Even though the season is just over a week old, it’s beginning to appear as if the Harlan County Lady Bears have found both on offense and an ace.
Harlan County ran its record to 2-0 with an 8-0 win Tuesday over visiting Cumberland Gap, Tenn., following its 16-3 victory last week over Leslie County with a similar approach, combining good hitting with solid defense and surprisingly dominant pitching.
Eighth-grader Destinee Jenkins, who allowed only three hits against Leslie County, was even better Tuesday with a two-hit shutout that included seven strikeouts and three walks.
“She controlled the outer half of the plate and threw some good changeups tonight,” Harlan County coach TIm McElyea said. “She threw a shutout against a fairly good hitting team. I can’t say enough about her and her ability to come back and throw strikes when she got behind.”
Harlan County collected eight hits against Cumberland Gap’s Genna Lake, led by senior shortstop Kaitlynn Stittums, who had a triple and double and scored three runs from the leadoff spot, including a head-first dive into third base that would have made Pete Rose proud.
“She’s one of the best in the region. She has great speed, and we can do a lot of things with her,” McElyea said. “They took away the bunt, but she stepped up and hit it hard. I was hollering for her to get down going into third, but you don’t see too many head-first slides like that. It was a good one.”
Third baseman Farren Clark and first baseman Savannah Sergent, the second and third hitters in the lineup, each added two singles. Tia King and Bridgett Robinson contributed one single each.
“I’m just trying to get them into good counts and we’re being aggressive,” McElyea said. “
Jenkins limited the Lady Panthers to two hits, sharp singles by Mackenzie Miracle in third inning and Lake in the fifth. Jenkins received plenty of support from her defense as King had a running catch of a shot hit by Miracle to end the fifth inning and Stittums grabbed a line drive off the bat of Jordan Thacker to end the sixth.
“We had good pitching and defense,” McElyea said. “The girls made some good plays behind Destinee.”
Stittums scored the game’s first run after reaching on error to open the first inning. She scored on Sergent’s single. Sergent came home on an error on a ball hit to center by Robinson.
Cumberland Gap had two more errors in the second inning, leading to three HCHS runs. Mallory Johnson reached base on an error and scored on Stittums’ triple. Stittums stayed at third on Clark’s bloop single but scored on another Sergent RBI hit. Jenkins’ bases loaded walk pushed the lead to 5-0.
Stittums doubled to start the third inning, and Clark followed with a walk. Both scored when Cumberland Gap second baseman Julia Satterfield was unable to field a grounder hit by Sergent.
Clark singled in the fifth inning and scored Harlan County’s final run on King’s single.
Harlan County (2-0) plays host to Lee, Va., on Tuesday.
Cumberland Gap, Tenn. 000 000 0 — 0 2 5
Harlan County 232 010 x — 8 8 3
Lake and Pittman; Jenkins and Robinson. WP — Jenkins (2-0). LP — Lake.