Lady Bears lock up top seed with rout
Needing a win to clinch the top seed in next week’s 52nd District Tournament, the Harlan County Lady Bears quickly took all the mystery out of a showdown Monday against visiting Middlesboro.
The Lady Bears established themselves as the favorite, scoring seven runs in the first inning on the way to a 15-0 three-inning blowout, following up a big win Saturday over South Laurel.
“We’ve kind of been waiting for this all year,” Harlan County coach Tim McElyea said. “We thought we’d have decent pitching and we thought we’d be able to hit the ball. We’ve been up and down all year, but we’ve scored 28 runs the last two games against South Laurel and Middlesboro. We hope we’re peaking right now.”
The Lady Jackets came into the game after big wins last week over both North Laurel and South Laurel, part of an up and down season for a 10-10 team
“We came out not ready to play again,” Middlesboro coach Petie Gilbert said. “That’s been our problem this year. We come out and play a good game, then we play like we did tonight. We have to be ready to compete every game.”
Harlan County (15-9) pounded out 12 hits, with seven of the nine starters recording hits, led by shortstop Emily Collett with three singles in three at bats. Lainey Cox continued her hot hitting from a tournament over the weekend in Somerset with a triple and single. Hannah Johnson added two doubles. Nikki Creech had two singles. Emily Long had a double. Destinee Jenkins and Regan Caudill added one single each.
“The bottom part of the lineup has picked it up,” McElyea said. “It was a good win. That No. 1 seed is important. You can’t overlook anybody, but I think we’re peaking at the right time.”
Jenkins was in control on the mound, pitching a two-hitter with one strikeout and no walks.
Virginia Marcum and Hannah McCullough each had singles for the Lady Jackets.
Macy Mink recorded one out while giving up seven runs on five hits to open the game. Taylor Yoakum allowed eight runs on seven hits in 2 1/3 innings.
Harlan County loaded the bases to start the game as Jenkins reached on an error, Cox singled and Kacie Russell walked. Johnson doubled in two runs and another scored on Adams’ infield fly pop up that was dropped at second base. Creech singled in a run and Collett doubled in two for a 6-0 lead. Jenkins added an RBI single to knock out Mink.
Johnson and Long opened with back-to-back doubles in the second inning. Adams walked and Creech drove in another run with a ground out. Collett singled home another run. Cox and Russell walked to force in a run for an 11-0 lead.
Creech and Collett had two-out singles in the third inning before Caudill walked to load the bases. After Jenkins was hit by a pitch to force in a run, Cox ended the game due to the mercy rule with a bases-clearing triple.
Harlan County travels to Corbin on Tuesday. Middlesboro plays host to Clay County on Tuesday.
Middlesboro 000 — 0 2 3
Harlan County 744 — 15 12 1
Mink, Yoakum (1) and Foister; Jenkins and Long. WP — Jenkins (11-9). LP — Mink.