The Harlan Lady Dragons put together one big inning Tuesday, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a consistent offensive effort from Harlan County. Seven Lady Bears combined for 13 hits to lift Harlan County to a 12-6 victory in the 52nd District contest.
After a scoreless first inning, Harlan County took the lead with a four-run second.
Farren Clark started the offense with a one-out single to left field. Sarah Evans followed with a double to drive in the opening run. Chyanna Harris singled to the outfield to make it 2-0. Jessie Johnson drove in the final two runs of the inning with a single to right field.
Harlan quickly erased the deficit with a five-run outburst in the third inning.
Amanda Longworth reached base first on an error. Madison Noe then delivered a single to third base. Noe stole second base to put two runners in scoring position. Anna Karst drove in the first run with a double. Noe and Karst both scored on a passed ball. Torri Mitchell reached base on a fielder’s choice. She stole second base and reached third on a passed ball. Shanae Thomas later advanced after being hit by a pitch. Both runners scored on a double from Kaitlyn Jenkins.
Harlan County tied the game with a run in the bottom of the inning.
Clark reached base on an error. She advanced on a single from Evans. Clark stole third base and scored when Jessie Johnson hit into a fielder’s choice. The Lady Bears capitalized on five Harlan errors in the contest.
“Errors were a major difference in the game. They were all costly errors,” said Harlan coach Scott Lewis. “One thing that really hurts us is we are so young that we don’t have any consistency. If we get down a run the girls put too much pressure on themselves. We need to be stronger mentally throughout the game.”
The Lady Bears regained the lead with three runs in the fourth inning.
Stittums reached base first on a double. Katie Johnson followed with a double to drive in Stittums. Evans drove in the final two runs of the inning when she singled to right field.
Harlan County took control with three more runs in the sixth inning. Evans, Harris and Bridget Robinson all scored in the inning as the lead grew to 12-5.
“We always give up that big inning. Again, we give up the big inning, but they came back and responded,” said Harlan County coach Tim McElyea. “Harlan is a good club. They put the bat on the ball and made us play defense. But, our defense keeps getting better. We put it all together a little bit tonight.”
Harlan scored its final run in the seventh inning. Longworth reached base on a walk and scored on a single from Karst.
Evans had a double and three singles to power Harlan County at the plate. Stittums recorded a triple and a double. Katie Johnson contributed two doubles. Harris delivered a pair of singles. Robinson doubled, and Clark and Jessie Johnson each added a single.
“(Noe) moves it around a little bit — especially on the inner half of the plate. She’s not bad at all,” McElyea said. “We have out hit every opponent we have played this year, except Letcher County. Hitting doesn’t seem to be the problem. If we can prevent the big inning and our defense tightens up we will be alright.”
Karst had a double and a single to lead the Harlan offense. Jenkins contributed a double, while Noe and Mitchell each added a single.
“If are not seeing the ball and hitting the ball you are not going to beat good teams. We got a few base on balls, but we weren’t able to capitalize on those,” Lewis said.
Johnson struck out eight batters, while scattering five hits in the complete-game victory on the mound.
“She pretty much getting a strikeout an inning against everybody we have played,” McElyea said. “She is going to bear down and keep you in the game. She has done it all year.”
Noe had one strikeout in 5 2/3 innings in the loss. Shanae Thomas pitched 1/3 inning in relief.
Harlan County (4-7) will travel to Lee, Va. today, while Harlan (5-7) will host Leslie County on Thursday.
— — —
Harlan 005 000 1 — 6 5 5
Harlan Co. 041 303 x — 12 13 1
Noe, Thomas (6) and Jenkins; K. Johnson and Robinson. WP — K. Johnson. LP — Noe.