Campbell looks to rebuild Bell program

Published 4:34 pm Friday, March 30, 2018

When Jimmy Campbell left Bell County High School in 2012, the Lady Cat program looked to be on the rise. The team had been to three straight district title games and advanced to the semifinal round of the regional tournament that season.

After pursuing other endeavors, Campbell has returned to the Bell softball program and is undertaking a different path — rebuilding the team into a successful program. During the years he was away from the team, the Lady Cats had a combined record of 16-76 and haven’t found any success in the postseason.

“Some people ask me why you want to (take over the program). It was a challenge,” said Campbell about coming back to coach the team. “I saw talent when I came and looked. I see the facilities (and) what they wanted here. Being here before, it was just an opportunity to come back and try to build it back. Maybe it will happen.”

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Campbell understands how successful the program can be. During his four-year stint from 2009 to 2012, Bell County had three winning seasons. From 2010 to 2012, the team had a combined record of 67-31. In 2012, the team advanced to the semifinal round of the 13th Region Tournament.

While this season is still early, it looks as though Bell County has improved while boasting a young roster that includes several underclassmen in the starting lineup. Six games into the season, the Lady Cats have already tied their overall win total from a year ago.

The team opened the year with a 20-10 victory over Thomas Walker. Bell County grabbed its second win of the season when they picked up their most impressive win of the year in a 10-8 victory over Barbourville — who they lost to twice last season by a combined score of 32-6.

During the game against the Lady Tigers, fans got to see the potential future of the team with Kayleigh Saylor (eighth-grader), Raegan Robbins (freshman) and Amber Lawson (sophomore) making up the first three batters in the lineup.

Robbins and Lawson each crossed home plate with Lawson finishing with two doubles and two runs. Sarah Brooks (a junior) also scored two runs while finishing with a hit during that game.

Bell County picked up their third win on Thursday in a 19-2 rout of Red Bird. Their only three losses have come against quality opponents in Whitley County, Williamsburg and Harlan County.

Campbell doesn’t have to worry about much turnover in his squad over the next year. As a team, the Lady Cats don’t have a senior. The current starting lineup includes two eight-graders, one freshman, two sophomores and four juniors.

Bell County (3-3) will return to action at 5:30 p.m. on Monday when they battle district foe Harlan (3-1).

Reach Anthony Cloud at 606-302-9090 or on Twitter @AnthonyCloudMDN