Lady Bears answer Knox’s rally with final eight runs in victory


Kim Henson

Hailey Austin slid safely into third base during Harlan County’s win over Knox Central on Monday. Austin drove in three runs with three singles as HCHS improved to 3-0.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

Harlan County ran its record to 3-0 and avenged another loss from the 2022 season in the process in defeating visiting Knox Central 11-4 on Monday.
The Lady Bears showed they could handle some adversity as they watched a 3-0 lead turn into a 4-3 deficit before scoring two runs in the fourth inning and six in the fifth.
“When Knox took the lead on us, I knew we allowed them to transfer the momentum of the game. That’s when we had to decide we wanted it more than them. I left the field tonight seeing growth from our girls compared to last season,” Harlan County coach Shelby Burton said. “We didn’t hang our heads, but fought back even harder on both ends of the field.”
Senior third baseman Hailey Austin was the leader for the HC offense with three singles and a walk for three RBI. Jade Burton added a double and single with two RBI. Lesleigh Brown also drove in two runs with two singles. Maddy Blair also had two singles. Brittleigh Estep had a double, Rylie Maggard and Halle Raleigh added one single each.
Blair earned her third win of the season as she gave up two runs on two hits in 4 2/.3 innings, with one strikeout and no walks. Estep started in the circle and allowed two runs on three hits in 2 1/3 innings, with three strikeouts and two walks.
Hannah Melton singled twice for the 1-2 Lady Panthers. Jayme Swafford added a double. Aubrey Jones and Catori Bunch contributed one single each.
HCHS took a 3-0 lead in the first inning as Blair opened with a single and scored on Burton’s hit. Jenna Wilson followed with an RBI ground out, then Halanah Shepherd brought in a run with a sacrifice fly.
Swafford had a two-run double in the third inning as Knox pulled even before taking the lead at 4-3 on Bunch’s hit in the fourth inning.
The Lady Bears put together a two-out rally in the bottom of the fourth as Austin singled home two runs after hits by Raleigh and Blair.
Brown singled home two runs in the fifth inning, then Blair reached on an error to bring in two more. Austin’s RBI single and Burton’s RBI double closed the scoring.
The Lady Bears return to action Tuesday at home against Whitley County.
Knox Central 003 100 0 — 4. 5. 2
Harlan County 300 260 x — 11 12. 2
Thacker, Jones (5) and Melton; Estep, Blair (3) and Burton. WP — Blair (3-0). LP — Thacker.


Lesleigh Brown had two hits and drove in two runs on Monday during Harlan County’s 11-4 win over visiting Knox Central (Kim Henson)