Harlan ends 9-game district tourney skid

Published 12:40 am Tuesday, May 22, 2018

LOG MOUNTAIN — If none of the current Harlan Lady Dragons can remember the last time that Harlan qualified for the 13th Region Tournament and played in a district championship game there’s a good reason for it — they were in kindergarten or preschool at the time.

Harlan earned its first trip to the regional tournament since 2006 and ended a string of nine straight first-round losses with an 11-3 win Monday over Middlesboro in the first round of the 52nd District Tournament at Bell Central Elementary School. Harlan hadn’t won a 52nd District Tournament game since beating Cawood 11-1 in the first round in 2008, in the days when the district had six teams. Harlan beat Cumberland 5-4 in the 2006 semifinals, earning a trip to the district finals before falling 1-0 to MIddlesboro in the championship game.

“I have no clue how long it’s been, but our goal all year has been to win the district championship, the same as last year,” Harlan coach David Overbay said. “When these girls want to play they can play.”

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Harlan (14-6) benefited from another strong effort on the mound by senior lefthander Ashley Overbay, who worked out of jams in the first and second innings before settling in to scatter eight hits while striking out eight and walking none.

“We’ve rode her all year. She has a lot of poise,” Overbay said of his daughter. “I’m proud of all of them. We made a few mistakes, but they didn’t let it get them down.”

Katelyn Burkhart led the Harlan offense with a triple and single, driving in two runs in a four-run fourth inning to put the Lady Dragons ahead to stay after an early 2-1 deficit. Angel Wynn, starting in place of an injured Peyton Bennett, had a double and single, as did Savanna Smith.

“That was a big hit, and Katelyn is capable of that,” Overbay said. “Angel Wynn also had a big hit for us.”

Haven Saylor, Kaytlin Cornett and Jayda Young each added one single for Harlan.

Jamayha Poe closed her Middlesboro career with a three-hit night, including an inside-the-park homer along with two singles in three at bats. Megan Gent had a double. Aubrey Sowders and Shelby Frazier added singles for the 11-13 Lady Jackets, who will miss the regional tournament for the first time since 2012.

Hannah McCullough gave up 11 runs on eight hits in five-plus innings on the mound. Macy Mink allowed one hit as she pitched the final inning.

Harlan took a 1-0 lead in the second inning as Smith was hit by a pitch to lead off and came home on a double in the left-center gap by Wynn.

Middlesboro threatened in both the first and second innings before Overbay worked out of trouble. She wasn’t as fortunate in the third inning after two straight errors set up an RBI ground out by Brooke Foister to tie the game.

Poe and Frazier had hits in the fourth inning as the Lady Jackets went back up by one on a wild pitch.

Burkhart’s triple put Harlan ahead, then she scored on a wild pitch. Hannah Jones walked and scored on Saylor’s single.

Smith had an RBI double and Burkhart added an RBI single in the fifth as the lead grew to 7-2.

Poe’s inside-the-park homer came with one out in the sixth as the Harlan outfielders took their time running down the shot to the gap and paid for it as the senior shortstop raced around the bases.

Cornett, Smith, Young and Wynn had hits in a four-run sixth inning. Burkhart closed the scoring with a sacrifice fly.

Harlan will play Harlan County on Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the district finals.


Top-seeded Harlan County rolled into the championship game with a 15-0 rout of Bell County in the opening game

“It was a good warm-up for tomorrow’s championship,” Harlan County coach Tim McElyea said. “I’m glad everybody got to play and contribute. We know it will be tough tomorrow. I think we’re peaking at the right time. I hope it will show tomorrow.”

Destinee Jenkins faced only one batter over the minimum in four innings as Baylee Allen was safe on an error with two outs in the third inning to spoil a perfect game. The senior righthander struck out six and walked none.

“She had good velocity and that sets up everything else she has,” McElyea said.

Reagan Robbins started on the mound for Bell, giving up four runs on four hits in 1 1/3 innings. Makaya Baker allowed 11 runs on eight hits in 2 1/3 innings.

Freshman second baseman Brandy Adams led Harlan County’s 12-hit attack with a triple and two singles. Nikki Creech added three singles, all perfectly executed bunts. Kacie Russell and Jenkins each had a double and single. Hannah Johnson and Emily Long each contributed one single.

Johnson and Adams each had RBI singles in the first inning as Harlan County grabbed a 2-0 lead.

Creech also started the second inning with a bunt single and moved up on Jenkins’ hit. Two runs scored on a wild throw on a steal attempt. Russell followed with a double before another error led to the third run of the inning. Adams tripled home a run for a 7-0 lead after two innings.

HCHS added five more runs in the third inning with the aid of two errors on the first two batters. Creech, Jenkins and Russell followed with consecutive hits. Johnson drove in a run with a groundout. Long followed with an RBI single for a 12-0 lead after three innings.

Baker got the first two outs in the fourth inning before two walks and two errors gave the Lady Bears a chance to end the game via the 15-run mercy rule. Adams was safe on an infield hit to drive home the 15th and final run.


Bell County 000 0 — 0 0 8

Harlan County 255 3 — 15 12 1

Robbins, Baker (2) and Napier; Jenkins and Long. WP — Jenkins (12-9). LP — Robbins.


Middlesboro 001 101 0 — 3 8 4

Harlan 010 424 x — 11 9 3

McCullough, Mink (6) and Foister; Overbay and Cornett. WP —Overbay (14-6). LP — McCullough.