Jay Compton|Daily News
Harlan County shortstop Katelyn Stittums snags a liner in front of second base and turns to try and tag Bell County Jess Sanders on the play. Stittums singled, walked, reached on an error and was hit by a pitch in her four plate appearances in Harlan County's 4-3 loss at Bell County.
The Bell County Lady Cats were held to just four runs, all in the third inning. But that turned out to be all they needed as the Lady Cats worked their way out of a few early jams and held off Harlan County 4-3 to improve to 2-0 in district play.
“This is a big win and I’m really proud of our girls. We minimized our errors — we still had an error or two, but they kept battling like they wanted to win this game. They showed themselves what they can do if they put their mind to it,” Bell coach Angie Hammons said. “We’ve been preaching hustle and heart and that’s what they gave us tonight.”
It was the Lady Bears that drew first blood with a run in the first. Katelyn Stittums singled to lead off the game and pitcher Katie Johnson reached on an error and Savannah Sergent walked to load the bases. Stittums was thrown out trying to score on a passed ball but Bridget Robinson delivered an RBI single for a 1-0 lead. The Lady Cats were also able to cut down another runner after getting a ground out to end the inning.
Harlan County added another run in the third. Stittums was hit by a pitch and consecutive fielder’s choice grounders had Sergent on with two out. Robinson walked, Tia King was hit by a pitch to load the bases and Sergent scored on a Ferren Clark hit.
Johnson limited the Lady Cats were limited to just a Jess Sanders walk over the first 2-2/3 innings, but the top of the order came through their second time around. Hillary Lowe singled with two down in the third and Shasta Centers belted an RBI double to center. Morgan Garnett followed with an RBI single to tie the game and Sanders walked again. Haley Goodman sent a hard grounder past first base for a two-run, two-base error and a 4-2 Bell County lead.
That was all that Johnson would allow as she gave just the two earned runs on four hits over six innings with seven strikeouts and five walks.
“In the district (tournament) game last year she had 13 strikeouts, so I’m really proud of our girls. They hit her really well tonight,” Hammons added.
Harlan County got one run in the fifth as Sergent singled with out one and then scored on Robinson’s RBI double, but Garnett held the Lady Bears off the board from there.
Garnett scattered seven hits over seven innings while allowing three runs, two earned. She struck out three, walked four and hit two.
“Morgan did an excellent job. She got a little frustrated there with the bases loaded, but she didn’t give up and we got the outs. I’m really proud of our girls, offensively and defensively.”
The Lady Bears’ other hits were singles by Johnson and Sarah Evans. Bell County also got a single from Sanders.
Both teams return to action today with Harlan County (3-7, 1-1 in district play) hosting Harlan while Bell County (2-5, 2-0) takes on Clay County at home.
— — —
Harlan Co. 101 010 0 — 3 7 1
Bell Co. 004 000 x — 4 4 3
Johnson and Robinson; Garnett and Sanders. W-Garnett. L-Johnson.