With four starters away on their senior trip, the Middlesboro Lady Jackets had several other to step up in a big way on Friday as they beat Bell County 7-1 to snap a four-game losing streak.
Freshman catcher Laura Durham singled, doubled, walked and reached on an error. She drove in one and courtesy runner Amanda Biscardi scored three times. Senior first baseman Savanna Miracle belted a three-run double while Makayla Partin and Jessica Carter had two hits each.
“We played good and I’m proud of them. We hit the ball pretty decent and played real good defense,” Lady Jacket coach Luster Powers said.
Partin tossed a fine game as the sophomore held the Lady Cats to just one run on four hits while striking out eight, walking one and hitting a batter.
For Bell County, sophomore third baseman Jess Sanders had an RBI double while Shasta Centers walked and scored a run. The Lady Cats also got hits from Morgan Garnett, Haley Goodman and Amanda Fleming.
“We switched our lineup a little bit. Jess usually plays catcher and we put her at third and she did well there and had a really big hit for us to bring in a run,” Lady Cat coach Angie Hammons said. “Amanda Fleming came off the bench to sub in for an injury (Whitney Mullins left the game after getting hit by a pitch on the knee) and she laid down a nice bunt to get a hit for us.”
Middlesboro took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first. Bailey Hensley walked and Durham brought her home with a two-out double into the left-center gap. Miracle walked and courtesy runner Biscardi later scored in the inning.
Bell pitcher Courtney Baker settled down nicely from there and gave up just five unearned runs the rest of the way. Over seven innings Baker surrendered just two earned runs on eleven hits while striking out two and walking four.
“Courtney pitched with an injury tonight and did a really, really good job. I’m proud of her,” Hammons added.
The Lady Cat defense got her out of jam in the third. Lauren Spurlock doubled, Durham singled and Miracle walked to load the bases with one out. Tiffany Howerton then hit a shot the appeared destined for left field, but Garnett snagged it at her shortstop position and threw on to Sanders at third for an inning-ending double-play.
Middlesboro tacked on two runs in the fifth. Durham reached on an error with one out, and Howerton singled with two down. Partin then helped her own cause with a hard low liner to center for base hit. The scooted under the glove of Bell center fielder Haley Goodman and went all the way to the fence. Both runs scored and Partin went all the way to third on the play.
“Makayla hit that ball hard and she pitches good every time out,” Power said. “She has a struggle every once in a while, but she’s a gamer. Anytime you hand her the ball she’s ready and she’ll bear down when it gets tough and make the pitches she needs to make.”
The Lady Cats threatened in the fourth and fifth innings. In the fourth Goodman reached on a bunt single with two out and went all the way to third on an error. But Spurlock fielded a grounder off the bat of Beverly Burkhart and threw on to first to end the inning. In the fifth, Fleming reached on a bunt single and stole second. With two out, Hillary Lowe hit a shot down toward third, but Spurlock was there again. She made a diving stop and threw on to first from her knees to end the inning.
“She’s tough over there. She’s tall, got a great reach and made a great play to throw that girl out from her knees. She plays real well,” Powers added.
In the top of the sixth Hensley reached on an error, Kadi Cordell singled and Durham walked to load the bases with two out. Miracle roped a bases clearing double up the gap in left-center to put the Lady Jackets up 7-0.
“Middlesboro was doing their job, that’s all I can really say,” Hammons said. “Middlesboro hit the ball really well, hit it in the gap. We still made some major errors that let some runs in, but you have to hand it to Middlesboro.”
The Lady Cats finally broke through in the bottom of the inning when Centers walked and then scored on Sanders’ double into the gap.
Baker worked around a Jessica Carter single in the top of the seventh.
“Jessica has hit the ball hard the last two weeks. I put her in the outfield today — she hasn’t played outfield since grade school, probably — and she did a good job out there. She made a big catch and I can’t say enough about her hitting,” Powers said. “We get our seniors back and will have four games next week. Hopefully they’re rested up and ready to go after a little break from softball.”
Partin struck out the side in the seventh to close out the win.
Middlesboro (14-7, 4-1 district) visits Pineville on Monday while Bell County (3-11, 2-4) plays at Clay County on Tuesday.
— — —
Middlesboro…200 023 0 — 7 11 1
Bell County…..000 001 1 — 1 4 3
Partin and Durham; Baker and Centers. W-Partin. L-Baker.