Williams’ 2-hit performance helps Jackson eliminate Harlan

Published 9:46 pm Monday, June 3, 2024

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A Harlan offense that rallied late for a win against Middlesboro in the opening round of the 52nd District Tournament, then scored four early runs before holding on to beat Harlan County in the district finals could not get going last Monday in the first round of the 13th Region Tournament at Lynn Camp High School.

Jackson County junior Candice Williams pitched a two-hitter as the Lady Generals pulled away with runs in the last three innings to defeat Harlan 5-2.

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“She’s good. We just couldn’t put any hits together,” Harlan coach David Overbay said. “We had a couple of little miscues, but the girls didn’t quit and stayed right in it. I couldn’t be more proud. We went from five wins to six wins to 14 wins and a district championship. I’m very proud of them. I couldn’t do any of this without our coaches and girls. We’ll miss (senior) Mallory (McNIel) next year. She’s a great kid and will be successful in whatever she decides to do.”

Jackson County’s Josie Starcher broke a scoreless tie with a solo homer to right with two outs in the third inning.

Harlan answered in the fourth inning as Ella Lisenbee tripled to right, then raced home with the tying run on a wild pitch.

The Lady Generals started a two-out rally in the fifth inning with a single by Starcher and double by Blakleyn Fee to knock McNiel out of the game. Jordyn Smith came on to pitch and Baylee Berry to hit a grounder in front of the plate. Lisenbee fielded the ball but had no play on Berry and tried to go home, but her throw was late and then went past catcher Addison Jackson to allow Fee to score for a 3-1 lead.

Williams singled with one out in the sixth, moved to third when the ball got past Gracie Hensley in center and scored on Ella Sallee’s ground out.

Starcher walked in the seventh inning, took second on a wild pitch and scored for the third time on Fee’s single to center.

Harlan got one run back in the bottom of the seventh when Jackson opened the inning with her 10th homer of the season, a blast over the fence in left.

Williams finished off a two-hitter by retiring the next three Harlan hitters. She struck out 10 and walked two.

McNiel gave up three runs on four hits in. 4 2/3 innings, with one strikeout and one walk. Smith allowed two runs on three hits in 2 1/3 innings, with one walk and no strikeouts.

Harlan will bring back a seven-girl senior class next season, and Overbay expects the improvement of recent years to continue.

“I told them we’ll be back. We have to get back to work. We’ve grown a lot. They have a tireless work ethic. They are a great group to coach, and I’m looking forward to next year.”