CABOT — The Bryant Lady Hornets track team put themselves in position to challenge the Conway Lady Wampus Cats for the 7A-Central Conference championship after the first day of competition at the league meet on Tuesday, May 5.Conway finished the day with 34 points to Bryant’s 30 through four events. Cabot was third with 20 points.
The meet concludes on Thursday with the finals in the running events scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m.
“I was pleasantly surprised with our performances today,” stated Lady Hornets coach Danny Westbrook. “We scored more points than I expected for the first day. Conway has a lot of points out there they will gain in the finals, and right now they look really hard to beat. However, If they slip up at all, we play to be right there to take advantage.”
CABOT — The Bryant freshman track team finished fifth among the boys and sixth among the girls at the 2009 Central Arkansas Junior High Conference, South Division, championship meet on Tuesday, April 28.
Individually, Caleb Thomas scored 35 of the boys’ 80 points while also helping on relay teams that scored.North Little Rock won the boys competition with 118 points to 103.5 for Conway Blue.
The Lady Hornets scored 59 points highlighted by second place finishes in three events. Lake Hamilton dominated the meet with 236 points. Sheridan was a distant second with 73.
VAN BUREN — Sparked by a big day from Christen Kirchner, the Bryant Lady Hornets clinched the undisputed 7A-Central Conference championship on Tuesday, April 28, with a doubleheader sweep of the Van Buren Pointerettes, 6-3 and 10-0.
Kirchner, at the end of a marathon at-bat, slugged a three-run homer in the top of the seventh inning of the first game to provide the winning margin. That win secured the No. 1 seed from the conference to the Class 7A State Tournament in Bentonville this weekend. The romp in the second game, which secured sole possession of first place in the league, was highlighted by freshman Peyton Jenkins’ no-hitter, the first of her high school career.
It’s the third conference title in the last four years for Bryant and head coach Lisa Stanfield.
The Lady Hornets finish league play with a 12-2 mark. They take a 20-7 overall record into State where they’re set to open on Saturday, May 2, at noon against the winner of the Friday contest between Van Buren (the fifth seed from the Central) and Springdale Har-Ber (the fourth seed from the West).
Bryant has won nine of its last 10 games.
By Rob Patrick
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Twelve runs, 10 hits and one major bruise.
The Bryant Lady Hornets took one more step toward an outright 7A-Central Conference championship with a 12-0 thumping of the Little Rock Central Lady Tigers at Interstate Park on Friday. They're one win away from wrapping up the title and the No. 1 seed from the league to the State tournament in Bentonville but they'll have to go a long way to get it. They finish the season with a doubleheader at Van Buren on Tuesday, April 28. A sweep will make them undisputed champs, a split would create a tie for the title with North Little Rock but the Lady Hornets would retain the top seed because they beat the Lady Cats in both meetings this season.
Bryant improved to 18-7 overall and 10-2 in the league with the win over the Lady Tigers who were overmatched just as they had been when they lost to the Lady Hornets, 13-0, at Bryant back on March 3.
Jessica Cudd handled the pitching duties for the Lady Hornets. Usually the JV starter, Cudd whipped up a two-hit shutout, striking out 10 without a walk.
CABOT — After battling for 100 minutes (regulation plus two overtimes) to a scoreless tie, the Bryant Hornets and the Cabot Panthers went to an old-fashioned shootout to decide their final regular-season contest. Cabot hit four goals to Bryant's three on penalty kicks and thus survived with a 1-0 win in a game that was a bittersweet example of the Hornets' season in 2009.
In girls action, the Lady Hornets tuned up for State with a 1-0 win over Cabot's Lady Panthers improving to 12-8 overall and 6-8 in the league. They'll be the No. 5 seed from the 7A-Central Conference, opening State on Friday, May 1, at 1 p.m. against the fourth seed from the 7A-West back at Cabot.
"I was able to rest most of my starters for more than half the game," noted Lady Hornets coach Doug Maxwell.
The lone goal was a header by Haley Montgomery off a corner from Maggie Hart.
The Hornets' contest proved to be a gut-check with one defender out of action to start the game and a starting wing lost in the first few minutes due to injury.
By Rob Patrick
NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Champions.
It's really probably more than anyone should've expected, considering the Bryant Hornets only had two starters returning from a team that won 16 games the previous season, finished tied for third in their league and lost in the opening round of the Class 7A State Tournament.
But sometimes, as the old saying goes, you catch lightning in a bottle.
The Hornets came into Thursday's game at DeJanis Memorial Field at DeSalvo Stadium in Burns Park, needing a win to clinch at least a tie for the league title. They faced the North Little Rock Charging Wildcats, one of the two teams with which they were in a virtual tie for first. The Wildcats, too, were authors of the Hornets' worst loss of the season, 11-4, at Bryant on March 31.
So, when senior Tyler Sawyer found his groove on the mound and the Hornets took advantage of three North Little Rock errors with six hits in a six-run fifth, they were on their way to doing just what they needed to do, winning 11-5.
And, lo and behold, they got some help. The last-place Russellville Cyclones (whom the Hornets found out just a week or so ago have been playing very well lately) stunned the Conway Wampus Cats (the other team tied for first), 12-7, leaving the Hornets alone at the top, champions of the 7A-Central Conference.
