Overbay leads Harlan to win over Lady Bears
Ashley Overbay has enjoyed more than her share of big wins in several seasons as Harlan’s ace pitcher, but one place where she hadn’t won was at Harlan County — at least until Thursday.
Overbay pitched a four-hitter with 13 strikeouts and three walks as the Lady Dragons won 2-1 over the defending district champs, edging Harlan County’s Destinee Jenkins in a pitchers’ duel that came down to the final pitch.
Harlan County had the potential tying and winning runs on base in the bottom of the seventh after Nikki Creech made it to first on an error by Overbay and Jenkins walked. Kacie Russell hit a one bouncer up the middle on a 3-2 pitch that Overbay grabbed and threw to first to end the game.
“Ashley pitched an excellent game. This is one she has been looking for,” said Harlan coach David Overbay, who is also Ashley’s father. “We were hoping to avoid the heart of their lineup in the seventh, but they got there and Ashley pitched her way out of it.”
“Overbay hit her spots and pitched a great game. My hat is off to Harlan and Overbay. We were sluggish and she stuck it to us,” Harlan County coach Tim McElyea said. “I look forward to seeing them again, but we have some work to do. It’s the mental approach. Everybody else (besides Emily Long) looked defeated at the plate.”
Harlan broke a scoreless tie in the third inning as Haven Saylor singled to lead off and scored on Overbay’s double. Overbay took third on the throw home and scored when Jayda Young grounded out to second base.
“You have to take advantage when you get opportunities in games like this and we ended up with one more than them,” said the Harlan coach. “These girls have never quit. We played a good game. We’ve really worked hard in practice to figure out what we need to do to score runs and we did tonight. We’ve let a couple get away because we couldn’t get key hits. Hopefully, we’re on the right track.”
Long, a sophomore catcher who had the Lady Bears’ only two hits in the first four innings, singled in the fourth. Courtesy runner Shawnee Cress stole second, moved to third on an errant throw and scored on a passed ball.
Jenkins and Russell had the other HCHS hits, both in the fifth inning with back-to-back two-out singles. Hannah Johnson hit a hard grounder back up the middle with courtesy runner Rhileigh Alred on the move, but second baseman Payton Bennett made a nice back-handed stop for a force out at second to end the threat.
Savanna Smith had two singles to lead Harlan at the plate. Overbay had a double, while Saylor and Katelyn Burkhart contributed singles.
“I knew Overbay would have her day one day. The thing that bothers me is how tentative we were,” McElyea said. “We saw some great pitching at Pigeon Forge (Tenn.) and to come out here and perform like this is hard to understand. We’re struggling to find ourselves as a team.”
Harlan (6-2) returns to action Friday at home against Middlesboro. Harlan County (4-4) will travel to a tournament at North Laurel on Friday and Saturday.
Harlan 002 000 0 — 2 5 2
Harlan County 00 100 0 — 1 4 0
Overbay and Cornett; Jenkins and Long. WP — Overbay (6-2). LP — Jenkins (4-4).