LONDON — In winning their first 10 games, most by wide margins, the Harlan County Lady Bears didn’t often have to concern themselves with mistakes as they pounded opponents into submission.
Playing against good competition over the weekend in the Five Star Prep Showcase, those mistakes made a difference as Lady Bears split four games.
Harlan County (12-2) opened the tournament Friday night with a win over Rowan County, then suffered its first loss on Saturday morning against Somerset. The Lady Bears rolled past Fairdale on Saturday afternoon before finishing the tournament with a 7-4 loss in a rematch against Rowan.
The Lady Bears were their own worst enemy against Rowan, both on defense, with six errors, and on the bases. They may have lost two runs with base-running mistakes, including not tagging up from third base on a fly ball in the fifth inning and having a runner thrown out at home in the sixth inning facing a three-run deficit.
“No excuses, but I think we were dragging. It was our third game of the day, and we were a little worn out,” Harlan County coach Tim McElyea said. “When you play in tournaments, that’s the way it is. We’re not in as good a shape as we thought we were.”
Destinee Jenkins gave up only six hits but was not able to overcome the defensive mistakes in suffering her first loss in 10 decisions. Jenkins struck out five and walked two.
Kacie Russell had a big day at the plate for the Lady Bears with three singles in three at bats, driving in two runs. Hannah Johnson had a double and single. Jessie Johnson and Jenkins added two singles each. Nikki Creech contributed a double.
The Lady Bears scored three runs in the third inning. Hannah Johnson led off with a single and scored on Creech’s double. Jenkins followed with a single. Russell drove in a run with a single, and Tia King brought home another with her ground out to shortstop.
Rowan County scored a run in the fourth inning and two in the fifth to go up 4-3, but the Lady Bears pulled even when Creech walked in the bottom of the inning, then stole second and scored on Russell’s hit.
Rowan won the game with a three runs in the sixth inning. Savannah Hamilton doubled home a run and Sarah Robinson had an RBI single.
The game ended after six innings due to an 80-minute time limit for the tournament.
McElyea wanted to find good competition in the tournament to prepare the Lady Bears for the postseason, and he said that goal was accomplished.
“We came down here and finished 2-2, so it’s not a horrible trip,” McElyea said. “Every club we played was solid. We want to go from this and build on it.”
Harlan County plays host to Hazard on Monday and will travel to Clay County on Thursday in a matchup of two of the 13th Region’s top four teams.
Rowan County* 001* 123* — 7 6 3
Harlan County* 003* 010* — 4 10 6
Pennington and Robinson; Jenkins and King. WP — Pennington. LP — Jenkins (9-1).
Harlan County 8
Rowan County 5
The Lady Bears rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the tournament opener on Friday night, capped by two-run homers in the seventh inning by Farren Clark and Destinee Jenkins.
Harlan County scored four runs in the sixth inning to take a one-run lead, then pulled away in the seventh inning. Jessie Johnson led off be reaching on an error, then scored on Clark’s first high school homer to left field. Nikki Creech beat out a bunt single and coasted home on Jenkins’ blast to center.
Jenkins earned the win on the mound as she pitched a five-hitter with six strikeouts and three walks.
Kacie Russell had a double and single for the Lady Bears. Tia King and Creech added two singles each. Clark and Jenkins each hit homers. Johnson and Haley Blakley added one single each.
Harlan County* 000* 004* 4* — 8 10 5
Rowan County* 110* 100* 2* — 5 5 3
Jenkins and King; Hammond, Jones (5) and Robinson. WP — Jenkins (8-0). LP — Jones. HR – Clark, Jenkins.
Harlan County 2
The Lady Bears suffered their first loss of the season in an early-morning game Saturday as Somerset pulled away with four-run innings in the fourth and sixth.
Clark led the Lady Bears with a triple and single. Creech had two singles. Jenkins contributed a double. Blakley, Johnson and Lainey Cox added singles.
Russell suffered the loss as she gave up nine runs in 5 2/3 innings. Jenkins recorded the final four outs.
Somerset* 001* 404* 0* — 9 8 1
Harlan County* 000* 020* 0* — 2 8 4
Lefevers and Bigelow; Russell, Jenkins (6) and Long. WP — Lefevers. LP — Russell (2-1).
Harlan County 12
The Lady Bears bounced back from their first loss with a blowout win over a Louisville opponent.
Jenkins earned her ninth win of the season by giving up two his in three innings with six strikeouts and no walks. Russell allowed one hit and struck out one in one inning. Rhileigh Alred struck out three and allowed one run on one hit in one inning.
Jenkins also led the HCHS offense with a double and single. Russell singled twice. King had a triple. Blakley and Sidney Kelly contributed singles.
Fairdale* 000* 01* — 1 4 2
Harlan County* 354* 0x* — 12 7 1
Johnstone and Kiefer; Jenkins, Russell (4), Alred (5) and King. WP — Jenkins (9-0). LP — Johnstone.
Reach John Henson at 606-909-4134