It wasn’t as easy as their two regular season meetings, but the Bell County Lady Cats advanced to the 52nd District championship with a 6-2 victory over Harlan in Tuesday’s opening round.
The teams exchanged defensive stands through the first two innings before Bell County took control with four run in the bottom of the third.
Lowe led off the inning with a bunt single. Alisha Russell followed with an infield single. Kristen Slusher then drove in the first run of the game with a single to left field. Alex Gambrel was hit by a pitch in the next at-bat to load the bases with no outs. After a pop out to third, Jessica Sanders reached on an error that allowed Russell to score. Slusher and Gambrel later scored on a sacrifice fly to center field.
The Lady Dragons threatened to close the gap in the top of the fourth. Anna Karst led off the inning with a single up the middle of the infield. Kristina Fields then reached on a fielder’s choice that put Karst out at second. After Jourdan Ledford popped out to second, Madison Brewer reached on a walk. Heather Holland then struck out to end the inning.
Bell County pushed the lead to 6-0 with a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning.
Rachel Yeary reach on a walk and Lowe was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. Russell advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt. Both runners later scored on a throwing error to first base.
Harlan got on the scoreboard with a run in the sixth inning.
Ledford and Brewer each walked to start the inning. Ledford scored when Alyssa Mills delivered a sacrifice fly to center field.
Harlan scored the final run in the top of the seventh.
Noe led off the inning with a double to the center field fence and advanced to third on an error. Noe later scored on a sac fly by Fields.
“I am so proud of what the girls have done this season. They have achieved a lot. From the start of the season to now is a world of difference,” said Harlan coach Scott Lewis. “They never got their head down. That is just a sign of things to come. If they can keep that mentality they will be tough to beat.”
Russell and Lowe had two singles and Slusher added a single to lead Bell County at the plate.
“We were totally unfocused and not ready for the game. If it had been a 6-2 game and we swung the bats well I would have been satisfied, but I wasn’t a bit satisfied,” said Bell County coach J.W. Campbell. “Harlan’s pitcher kept us off-balance, but we shouldn’t have been swinging at the pitches we were swinging at.”
Mills tripled to pace the Harlan offense. Noe added a double, and Karst singled.
Yeary struck out six batters, while scattering three hits in the complete-game victory for Bell County. Brewer recorded five strikeouts in the complete-game loss.
Bell County (26-8) returns to action today against Harlan County in the 52nd District championship. Harlan closes the season at 15-18.
“I just ask that our kids come ready to play. If we lose then I can be satisfied if we play our best game,” Campbell said.
Harlan 000 001 1 – 2 3 3
Bell County 004 200 x – 6 5 3
Brewer and Goins; Yeary and Slusher. WP-Yeary. LP-Brewer.