After a scoreless first inning, Katie Johnson, Kaitlyn Stittums, Bethany Bellofatto, Bridget Robinson and Chyanna Harris each scored in the second inning as the Lady Bears took control.
Harlan County put the game out of reach with eight runs in the third inning. Seventh-grader Jessie Johnson scored twice in the third as the Lady Bears stretched their lead to 13-0.
Harlan County won the game on the 15-run mercy rule as Savannah Sergent and Bellofatto each scored in the fourth inning.
Robinson, Harris, Katie Johnson, Jessie Johnson, Megan Ramsey and Amber Creech each had a single to pace Harlan County offensively. The Lady Bears were patient at the plate, collecting 13 walks in the contest.
“We told them they would have to be patient against this slow pitching and take whatever they gave us. They did a good job of taking pitches,” said Harlan County coach Howard White. “We were patient enough to get enough runs to beat them.”
Katie Johnson’s impressive pitching performances from the 52nd District Tournament carried over to Monday’s regional opener. The junior struck out six batters on her way to a complete-game one-hitter.
“You can’t ask for no more from her. She is the leader of this outfit. When she is on we’ve got a chance,” White said.
Harlan County (18-13) will meet regional power North Laurel in the semifinals today, while Barbourville closes the season at 1-16.
“This is what you play for. You want to play teams like North Laurel to see how far you have come and see if you can compete with those kind of teams,” White said. “It will be a good experience for us. We are going to come down with nothing to lose and everything to gain.”
Barbourville 000 0 - 0 1 7
Harlan County 058 2 - 15 6 3