The young Harlan Lady Dragons have struggled to close out games in the early season, but that hurdle may have finally been cleared on Tuesday. Harlan allowed another late lead to slip away, but this time the Lady Dragons came through in the seventh inning to finish off visiting Knox Central 9-8 in 13th Region action.
“They had to fight through the whole game. They kept coming back, and that is something that we have had a rough time doing,” said Harlan coach Scott Lewis. “I would love for this to be the one that gets them over the hump and get some confidence in them. They have the skills. They are just lacking the confidence.”
The Lady Dragons led 8-5 heading into the final inning, but Knox rallied with three runs in the top of the inning to pull even and set up the drama in the bottom half.
Senior Kristina Fields reached with a line-drive single to first to lead off the inning. Heather Holland followed with a single that allowed Fields to advance to third base. As the pitcher was walking back to the mound, Holland attempted to steal second base. The pitcher threw to second in enough time to put out Holland, but Fields started for home on the throw to second. The throw was just late as Fields slid home for the winning run.
“The opportunity arose. I thought if we could get Heather off the bag we had an opportunity to score there. I figured we better take it,” Lewis said. “Kristina is an excellent player. She has really come on strong here in her senior year. She is fundamentally sound as far as base-running and hitting. When she is on, there is not a better center-fielder in the region.”
The teams were tied at four through four innings, before Harlan score three runs in the fifth to gain the three-run advantage.
Holland had three singles to lead the Lady Dragons at the plate. Madison Brewer added a double and a single. Kristina Fields contributed a pair of singles. Madison Noe and Jourdan Ledford each recorded a double, and Anna Karst and Alyssa Mills each added a single.
“We are pretty balanced hitting the ball. We are solid from the top to the bottom,” said Lewis.
Noe recorded six strikeouts, while giving up seven hits in the complete-game victory on the mound.
Harlan (7-5) will host Lee, Va. on Thursday, while Knox Central will host Jackson County
Knox Central 112 001 3 - 8 7 6
Harlan 301 031 1 - 9 11 5
Swafford and Campbell; Noe and Holland. WP-Noe (6-4). LP-Swafford.