By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
CORBIN—You can’t judge Monday’s North Laurel-Corbin game by the final score. The two teams battled for six scoreless innings before the Lady Jaguars broke through with six runs in the top of the seventh for a 6-0 win.
“Both pitcher’s pitched really well. They were hitting their spots. (Corbin’s) Hannah (Hart) was making it difficult for us to hit,” North Laurel coach Becki Osborne said. “We had to go with the pitches and we weren’t going with her pitches.”
Hart allowed six hits, but may not have allowed a run if not for the Lady Redhounds making a pair of errors in the final inning.
“She’s a good pitcher. We got lucky and caught some breaks, some errors,” Osborne said.
Matching Hart pitch for pitch was North Laurel freshman Mikayla Vires. Vires, a late replacement for Megan Baldwin on the mound, allowed five hits in the shutout win.
“At any time we may have to call on her and that’s a lot to put on somebody. Megan usually knows when she’s pitching. With Mikayla it could be a spur of the moment thing,” Osborne said. “She handles that pressure well, for a freshman especially.”
Vanessa Smith had three hits, half of the North Laurel total. She had the first two hits for the Lady Jaguars with singles in the second and fourth innings, but both times she would be left stranded. North Laurel did not advance a runner past second base in the first six innings.
Vires proved even stingier with Corbin base runners. Just three reached base in the first six innings with only Lindsey Barton reaching second base with two outs in the sixth.
“The longer the games go without someone scoring the momentum will shift to the team that scores first. That‘s what it did with us,” Osborne said.
Emily Sears led off the seventh inning with a single despite a diving attempt by the Corbin right fielder. Vires bunted and reached when the throw to first sailed into right field. A bunt by Kayla Huff loaded the bases. Sidney Herrell hit into a fielder’s choice for the first out. McKenzie Mills grounder was misplayed in the infield allowing Vires to score the first run.
“If you have errors against a good team they’re going to capitalize on it. That’s what we did,” Osborne said.
North Laurel wasn’t satisfied with one run. Kailin Yantz ripped a hard single to drive in two more runs.
“She’s hitting the ball well. We tried to tell her at the beginning of the year, don’t try to kill it, you’ve just got to make contact with it. She’s actually developed into a power hitter more than what we thought she was going to,” Osborne said.
Smith followed with a two run single. A sacrifice fly by Blake Johnson scored Smith for the 6-0 lead.
Corbin tried to rally with a pair of singles in the seventh inning. Vires retired the last two batters to end the threat.
“I felt like we played a good game. Our defense was behind our pitcher. Mikayla pitched well. I could ask for a better pitched game from Mikayla,” Osborne said.
North Laurel were scheduled to face another 13th Region rival Tuesday night with a trip to South Laurel.
“South is a good team and it’s a cross town rival so everybody is going to try to play each other s hard as they can,” Osborne said.
The Lady Jaguars will then travel to Madison Southern on Thursday before hosting Scott County Friday. North is just three wins away from becoming the first team in Kentucky to reach 600 win.