By Les Dixon
TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY
It looked as if the Knox Central Lady Panthers were going to cruise to an easy win during Thursday’s 51st District showdown with cross-town rival Barbourville.
The Lady Panthers built a 9-1 advantage in the fourth inning only to see it evaporate by the bottom of the sixth thanks to some costly errors, leading to a 9-9 tie going into the final inning.
But Knox Central took advantage of some miscues by Barbourville and managed to pull out a 12-9 win while improving to a perfect 2-0 in 51st Distict play and 7-7 overall.
“This was a good win for us,” Knox Central coach Hector Urbaneja said. “Getting this district win is very good, but we have got to cut down on our errors. You can’t win championships making errors.”
Knox Central pitcher Allison Swafford turned in a solid effort on the mound, striking out 11 batters while allowing only three earned runs in the win.
“I have nothing but good things to say about her,” Urbaneja said. “She pitched great and was fantastic. We have got to do a better job of playing defense behind her, though.”
The Lady Panthers jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning, as Brianna Ledford delivered the big blow in the inning with a two-run single. Ledford finished the game with three hits and three RBI.
Knox Central’s lead grew to 9-1 in the top of the fourth inning, as Ledford’s run-scoring single gave her team even more cushion.
But just when it seemed the Lady Panthers could hit cruise control, Barbourville began to chip away.
The Lady Tigers scored a run in the bottom of the fourth inning and added a couple of more runs in the fifth inning while run-scoring singles by Amber Mills, Brandi Hembree and Bobbie Joe Rudd made the score nine-all in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Knox Central answered with three runs in the top of the seventh inning to wrap up the win. The loss dropped Barbourville to 3-13 on the season and 2-1 against 51st District teams.