Lady Cats advance in All A with thriller over Barbourville

If Monday’s season-opener between Lynn Camp and Barbourville is any indication of things to come, local softball fans have a lot to look forward during the 2018 campaign.

Scoring two runs in the game’s final at bat, Lynn Camp battled from behind and won in dramatic fashion, 8-7, in All A action between the two Knox County foes.

Taking advantage of crafty base running and good execution at the plate, Lynn Camp completed the comeback in the bottom of the seventh inning when junior center fielder Erin Holland stole home with the tying run on a fielder’s choice, followed by junior shortstop Makenzie Grant crossing home plate with the game-winner on a single by Katie Miller.

While sorry that either team had to lose in such a hard-fought battle, Lynn Camp Coach Nikki Hendrix was extremely pleased with her team’s will to win and never-say-die attitude.

“I’m so very proud of the girls, because even in that first and second inning, they had some doubt,” she said. “But we kept telling them ‘it’s not over, we’re going to bat, and we’re going to be fine.’ And the girls listened and never gave up.

“Even when we were behind, they were in the huddle talking and being positive,” continued Hendrix. “And I’m so proud because some teams I’ve coached in the past would have put their head down and said I’m done. But not this team. Not tonight. And I’m very proud of them.”

Two innings earlier, Barbourville put together an impressive comeback of it’s own. Trailing 6-3, the Lady Tigers scored four in the fifth inning, including a thrilling two-run home run by Shelbie Jones for the go-ahead runs.

It was one of four lead changes in the fierce battle between the two cross-town rivals, prompting Barbourville Coach Derrick Poff to echo his Lynn Camp counterpart’s sentiment of being proud of his team’s unwillingness to give up.

“Our lead off batter goes four-for-five. We had the big home run shot to center field by Shelbie Jones. Our girls played their guts out the entire game,” said the Barbourville coach. “It just wasn’t meant to be tonight.

“These girls never quit tonight and I’m very proud of that,” continued Poff, while pointing out that’s not always been the case in the past with the Lady Tigers. “What we did tonight, by not giving up, is a lot of hard work starting to show.”

Barbourville drew first blood in the battle with a run in the first inning. Lead off hitter Megan Poff singled and crossed the plate a short time later on an RBI-double by Autumn Hamilton.

The Lady Tigers then turned in a stellar inning defensively with a double-play and inning-ending highlight-reel catch by Mary Gray to maintain their advantage.

The second inning was a bit of deja vu for Barbourville as the Lady Tigers scored another run to go on top 2-0, then held on to the lead with a good effort defensively in the bottom of the inning. Kenzie Hurley singled and scored on an RBI-single by Poff for the Lady Tigers’ run.

Lynn Camp was able to get its first run of the game in the bottom of the second when Grant singled and came around to score on a fielder’s choice on a ball put in play by Miller.

Barbourville threated to blow it open in the third inning when the Lady Tigers loaded the bases. But Lynn Camp pitcher Madyson Roberts kept her poise and worked her way out of the jam with the help of some excellent defensive stops by her teammates.

Not satisfied with the lead, Barbourville kept battling and added another run to it’s advantage in the third inning when Poff singled and came around to score on a base hit by Hamilton.

Lynn Camp got back into the game in the next inning when Holland singled to center, stole second, and later scored on a wild pitch, followed by Grant with a run on a sacrifice by Miller to make it 3-3.

The Lady Cats then exploded for three runs in the fifth inning to take the game’s biggest lead, 6-3. Halle Mills singled. Holland was hit by a pitch. And Kaley Hendrickson’s hit over the infield’s head scored them both. Hendrickson then came home to score on a single by Miller.

But Barbourville came back like nothing had happened and immediately scored four runs in the top of the sixth inning to re-take the lead.

Poff led off the rally with a single, followed by Grace Jones reaching on an error. Both then scored on a two-RBI double by Ally Daniels, her first hit at the varsity level.

Shelbie Jones then catapulted Barbourville into the lead with a monster two-run home run to left center field, giving the Lady Tigers a 7-6 advantage.

With the heart of the lineup up to bat, Lynn Camp executed well at the plate and took some chances on the base paths to complete the come-from-behind win. Holland reached on a walk and stole second. Grant then walked and was part of a double-steal to put both runners in scoring position.

Holland then scored the game-tying run on a steal of home following a fielder’s choice. Grant then put the icing on the cake with the game-winning run on a hard hit to short by Miller.

“Our base running and our speed were big,” said Lynn Camp’s Hendrix. “We knew if we could get Erin and Mac into scoring position that they would have no trouble scoring, and they didn’t.”

Barbourville’s Poff said while losing the first game of the year in such a way is a bummer, he takes a lot of positives from the experience.

“Lynn Camp was ready for us. They are always ready for us every year,” he said. “But we play them three more times this year and we’re looking to win some of those games.”

Lynn Camp had nine hits, including two each from Grant, Miller, and Hailey Mills. Hallee Mills, Holland, and Collett collected one apiece.

Holland and Grant led the way for the winners with three runs each. Halle Mills and Hendrickson scored once each.

Miller led the Lady Cats with four RBI.

Grant and Holland had three stolen bases each for Lynn Camp. Halle Mills swipped one base.

Roberts was solid on the mound, allowing seven runs, only two earned, on 14 hits and three base on balls. She struck out four.

Barbourville pounded out 14 hits in the game, led by Poff with four, Hamilton three, Daniels, S. Jones and Hurley two each, and Lucy Robinson one.

Daniels, Hamilton and S. Jones had two RBI each for the Lady Tigers, while Poff had one.
Poff and Whitney Brock stole one base each for Barbourville.

Hamilton allowed eight runs, five earned, on nine hits in the full-game effort. She walked just three while striking out six.

Barbourville will resume it’s regular-season schedule with a trip to Bell County on March 22. Lynn Camp, meanwhile, will continue All A play as the paper goes to press with a road trip to Jellico, Tennessee on tap for March 22.