Kittens find winning note with Harmon(y), defense. Sophomore posts complete-game win over Lions

Apr. 24—CANNONSBURG — Ashland recorded straight numbers on the scoreboard at Boyd County on Tuesday night.

The Kittens never showed signs of breaking in the field behind starting pitcher Riley Harmon. The sophomore starter went the distance, giving up just four hits, one earned run and retired the final nine batters she faced in a 3-1 road win over the Lions.

"I told her to just throw strikes," Ashland coach Scott Ingram said. "Let's not just give it to them. We make them hit it and we will feel confident. Obviously, you have to be careful with a lot of their kids but when we hit spots and make plays, I like our chances against anybody."

Ashland recorded a spotless game in the error column. Each fielder did her job, including Jenna Delaney, who would not let anything get by her at the hot corner at third base.

"I could call her Brooks Robinson, but she wouldn't have any idea who that is," Ingram said with a grin. "I could move to Mike Schmidt, no. Chipper Jones would be doubtful. She played a heck of a game. We had players make outstanding plays everywhere."

A steady defense can be a confidence booster for a pitcher in the circle. Harmon never appeared to show any signs of wavering in her fourth start of the season. The hurler remains ready when her number is called on to pitch.

"I just want to hit my spots," Harmon said, "and make them swing. I just do the best that I can.

"I definitely had to know what (Boyd County's) pitch is (tonight), whether it was outside high or low. I just had to make sure not to put it where they could hit it over the fence."

With Harmon in the circle, it changes the defensive look for the Kittens. Ingram felt Harmon brought plenty of poise to the circle against the Lions.

"I felt like that the way Riley was throwing," Ingram said, "I mean, it was just her fourth start and it was against Boyd County. She only had two walks. It was a great effort. I thought once we got through that first inning, and got rid of the nerves, she would be good. After that, you can just turn it over to our defense."

Ashland put up a run in each of the first two innings. Delaney went the opposite way, hitting a single through the infield to bring Brookelyn Duckwyler home. Ashley Ingram walked in the second frame and advanced on a wild pitch. Aubrey McCreary lined an RBI single to right field to double the Kittens' lead to 2-0.

It was the second time in seven days that the district foes met on the softball field. The Lions also claimed a road win after defeating Ashland, 4-2 on April 16.

"We had much better at-bats this week," Scott Ingram said. "Although Lacyn Black threw excellent as well. You can't fault her effort. We had quality at-bats. The approach is the same no matter who we are facing."

Boyd County (14-12) looked to gain momentum in the fourth inning. Myla Hamilton parked a solo home run to begin the frame. It gave the Lions their first hit of the contest.

Savanna Henderson and Grace Stephens followed with singles. The runners tried to stretch out another base but both were caught in rundowns, allowing Ashland to pull off a double play.

"It was a big momentum swing right there," Boyd County coach Lance Seasor said. "We had three base hits in a row. We ran ourselves out of an inning and potentially had two on and nobody out. We were looking at scoring more. It was a big turning point in the game. I like aggressiveness but we just have to be selective when we do it."

Black found her rhythm in the circle and only gave up two hits and a run over her final four innings of work. Seasor said it's all part of the growth process when young teams play quality competition.

"She pitched good enough to win," Seasor said. "We've got to be able to hit a little bit and put the ball in play a little more than we did. I was OK with our pitching and defense. We just have to have a better approach at the plate."

"Any time we can put our girls in a tough situation, they are going to come out the other side better," he added. "It's what we are doing by playing the schedule that we are playing. We will see where it ends up. Hopefully, it will have them ready and prepared for tournament play."

Duckwyler added an insurance run for Ashland (9-8) after a solo shot in the seventh inning that cleared the fence in straightaway center field.

Maddie Badgett had a single for the Lions. Duckwyler scored twice for the Kittens. Delaney was 2 for 4 at the plate.

Ashland has won five of their last seven games.

"We are all on a high right now," Harmon said. "We are excited after this win."

ASHLAND 110 000 1 — 3 7 0

BOYD CO. 000 100 0 — 1 4 1

Harmon and Duckwyler; Black and Kouns. W—Harmon. L—Black. HR—Hamilton (BC), Duckwyler (A).

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