North Little Rock dropped into a three-way tie for second with Conway and Little Rock Catholic pending games on Friday. Van Buren will complete a game against Catholic then play North Little Rock at DeJanis Field. Conway visits Cabot on Tuesday, April 28.
NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Bryant Lady Hornets head coach Lisa Stanfield tried to treat it like any other game.
It wasn't, of course. The Lady Hornets came into the game at Burns Park tied with the North Little Rock Lady Charging Wildcats for first place in the 7A-Central Conference. The winner was practically assured of the league crown. For Bryant, a win would not only put them a game ahead of North Little Rock, it would give them the tiebreaker, a sweep of the Lady Cats.
"I really didn't want them to go in any different," she said. "This group — I really don't want them to think too much about stuff. They're pretty athletic. So we're really just better off going with what comes naturally."
But the girls knew.
"They were anything but calmed and collected," Stanfield admitted.
And they certainly weren't after it was over. Sparked by a grand slam by freshman Jessie Taylor that turned a 3-2 deficit into a 6-3 lead, the Lady Hornets claimed a 6-4 victory over the defending Class 7A State champion Lady Cats and last year's State tourney MVP Jessica Shelton.
BRYANT, Ark. — Everything was going so well.
The pre-game ceremonies to honor seniors Sarah Hart, Christen Kirchner and Paige Turpin had been a success. And the Lady Hornets had started the game with a four-run burst that included a three-run homer by Kirchner. And the Lady Hornets got to make their archway of bats for her after she circled the bases. In fact, they got to do it twice more in the third when Kirchner and Jenkins blasted back-to-back round-trippers to make it 6-2.
But the Cabot Lady Panthers spoiled the fun, scoring three in the fourth and two in the fifth for a 7-6 victory that knocked the Lady Hornets out of sole possession of first place in the 7A-Central Conference. Bryant dropped to 16-7 overall and 8-2 in league play going into a showdown with defending State champion North Little Rock at Burns Park on Thursday with first place and a possible conference championship on the line.
Bryant beat North Little Rock earlier in the season, 7-3, but the Lady Charging Wildcats were without star pitcher Jessica Shelton that night. The Lady Hornets also have games against Little Rock Central on Friday, April 24 and two against Van Buren on Tuesday, April 28, to play.
By Rob Patrick
BRYANT, Ark. — Junior center fielder Garrett Bock played as long as he could despite a painful hip that doctors had told him wouldn't get any worse if he played, as long as he could stand the pain. A chronic problem over the years, the hip will need surgery whenever it can be scheduled.
Bock played his last game of the season on Saturday, April 18, at Sheridan.
On Monday, the starting designated hitter was a sophomore, Chris Joiner, who had earned the chance with his play during junior varsity games this season. Joiner went 1-for-3 in his varsity debut against Watson Chapel, a non-conference foe. His second start came on Tuesday in a league game against Cabot. Hopes for at least a share of the 7A-Central Conference championship were hanging in the balance for both teams. Bryant came in 8-4 in league play, atop the standings thanks to Cabot's 7-2 win over North Little Rock on Monday. The Panthers were only a game behind Bryant, North Little Rock (7-4) and Conway (7-4) in the loss column and, after knocking off the Charging Wildcats, had designs on pulling even with Bryant with a win.
And, going into the bottom of the sixth inning, the Panthers held a 5-3 lead.
Bryant, of course, has proven this season its never out of a game and this was no exception. In the home sixth, Brennan Bullock, who has shown a knack for starting comebacks, slapped a 3-2 pitch from Cabot starter Andrew Reynolds into right field for a base hit to get things started. An out later, Brady Butler looped a liner to right for a base hit.
Reynolds got the second out, retiring hot-hitting Caleb Garrett on a pop to third. And that brought up Joiner in a key spot. If he could get on, the middle of the Hornets lineup, Hunter Mayall, Kaleb Jobe and Tyler Sawyer — all hitting over .400 this season — would be coming up with ducks on the pond.
Reynolds got a couple of strikes in on Joiner who also took a couple of pitches off the plate. On a 2-2 delivery, Joiner just barely got a piece to stay alive. Ball three followed then he coolly took ball four.
That proved to be the key at-bat in Bryant's come-from-behind 6-5 win which kept them in first place and a win away from at least a share of the league title and a first-round bye in the Class 7A State Tournament (whether seeded first or second). That one win will have to come in the conference finale at North Little Rock, a team Bryant lost to 11-4 earlier in the season. A loss and they could finish as low as third and miss out on the first round bye.
LITTLE ROCK — "I remember why I disliked Monday ballgames so much," declared Bryant Lady Hornets head soccer coach Doug Maxwell. "We came out flat, just really kind of dragging and disorganized. It looked like we hadn't played in a while."
Both the Lady Hornets and the Hornets took it on the chin Monday at Little Rock Central, both by 5-1 counts. Central comes to Bryant tonight for Senior Night before the regular season wraps up on Thursday at Cabot.
"We held out pretty good for the first 30 minutes," Hornets coach Jason Hay mentioned of the boys game.
But the Tigers got two quick goals at that point and added another in the final minute to take a 3-0 lead at the half.
"We got on the board in the middle of the second half on a cross by Forrest Fowler and goal by Petey Alverio," Hay related.
Central added two goals to finish out the win, however.