The Middlesboro Lady Jackets didn’t get quite the send-off they wanted heading into this weekend’s State All “A” Tournament. Harlan County scored four runs in the top of the seventh inning to pull out a 6-3 win over the Lady Jackets on Thursday.
“If we would have hit the ball half-way decent we would have won this ball game,” said Middlesboro coach Luster Powers. “You get four hits and it’s hard to win a game.”
A two-run single by Lauren Spurlock had given the Lady Jackets a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning. But the Lady Bears rallied, scoring all four of their runs after two were out in the seventh.
Chyanna Harris, Kaitlyn Stittums and Katie Johnson all singled to load the bases. Makayla Partin, the third MHS pitcher of the evening, struck out the next two batters before Bridget Robinson singled to bring in the tying and go-ahead runs. A bunt single by Sarah Evans and double from Tia King also brought in runs to make it 6-3.
Middlesboro wasn’t able to mount a threat in the bottom of the inning off of Harlan County’s Katie Johnson. Johnson struck out eight, while allowing just four hits and issuing one walk in the complete-game victory.
“Katie throws the ball awfully well, she moves it around a lot and she’s hard to hit,” Powers said.
Jessica Carter started for Middlesboro and after walking the first two batters, got a big defensive play from second baseman Tiffany Howerton. Howerton came out of nowhere to snag flare in shallow center and was able to throw on to first for a double-play. Carter gave up just two hits and the two walks over three innings while striking out two.
Spurlock took over in the pitcher’s circle to start the fourth, but ran into trouble in the fifth. With one out, Harris singled, advanced to second on a passed ball and then scored on a single from Johnson.
Middlesboro tied the game with a run in the bottom of the inning. Laura Durham singled and advanced to second on an error. Courtesy runner Hanna Gambrel went to third on Howerton’s ground out and then scored on a passed ball to make it 1-1.
Partin took over pitching duties for the Lady Jackets in the sixth and gave up a single to Farren Clark to start the inning. Robinson also singled before Clark stole third and scored on and Evans ground out.
The Lady Jackets rallied in the bottom of the sixth as Kadi Cordell led off with a singled and stole second. Megan Prater doubled and Spurlock followed with her two-run single for a 3-2 MHS lead, but Middlesboro wasn’t able to hold the lead in the seventh.
“Hopefully they let this game go. We had a lot of opportunities to get out of it, things just kind of fell apart for us defensively,” Powers said. “We’ve just got to focus up and go out this weekend, execute our game plan and start hitting the ball again.
Harlan County (9-8 overall, 2-2 district) will travel to Barbourville today. Middlesboro (12-4 overall, 3-1 district) heads to Owensboro for the State All “A” Classic. They’ll open pool play on Saturday against Magoffin County at 10:30 a.m. and will also play Nicholas County at 2 p.m. and Lexington Christian at 5:30 p.m. The top two teams from the four pools advance to single-elimination play on Sunday with the quarterfinal games starting at 8:30 a.m.
— — —
Harlan Co…….000 011 4 — 6 10 3
Middlesboro… 000 012 0 — 3 4 3
Katie Johnson and Bridget Robinson; Jessica Carter, Lauren Spurlock (5), Makayla Partin (6) and Laura Durham. W-Johnson. L-Partin.