Tim McElyea was confident his Harlan County Lady Bears would be a good offensive team in 2014, but even he is surprised they are as good as they have been through the first half of the season.
Harlan County topped the eight-run mark for the seventh time in 10 games, rolling to an 11-1 win in five innings Tuesday over Bell County.
“They have been aggressive in certain counts and not taking so many pitches. The hit and runs have helped some of them. We’re scoring more runs than I anticipated, especially early because pitching is usually ahead of hitting,” McElyea said. “We’ve faced some good arms and outhit every opponent. I like the way we’re making contact.”
Tia King led the Lady Bears with a triple and single. Savannah Sergent doubled twice. Jessie Johnson added a double and single. Reagan Nease and Farren Clark each singled twice. Destinee Jenkins doubled. Kaitlyn Stittums, Bridget Robinson and Chyanna Harris contributed one single each.
“We face a lot of teams that 7-8-9 are outs, but our 7-8-9 are pretty decent,” McElyea said. “I like the way we’ve been bunting. That’s become part of our arsenal.”
Jenkins earned her seventh win as she gave up only hit in four innings with two strikeouts and a walk. Johnson gave up one run on one hit in one inning on the mound.
Courtney Baker kept Harlan County off the scoreboard in the first inning, but the Lady Bears took command with a five-run second inning that featured RBI doubles by Jenkins and Johnson and RBI singles by Stittums and Clark.
King tripled in the third inning and scored when Mallory Johnson was safe on an error. After Harris beat out an infield hit, Jessie Johnson singled in one run and Stittums brought in another with a sacrifice fly.
Sergent and Robinson produced a run in the fourth inning with singles, but Baker worked out of a bases-loaded jam when Harris hit into a 1-2-3-double play.
Bell scored against Jessie Johnson in the fifth inning as Courtney Baker walked and Whitney Mullins and Cheyanne Deaton reached on errors to load the bases. Courtney Cinnamon singled home a run before Johnson worked out of trouble.
Harlan County ended the game with two runs in the fifth inning. Clark had an RBI single and Sergent ripped an RBI double to left for the walkoff win.
“Bell is pretty young, and with teams like that you can’t let them hang around,” McElyea said. “This was a big win in our district opener.”
Harlan County (7-3) travels to Cumberland Gap, Tenn., on Thursday and plays at Harlan at 1 p.m. on Saturday in another district clash.
Bell County00001 — 1 2 2
Harlan County05312 — 11 14 2
Baker and Sanders; Jenkins, J. Johnson (5) and Robinson. WP — Jenkins (7-3). LP — Baker.