The draw for the 13th Region softball tournament was held Friday and the Bell County Lady Cats will be taking on 51st District champion Knox Central in the final first round game Monday at 6 p.m. The tournament is being held at South Laurel this year.
Monday’s other first round games will have Harlan County (17-13) vs. 51st runner up Barbourville (8-15) at noon, 49th District champ North Laurel (32-5) vs. 50th runner up Corbin (20-15) at 2 p.m., and 50th champ South Laurel (23-12) vs. 49th runner up Clay County (23-8) at 4 p.m.
“It really couldn’t have went much better for us as far as the draw goes,” Lady Cat coach J.W. Campbell said. “North and South are still the cream of the crop until someone beats them. They both have nice teams and if we’re lucky enough to win our first game we’ll probably be playing South in the second round.”
Bell County (25-9) defeated the Lady Panthers (11-10) 7-0 last week in their regular season finale.
“We played Knox Central just a week ago and we played pretty well, but they are capable of beating us. As long as we come focused, we’ll be fine. I still feel good about our team,” Campbell added.
He also said he felt good about his team being able to bounce back after Wednesday’s 6-1 loss to Harlan County in the 52nd District championship game.
“Harlan County out-played us in every facet of the game and you have to give them credit for that. I don’t think they could have played a better game and at the same time our focus at the plate was very poor. When you strike out 11 times you don’t give yourself a chance. I think we started to press after the first inning and then our emotions started to get the best of us,” Campbell said.
“I expect us to bounce back just fine, we have all year. This time of year everybody wants to win and it’s win or go home. I hope the kids realized what is still at stake. If we had won the district we would still have to win three games this week, the only difference is who you play in the first round.”
Looking at the other first round match-ups, Harlan County downed Barbourville 17-2 in four innings in their only meeting this season. However, the Lady Bears entered the first round last year’s regional tournament as a heavy favorite only to be upset by the Lady Tigers.
North Laurel has dominated the region in recent years and they’ll take on an up and coming Corbin team. The Lady Hounds gave the Lady Jags a run for their money during the regular season, dropping a 2-1 decision.
South Laurel and Clay County have not met this season. The Lady Cardinals boast a win over their rivals from North Laurel on the season, while Clay brings the third best record among regional teams to the tournament.
The Harlan County-Barbourville winner will meet the North Laurel-Corbin winning in the semifinals Tuesday at 6 p.m. while the South Laurel-Clay County winner will play the Bell County-Knox Central winner at 8 p.m. The championship game is scheduled for Thursday at 6:30 p.m.