LONDON — Hannah Hart put a damper on the Middlesboro Lady Jackets’ return to the 13th Region Tournament. The junior fired a two-hitter to lead Corbin to a 5-1 win over MHS in Monday’s first round game.
“In my opinion, she’s probably the best in the region. And I think most of the other coaches will probably agree with me,” Lady Jacket coach Luster Powers said of Hart. “When she’s one, she’s on. At Middlesboro we caught her on an off day and good pitchers usually don’t have but one or two of those a year. I knew this game was going to be a battle and it was.”
The Lady Redhounds took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning. Katie Bernardo reached on an error, went to second on Sydney Reynolds sacrifice bunt and to third on a ground out by Amber Allen. Kaitey Jackson drew a two-out walk and Lindsey Barton delivered an RBI single.
Two more Middlesboro errors led to two more Corbin runs in the third. Kelley Farley reached on an error in the outfield and came in to score as Whitley Gatliff also reached on a throwing error after laying down a bunt. Gatliff went to third on a Callie Schoolcraft ground out and later scored on a two-out single to center by Allen to make it 3-0.
In the fourth inning Barton walked, advanced to third on Gatliff’s two-out single, and scored on a passed ball.
Meanwhile, Hart was cruising. She retired the first 13 batters she faced before Laura Durham dropped a single in just over the shortstop’s head with one out in the fifth. Savanna Miracle followed with a hard liner to right that skipped past the outfielder and rolled to fence as courtesy runner Shae Moyers scored from first.
“Savanna has hit the ball good all year long. Laura has hit it good, too, and they got us going a little bit,” Powers said. “We’ve have everybody hit it good, but we just ran up against a buzz-saw today.”
Hart shook off those two hits and didn’t let another Lady Jacket reach base the rest of the way.
Corbin picked up an insurance run in the seventh as Farley singled and later scored from second with two outs when Bernardo’s flair into shallow right popped out of MHS second baseman Tiffany Howerton’s glove.
Hart went all seven innings and gave up just the one run on two hits while striking out two and not walking a batter.
“Her ball was moving good and when it’s moving like that it’s hard to get a solid swing on it. That made the difference,” said Powers.
Jessica Carter took the loss for Middlesboro. She was charged with four runs, one earned, on four hits before leaving the game in the fourth inning with cramping in her back. Makayla Partin worked the final 3-1/3 and allowed one unearned run on one hit.
“She was cramping pretty bad and I had to take her out. I told her that hopefully we’d come back and win it and she would be able to throw tomorrow,” Powers said. “She threw good the first couple of innings and it must have started bothering after that because she started losing velocity and they started hitting her.”
While Middlesboro committed five errors in the game, the Lady Jackets also turned in their share of strong plays. Durham threw out a Corbin runner going for second in the first inning. Later in the inning Carter fielded a come-backer and threw to third to retire the lead runner and the Lady Redhounds wouldn’t score in the frame.
Senior Kelsie Hensley kept up her outstanding play in left field with a total of four putouts, including one catch sliding on her knees into foul territory and another while running an a dead spring into shallow left-center. In addition she was able to cut off a couple of base hits and keep the runner from taking an extra base. For her efforts, Hensley was named as Middlesboro’s representative on the 13th Region All-Tournament Team.
Corbin (20-13) advances to play Clay County in the semifinals today at 6 p.m. The Lady Tigers scored four runs in the 8th inning to beat Knox Central 5-1 in their first round game.
The Lady Jackets end the season with a record of 20-10. It was the final game for seniors Hensley, Megan Prater, Carissa Padgett, Miracle, Charlesa Witherspoon and Christina Reynolds.
This has been a special group for Powers to work with as the team came together to win the 52nd District championship and advance to the region for the first time since 2009. The coach was feeling pretty emotional after the game and wasn’t able to comment on that aspect of season.
“You’ll just have to fill in the blanks,” he said.
While the seniors will definitely be missed, the Lady Jackets return seven players with starting experience for 2014 and appear poised to make a strong run at repeating in the 52nd District.
— — —
Corbin…………012 100 1 — 5 5 0
Middlesboro…000 010 0 — 1 2 5
Hart and Scholcraft; Carter, Partin (4) and Durham. W-Hart. L-Carter.