When it comes to the 52nd District Tournament, the Harlan County Lady Bears just know how to win. The two-time defending district champions picked up their fifth straight tournament victory Tuesday knocking off second-seeded Middlesboro 4-1.
The Lady Bears took the momentum early with three runs in the first inning, and the Lady Jackets were never able to escape from the deficit.
“Getting off to a good start was my biggest concern. If we get off to a good start we can play, if we don’t then we go into a funk,” said Harlan County coach Howard White.
Katie Johnson opened the first inning with a single to center field. Kaitlyn Stittums followed with a walk. Megan Ramsey drove in the first run with a single to right field. Stittums scored when Savannah Sergent hit into a fielder’s choice. Ramsey scored the final run of the inning on a fielder’s choice when Bethany Bellofatto grounded out to first base.
“We lost it in the first inning. I think after we came out and didn’t hit the ball good (in the bottom of the inning) we got down,” said Middlesboro coach Luster Powers. “We finally started hitting a little about the third or fourth inning, but we waited a little too late to get started. We had some key hits to get us started, but just couldn’t capitalize on it.”
After three scoreless innings, the Lady Bears pushed the lead to 4-0 with a run in the fifth inning.
Jessie Johnson led off the inning with a walk. Amber Creech then delivered a single up the middle of the infield. Jessie Johnson later scored when Katie Johnson grounded out to short.
Middlesboro scored its only run in the seventh inning.
Makayla Partin advanced to third when a pair of Harlan County players collided in right field on a pop fly. Partin scored on a throwing error on the play.
Katie Johnson was dominant on the mound for Harlan County. The junior struck out seven batters, while allowing no walks and scattering just three hits in the complete-game victory.
“Katie did a great job. You can’t ask for more than that,” White said. “It’s a big plus to have somebody that has been in those tight situations.”
Lindsay Durham gave up five walks and four hits in the loss for Middlesboro.
“Lyndsey struggled a little through the first couple of innings, but she settled down and pitched good,” Powers said.
Ramsey, Bellofatto, Creech and Katie Johnson each singled to lead Harlan County at the plate.
“We have been working on being patient and getting a good pitch. We got the bat on the ball, a lot of them were just right to them,” White said.
Taylor Powers singled twice to pace the Lady Jackets. Erica Johnson added a single.
“Taylor had a good game at the plate. She struggled in the last game on senior night, but she came back tonight and hit real well,” Powers said.
Harlan County (16-13) returns to action today against Bell County in the championship at 6 p.m., Middlesboro closes the season at 11-19.
“We will come out here tomorrow and take our shot and see what happens,” White said. “We’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain. You never know what will happen.”
Harlan County 300 010 0 - 4 4 2
Middlesboro 000 000 - 1 3 2
K. Johnson and Robinson; Durham and Bolton. WP-K. Johnson. LP-Durham.