The Pikeville team that the Lady Jackets eliminated from last year's tournament knocked Middlesboro out this year by a 3-1 score. The Lady Jackets were sent into the losers' bracket after dropping a 4-3 decision to Louisville Holy Cross. In between, they defeated Bishop Broussart 3-0.
“These are all tight games up here and one error can cost you a ballgame,” Middlesboro coach J.W. Campbell said. “You just can't make mistakes like that and expect to win.”
In Saturday's final game, Pikeville took the lead in the second inning without getting a ball out of the infield.
Lady Panther catcher Samantha Neeley and left fielder Heather Holloway both reached on infield singles that shortstop Sophie Robinson wasn't able to make plays on. Middlesboro pitcher Brooklyn Jimison then retired the lead runner at third after getting Chelsie Lawson to hit a come-backer. After a walk to Ricki Maynard loaded the bases, a run scored when all hands were safe on Olivia Kennedy's grounder to short.
Jimison struck out the next two batters to end the threat.
Pikeville got two more runs in the fifth inning. Two more infield hits - one to second and one to third - was followed by the hardest hit of the game. Emily Colvin's sharp base hit to center rolled past Teresa Gilbert and to the wall. Both runners scored on the error as Colvin made it to third to put Pikeville up 3-0.
The Lady Jackets got their run in the seventh. Jerica Ogle and Britttany Hunter reached on back-to-back infield singles with one out. Ogle was forced out at third on Daven Hart's ground ball. Hunter cam around to score when the shortstop couldn't handle Brandy Anderson's grounder. But that was all Middlesboro could get off of Gooch.
She gave up only four hits, struck out four and didn't walk a batter to get the win. Jimison scattered nine hits (including six infield hits) over seven innings. She struck out eight and walked one. She was charged with two earned runs.
Ogle had two hits for the Lady Jackets, while Jimison and Hunter got one apiece.
Middlesboro jumped out quickly, scoring two runs in the first inning, as they eliminated Bishop Brossart by a 3-0 score.
Robinson walked to lead off the game. She scored one out later on a double by Jimison. Courtesy runner Michelle Whitaker was plated with two outs on a triple by Ogle.
A single by Robinson in the second was the only other Lady Jacket hit in the game.
Their third run scored in the third when Jimison drew a lead off walk. Whitaker ran for her and took second on a passed ball. She went to third on Gilbert's ground out and scored as Hunter reached on a throwing error by the third baseman.
A pair of good defensive plays kept Brossart off the board in their half of the third. After Ashley Baynum reached on an error, Lindsey Bezold attempted a sacrifice bunt with the corner infielders charging on the play. Bezold popped up the the bunt and Middlesboro third baseman Daven Hart turned and made an over-the-shoulder catch in front of the bag. She threw on to first in time to double up Baynum.
Stephanie Smith beat out an infield hit to first base, then Robinson made a nice adjustment on a ground ball by Katie Reilly that deflected off of Jimison. Robinson bare-handed the ball in the hole and threw on to first for the out.
Jimison didn't allow another base runner until Deidesheimer singled in the seventh. But she got her seventh strike out and two ground balls to Hart to end the game. She didn't walk a batter while pitching a two-hitter.
Saturday's first game was the most dramatic, as Holy Cross scored a run with two out in the bottom of the seventh to edge the Lady Jackets 4-3.
Tara O'Bryan doubled to right-center with one out. She moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and then scored on Courtney Roller's ground ball up the middle. Robinson made a diving stop on the ball, but didn't have time to make a throw as the winning run scored.
Middlesboro took a 2-0 lead in the third inning. Hart and Robinson were both hit by pitches, putting runners at first and second with two outs. Kristen Davis reached first and Hart came around to score on a throwing error by the first baseman. After Jimison was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Gilbert delivered a base hit that fell in along the left field line to score Robinson.
Holy Cross tied the game in their half of the third. Jimison had retired the first eight batters to start the game and got Kaylen Willoughby to hit a routine grounder to second, that got through Davis.
Roller singled to right to put runners on the corners and stole second. Jessica McGohon singled to right to score Willoughby and Roller also scored on a throwing error by Hunter.
Catcher Jackie Skaggs tripled to deep center and then scored on Megan Davis' base hit up the middle to put Holy Cross up 3-2 in the fourth. With runners on second and third, Jimison snagged a hard line drive by O'Bryan and struck out Willoughby to keep Middlesboro within a run.
The Lady Jackets tied it in the fifth as Davis beat out an infield hit to third and Jimison singled up the middle to start things off.
Davis came around to score when Willoughby, the second baseman, dropped the throw at first on Gilbert's sacrifice bunt. Whitaker (running for Jimison) was thrown out going for third on the play.
Lefty Leah Bryant kept the Middlesboro hitters off balance throughout the game. None of the runs she allowed were earned as she gave up only three singles over seven innings. Bryant struck out three, walked two and hit four batters.
“She was a good pitcher, but we did what we needed to do against them,” said Campbell. “It was the two-out errors that led to two runs (in the third inning) that got us.”
Middlesboro collected just ten hits over their three games on Saturday.
“We swung at a lot of first pitches (against Pikeville's Gooch). We were hitting her pitches instead of waiting for our pitch,” Campbell said. “She's too good to just go up there and hack away.”
Still, the coach was more troubled by the team's attitude than their approach at the plate.
“It's the same problems we've had with this ball club all year,” Campbell said. “Sometimes they don't play with heart.
“We've got some that don't act like they want to be out there so we're going to make changes and I think we're going to be a better softball team because of it.”
He added that the team was young and would get better as the younger players improve.
“I honestly believe that they could win the whole thing next year,” he said. “We've got some that want to play and we're going to stick with them.”
Middlesboro (18-10) hosts Evarts this evening for senior night.
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Middlesboro 002 010 0 - 3 3 2
Holy Cross 002 100 1 - 4 7 3
Jimison and Ogle; Bryant and Skaggs. W-Bryant. L-Jimison.
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Middlesboro 201 000 x - 3 3 1
Brossart 000 000 0 - 0 2 3
Deidesheimer and Lloyd; Jimison and Ogle. W-Jimison. L-Deidesheimer.
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Pikeville 010 020 0 - 3 9 2
Middlesboro 000 000 1 - 1 4 2
Gooch and Neeley; Jimison and Ogle. W-Gooch. L-Jimison.