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Creech tosses no-hitter against Harlan

Finding a replacement for Destinee Jenkins on the mound was perhaps the biggest question mark surrounding the Harlan County Lady Bears coming into the 2019 season.

Kerrigan Creech has filled that role even better than coach Tim McElyea could have imagined four games into the season. The sophomore right-hander pitched a no-hitter Thursday with six strikeouts and one walk as Harlan County coasted to a 15-0 four-inning victory.

“She’s been hitting her spots and has been throwing well, and that’s the reason we beat Letcher and were in the game with South (Laurel),” said McElyea. “She has been such a pleasant surprise.”

Harlan County (3-1) has also been much better on offense than expected early in the season. The Lady Bears pounded out 15 hits against Harlan’s Payton Bennett. Nikki Creech and Emily Collett led the Lady Bears with a double and two singles each. Hannah Johnson had a double and single while driving in four runs. Destiny Clark singled twice. Allee Galloway and Rhileigh Alred each had a double. Brandy Adams, Emily Evans and Emily Sizemore added one single each.

“What I like is we’re taking the outside pitch the opposite way. I was glad to see that tonight,” McElyea said. “I’m tickled with our start this year as a team. We lost 10 players and we’re competing.”

Nikki Creech opened the game with a single and moved to third when Johnson reached base on an error. Adams’ ground out brought in one run and Collett singled home another.

HCHS loaded the bases in the second inning as Evans walked and Clark and Creech each singled. Johnson brought in all three runners with a single to right field. Adams followed with a single before Collett brought in two runs with a double. Galloway followed with an RBI double for an 8-0 lead.

Kerrigan Creech walked to open the third inning and scored on Clark’s hit. Nikki Creech and Alred followed with RBI doubles. An error brought in another run before Collett followed with an RBI single as the lead grew to 13-0.

Sizemore singled in the fourth inning and scored on Johnson ’s double. Johnson scored the final run on a wild pitch.

Harlan’s only threat came in the second inning when Reagan Jones was safe on an error and Kelllie Bennett was hit by a pitch. Johnson started a double play on a ground ball hit by Kailey Cornett as Jones was called out for running out of the baseline and Johnson then forced out Bennett at second.

Harlan County will be at Barbourville on Monday. Harlan (2-3) plays host to Barbourville on Tuesday.

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Harlan County 265 2 — 15. 15. 1

Harlan 000 0 — 0. 0. 5

K. Creech and Adams; Bennett and Cornett. WP — K. Creech (2-1). Bennett (2-3).