Bell County took full advantage of several Harlan miscues Monday to claim a 6-3 victory in the opening round of the 13th Region Tournament at Middlesboro High School.
Harlan (22-7) committed four errors on the day, leading to five unearned Bell County runs.
"Errors killed us," said Harlan coach Chuck Mitchell. "You can't do that in big games against good teams."
Bell County (25-9) committed two errors of its own, but turned in several key defensive plays.
"We made some mental mistakes and had some letdowns," said Bell County coach Jeff Brock. "Whoever we play, they have to do a better job defensively.
"Harlan's got a good team. Coach (Chuck) Mitchell has done a good job up there. They all play hard."
Harlan threatened to take control of the game in the first, loading the bases with no outs as Megan White and Jessica Rice each singled and Julie Thomas drew a walk.
Bell's Erica Baker fanned Courtney Bell for the first out, but Harlan got on the board one batter later as White drew a throw to third from catcher Courtney Evans and scored as third baseman Casey Denny dropped the throw.
But Baker limited the damage as she struck out Rhonda Curtis and got Tierra Sundy to fly out to left to end the inning.
Bell broke through in the third as freshman second baseman Rachel Blank led off with a double to left field. Evans reached on a bunt and Dixon drove in Blank with a groundout to tie the game.
Evans gave Bell the lead as she slid head-first into the plate on a passed ball seconds later.
Bell added to its lead in the fourth as Kristin Baker dropped a single into short left field. Following a Denny groundout for the second out, Partin reached on an error as no one covered first on her bunt. Partin went to second, which was also uncovered on the play. Blank followed with a two-run single up the middle to put Bell on top 4-1.
Harlan got a run in the fifth as White led off with a triple to left field and scored on Rice's groundout. The Lady Dragons cut the lead to a single run in the sixth as Tierra Sundy belted a one-out triple to right and scored on an errant throw to third.
The Lady Cats slammed the door on Harlan's comeback bid in the seventh. Evans led off with a bunt single and Dixon followed with a single to center.
Erica Baker drew a walk to load the bases. Rice got Datina Centers to bounce back to the rubber and threw home to Sundy for one out, but Sundy's throw to first for a potential double play was wide of the bag, allowing Dixon to score.
Turner followed with an RBI single to put the Lady Cats on top 6-3. Baker retired the side in order in the bottom of the inning with three groundouts to cap the game.
Evans led Bell at the plate with three singles and turned an impressive double play in the second inning. The senior made a diving catch on Courtney Bell's popup and came up firing to double Tina Roper off at first.
"Courtney did a great job behind the plate. That double play was in a key situation," said Brock.
Blank added a double and a single for the Lady Cats while Erica Baker and Dixon each singled twice. Kistin Baker and Turner also singled.
White led Harlan with a triple and a single. Sundy added a triple and Rice and Curtis each singled.
"We had a good season. I'm proud of our girls they never quit," said Mitchell. "We won 22 ballgames, won the district title, won all our home games; it was a big year for us."
Bell now advances to today's semifinal round to take on Rockcastle County at 6 p.m.
Bell County 002 200 2 6 11 2
Harlan 100 011 0 3 5 4
E. Baker and Evans; Rice and Sundy. WE. Baker. LRice (11-5).