BARBOURVILLE — The Pineville Lady Mountain Lions punched their ticket back to the 13th Region Tournament on Thursday with a 7-4 win over Barbourville in the first round of the 51st District Tournament.
“It’s really been tough on us because we were so used to getting to the finals and the region in the past when we had Chatman Taylor pitching,” Pineville coach Shari Knuckles said. “Rebecca Lee-Theis has stepped in at the spot as a young pitcher for the past few years. She’s stayed with it and now this is her first time getting us to the district finals.”
The Lady Lions jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the top of the first inning and held on the rest of the way.
Emily Mullins led off the game with a bunt single back on Tuesday before the game was delayed by a severe thunderstorm. Erica Gambrel and Lizzie Lee-Theis both walked and Ali Knuckles just missed a home run when she smacked one off the fence in center field for a two-run hit.
Play picked up on Thursday afternoon and Rebecca Lee-Theis reached on an error in the outfield as another run came home and two more Lady Lions crossed the plate before the inning was over.
“Ali hit that ball over the center fielder’s head and that got us started. We already had two runs on them when we got started today and everybody just kept getting their bats on the ball one right after the other,” Knuckles said. “I kept talking about it being time for us to peak, well we finally reached that peak now in the district.”
Barbourville got singles from Rebecca Bolinger and Amber Mills in their half of the inning and they both came around to score, but Rebecca Lee-Theis held them to just two unearned runs from there.
Lee-Theis went all seven innings to pick up the win. She gave up four runs, two earned on six hits while striking out for, walking two and hitting a batter.
Pineville tacked on another in the third inning as Brooke Sanders singled, advanced to second on an error and then scored on a double by Amy Allen to make it 6-2.
Lady Tiger second baseman Madison Hicks doubled in the bottom of the fourth and scored on an error. But Pineville got that run back in the sixth when Allen reached on an error and then scored all the way from first as Brandy Sanders reached on a throwing error.
A walk and two errors loaded the bases for Barbourville in the bottom of the seventh with one out. Hicks drove in one run with a ground out and Lee-Theis got Bobbi Jo Rudd to ground out to Gambrel at third to end the game.
Knuckles and Mullins both had two singles to lead the Lady Lions offense. Allen doubled while Gambrel, Lizzie Lee-Theis and Brooke Sanders added singles.
“We’ve got two seniors in Ali and Amy and we really wanted to send them out on a good note. They’ve been playing for me since the seventh grade so we were really pushing hard to get them to the finals,” Knuckles added.
Barbourville got a single and a double from Hicks while Bolinger had two hits and Mills and Corey added one each. The Lady Tigers end the season with a record of 5-19.
Pineville (8-12) advances to play Knox Central in the 51st District championship game. The game is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday, but any rain overnight will cause the game to be moved to Sunday. Both of those teams will advance to the 13th Region Tournament, which starts on Monday at North Laurel.
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Pineville………501 001 0 — 7 7 6
Barbourville…200 100 1 — 4 6 4
Rebecca Lee-Theis and Brooke Sanders; Hannah Corey and Amber Mills. W-Lee-Theis. L-Corey.