The Middlesboro Lady Jackets took advantage of some errors and pounded out seven hits on their way to a 12-2 five-inning win over Bell County in the season opener for both teams on Tuesday.
“The field was in pretty good shape and we were able to get it ready to go (after Monday’s rain). I’m just glad to get started playing and I know the girls are, too,” Lady Jacket coach Luster Powers said. “We didn’t play our best softball. There were some base running mistakes that were probably my fault. But we’ll learn from this and move on to the next one.”
Makayla Partin was strong in the pitcher’s circle as both runs she allowed were unearned. The junior scattered five hits while striking out eight and walking on in five innings.
Bell County threatened in the top of the first inning. Senior shortstop Courtney Cinnamon and junior catcher Jess Sanders both had infield singles and Beverley Burkhart reached on a throwing error. Cinnamon nearly scored on the play, but Lady Jacket right fielder Madison Shields hustled in to back up the play and was able to throw home just in time for Laura Durham to tag Cinnamon out at the plate.
Middlesboro put up two runs in their half of the first. Bailey Hensley reached on an error and one out later Lauren Spurlock singled to put runners at the corners. Spurlock stole second and Hensley was able to score on a throwing error as Spurlock went to third. Shea Moyers followed with fly ball to center that was deep enough to score Spurlock.
The Lady Cats got one run back in the top of the second. Sarah Collins reached on an error and Whitney Mullins reached on a fielder’s choice grounder as Collins was retired at second. Courtney Baker walked and the runners moved up on a wild pitch with two out. Kadi Cordell then just beat out an infield single to bring Mullins home to make it 2-1.
“About half of our lineup is brand new to us and with the girls’ basketball team going pretty far in the region we’ve not had a whole lot of time with them,” Lady Cat coach Matt Hammons said. “Truth be told, I’m extremely proud of how they fought. They’re very coachable kids.”
The Lady Jackets broke the game open with four runs in their half of the second. Destiny Ford singled through the left side to bring home Partin. Durham hit into a fielder’s choice grounder as Jessica Carter scored. Hensley and courtesy runner Amanda Biscardi both came around to score as Spurlock reached on an outfield error to stretch the lead to 6-1.
“We’ve not seen a whole lot of live pitching and it took us a little while to adjust,” Powers said. “We still didn’t hit the ball as hard as we can, but it’s a district win and we’ll take it and move on.”
Sanders ripped a double down the third base line to lead off the Bell third. She went to third on Burkhart’s ground-out and then scored when Alexis Williams reached on an error.
“That just shows what (Sanders’) potential is. She’s come in cold from basketball and had three hits. Once the weather warms up and we get her swinging the bat a little more, she’s going to be one of our RBI leaders,” Hammons said.
Baker pitched around an error in the bottom of the third, but Middlesboro exploded for six runs in the fourth.
Spurlock and Shields both had two-run singles and Partin added an RBI base hit. She later scored on a passed ball to make the score 12-2.
Sanders tripled with on out in the top of the fifth, but Partin came back to get a strike out and then field a come-backer to end the game.
“Makayla struggled a bit over the first few innings and we made a few errors behind her. But she’s a battler and she hung in there and the last couple of innings went pretty good,” Powers added.
Middlesboro (1-0) plays at Barbourville on Thursday while Bell County (0-1) hosts Knox Central on Friday.
— — —
|Courtney Baker and Jess Sanders; Makayla Partin and Laura Durham. W — Partin. L — Baker.|