Tim McElyea doesn’t know how long his Harlan County Lady Bears can continued the torrid pace they’ve set on offense to start the 2016 season. He just wants to enjoy it while it lasts.
Harlan County improved to 4-0 and reached double digits in scoring for the fourth straight time in rolling past visiting Knox Central 15-5 in five innings on Monday.
“Usually pitching is ahead of hitting. We’ve faced a couple of quality arms out of four games, but all our girls are hitting it, even the girls coming off the bench,” McElyea said. “I just hope it keeps up. We haven’t faced that great arm yet, but you have to be pleased as a coach. We’re hitting it well.”
The Lady Bears pounded out 12 hits against Knox Central’s Hallie Gambrel, led by leadoff hitter Farren Clark with three singles. HCHS hit the ball up and down the lineup as Kate Evans and Autumn Dunaway each had two hits out of the ninth spot in the order. Destinee Jenkins contributed a double. Nikki Creech, Kacie Russell, Lainey Cox, Mikayln Foutch and Jessie Johnson added one single each.
Russell earned the win on the mound as she scattered nine hits while striking out three and walking none.
“She threw strikes and did a nice job,” McElyea said. “Knox Central put the ball in play, but we made most of the plays on defense. If we play defense behind her, Russell will hold you down.”
Knox Central broke through for three runs in the first inning, all coming after the first two batters were retired. Sarah Swafford doubled and Madison Hicks followed with a single. Meredith Russell singled home one run. Two other runs came home when Jessie Johnson was unable to field a ground ball hit by Cassie Hale.
Harlan County exploded for 10 runs in the bottom of the first with the help of three errors. Clark led off with a single, and Creech, Russell and King followed with walks to force in a run. Cox was safe on an error to bring in one run. Haley Blakley’s RBI ground out tied the game. Jessie Johnson was safe on an error to bring in the go-ahead run. Evans beat out an infield hit to keep the inning alive, setting the stage for an RBI single by Clark and a two-run hit by Creech. Jenkins doubled in a run, and Russell singled to left, allowing another run to score when the ball bounced away from Hicks.
The Lady Bears added four more runs in the second inning as Cox led off with a single and Blakley walked before Jessie Johnson brought in a run with a sacrifice fly. Evans then singled home a run. Two more runs scored on a wild pitch followed by an error for a 14-3 lead.
Knox Central picked up a run in the fourth inning as Hale singled and came home on Tawney Nelson’s double.
The Lady Panthers added another run in the fifth inning on singles by Haley Golden, Swafford and Russell.
HCHS ended the game with consecutive two-out hits by Foutch, Jessie Johnson and Dunaway.
Harlan County returns to action Tuesday at Claiborne, Tenn.
Knox Central* 300* 11* — 5 9 5
Harlan County* (10)40* 01* — 15 12 2
Gambrel and Jones; Russell and King, Long (3). WP — Russell (1-0). LP — Gambrel.
Harlan County posted a pair of impressive wins Saturday afternoon at Corbin, outslugging Southwestern 12-9 before routing Corbin 13-2.
Destinee Jenkins drove in four runs with a double and two singles to lead the HCHS offense. Farren Clark added a triple and single. Nikki Creech singled twice. Kacie Russell and Tia King each drove in three runs on one double each. Hannah Johnson also had a double. Haley Blakley and Jessie Johnson added one single each.
Jenkins earned the win on the mound as she gave up six runs on four hits in four innings, with two strikeouts and two walks. Russell allowed three runs on three hits in three innings, with three strikeouts and no walks.
Emory Wilds and Holly Bunch had two hits each to lead Southwestern.
Clark had four hits in four at bats to lead HCHS against Corbin. Jenkins drove in four runs with a triple, double and single. Lainey Cox drove in four runs with a double and two singles, plus two stolen bases. Jessie Johnson drove in four runs with two singles. Creech drove in two runs with a double and single. Haley Johnson had two RBI on two singles. Blakley, Autumn Dunaway and Regan Caudill added one single each.
Jenkins pitched a three-hitter with four strikeouts and no walks to earn her third win.
Harlan County 104 101 5 — 12 12 5
Southwestern 102 101 4 — 9 7 3
Jenkins and King; Cook and Bunch. WP — Jenkins (2-0). LP — Cook.
Harlan County 330 031 3 — 13 19 2
Corbin 000 100 1 — 2 3 4
Jenkins and King; McDaniel and Price. WP — Jenkins (3-0). LP — McDaniel.
Reach John Henson at 606-909-4134