For a team that has recently watched numerous wins slip away in the late innings, Monday’s 5-4 victory over visiting Harlan was especially satisfying for coach TIm McElyea and the Harlan County Lady Bears.
Harlan County had lost five of six going into the game and was in danger of losing the top seed in next week’s 52nd District Tournament that looked like a lock two weeks ago. The Lady Bears overcame a 3-2 deficit with a run in the sixth inning to tie it and a run in the seventh to walk off with a win. The Lady Bears, 14-9 overall and 4-1 in district action, can clinch the top seed with a win Tuesday at Bell County.
“We’ve been struggling lately all the way around, at the plate and defensively,” Harlan County coach TIm McElyea said. “Harlan has been playing better lately and they battled us hard. Harlan played hard. We got a timely hit and executed at the end.”
Harlan, winners of eight of 11 since starting the season 2-7, played a much closer game against Harlan County than in the previous matchup, a 10-0 loss at Harlan on April 12.
“We did play a lot better than we did the first time, but you have to give credit to Harlan County because they beat us,” Harlan coach Scott Lewis said. “They hit it in the right spot at the right time, but I think our girls are playing better. Harlan County has an excellent team and to be able to compete with them is good.”
Junior first baseman Savanna Sergent led Harlan County’s 14-hit attack with a a double and two singles, driving in three of five HCHS runs in the process. Bridget Robinson added two singles and scored the game-winning run. Farren Clark and Jessie Johnson also had two singles each. Kaitlyn Stittums, Tia King, Destinee Jenkins, Chyanna Harris, Mallory Johnson and Jessie Johnson contributed one single each.
Jenkins earned the win on the mound as she gave up four runs on six hits with one strikeout and one walk.
Madison Brewer and Madison Noe each had two hits to lead the Lady Dragons, who fell to 10-10 overall and 3-3 in the district. Kaylee McNiel and Alyssa Mills each had one single.
Noe gave up three runs in two innings on the mound. Brewer allowed two runs in 4 1/3 innings to suffer the loss.
Two errors on a ball hit by Noe helped the Lady Dragons score their first run as she came home on McNiel’s hit. Mills followed with a single. McNiel scored the second run on a steal of home as Mills was thrown out at second.
Clark led off the bottom of the inning with a single, moved to second when Stittums walked and scored when Sergent singled. A single by Jenkins loaded the bases and a single by Robinson tied the game.
Jessie Johnson single to lead off the second inning and put the Lady Bears ahead when Sergent doubled.
Harlan reclaimed the lead in the fifth inning on a two-run single by Brewer after Noe singled with one out in the inning and McNiel reached base on an error.
Clark singled with one out in the sixth inning and scored the tying run when Sergent singled off the glove of Mills at shortstop.
Harlan threatened in the top of the seventh as Karst was hit by a pitch and Noe singled, both with one out. McNiel sacrificed both runners over, but Jenkins worked out of the jam by getting Brewer to pop out to Stittums at shortstop.
Robinson singled to lead off the HCHS half of the seventh, then moved to second on Harris’ sacrifice and took third on Mallory Johnson’s bloop hit to center. Jessie Johnson followed with the game-winning single.
“A senior got a big hit, another senior moved her over and then a freshman won it,” McElyea said. “We’ve been struggling late in games, but today we didn’t and were fortunate enough to win. If this doesn’t get us going nothing can.”
Harlan County can clinch the top seed with a win Tuesday at Bell County. Harlan plays host to Letcher Central on Tuesday.
Harlan200 020 0 — 4 6 0
Harlan County210 001 1 — 5 14 5
Noe, Brewer (3) and Jenkins; Jenkins and Robinson. WP — Jenkins (14-9). LP — Brewer (1-5).