Miracle brought Thacker home with an RBI ground out and Kaitlyn McCarty walked. Elliott followed with a three-run home to straight away center field and the Lady Panthers went up 5-4.
The Lady Dragons tied the game in the bottom of the inning as Kaylee McNiel singled and Mitchell doubled before Brewer’s sac bunt made it 5-5.
Cumberland Gap took the lead for good in the fourth. Singles by Hamilton, Williams and Miracle loaded the bases with one out. Price drove in one run with a base hit, McCarty walked to force in another and Miracle later scored on a wild pitch.
Harlan closed within a run in the bottom of the fourth as Anna Karst had an RBI single and McNeil an RBI double to make it 8-7.
The Lady Panthers put the game away with seven runs in the fifth. Hamilton doubled with one out, Thacker walked and Williams reached on an error to load the bases.
Miracle delivered a two-run double before Williams was thrown out at home as Price reached on a fielder’s choice. Walks to McCarty and Elliott forced in a run. A two-run single by Danielle Caldwell made it 13-7 and Gena Lake added a two-run double to push the Cumberland Gap lead to 15-7. Harlan scored one run in the fifth and two in the sixth, but the Lady Panthers got singles from Price, Caldwell and Lake to add a run in the seventh and set the final at 16-10. Caldwell pitched all seven innings to get the win. She gave up 10 runs, five earned, on nine hits while striking out four and walking two. Cumberland Gap (11-8) visits South Greene today for that District 2-AA play-in game. The winner will advance to the double-elimination portion of the tournament which starts Monday.
“We lost 1-0 in extra innings to that bunch last week, then they clobbered us pretty good in the second game,” Campbell said. “This has been a real good group of kids to work with, they’ve got that desire to win. We’ll just go down there and see how it goes.”
Caldwell and Price are the only two senior starters for the Lady Panthers.
“Danielle has had a great year for us and Olivia moved from outfield to catcher and has been a pleasant surprise. She’s done a real good job back there,” Campbell added. “We’re young in a way, and in a way we’re not. The core of the team is sophomores — Lindsey Elliott has been big at the plate and Kaitlyn McCarty has been big on defense. Our outfield is all sophomores and we’ve got a great freshman class.”
Harlan (10-11) was scheduled to play Knox Central on Wednesday and will host Jackson County on Friday.
— — —
Cumb. Gap… 005 370 1 — 16 13 5
Harlan……… 041 212 0 — 10 9 3
Caldwell and Price; Brewer, Noe (5) and Jenkins. W- Caldwell. L-Brewer. HR-CG:Elliott.