Lady Hornets capture tourney championship
EDITOR’S NOTE: In this time of COVID-19, with no sports action, BryantDaily.com will be posting past stories of Bryant athletics either posted on BryantDaily.com (from 2009 to the present) or published in the Bryant Times (from 1998 to 2008).
It’s been a busy but productive few days for the Bryant Lady Hornets.
In a span of six days (including a Sunday off), the Lady Hornets won six of seven games including a four-game sweep to the championship of the Rogers Tournament and a key AAAAA-Central Conference battle with the Conway Lady Wampus Cats.
The stretch began with a battle royal with defending State champion (and conference-leading) North Little Rock at Burns Park on Thursday, April 10. The Lady Charging Wildcats escaped with a 1-0 win despite being out-hit 7-3 by the Lady Hornets.
In Rogers, the Lady Hornets eked out a 2-1 win over Fayetteville to get things started, then battled Bentonville 11 innings before recording a victory to advance to the semifinals against the arch-rival Benton Lady Panthers. A 5-4 win over Benton put Bryant into the championship and a re-match with Bentonville. This time the Lady Hornets prevailed with more ease, 6-2.
Upon returning to conference play on Monday, April 14, the Lady Hornets knocked off the Conway Lady Wampus Cats, 3-0, to nab a share of second place in the league.
They added a 12-2 romp over Little Rock McClellan the next day to improve their league mark to 8-2 and overall record to 19-7.
Bryant hasn’t lost back-to-back games since mid-March. The Lady Hornets have won six in a row and 12 of 14 going into their Thursday, April 17, game at Little Rock Central.
NLR 1, Bryant 0
Against North Little Rock, the long run scored in the bottom of the third when the Lady Cats managed all three of their hits against Kara Vaughn.
Rachel Blakley and Amie Hubbard each has two hits for Bryant, which put together its biggest threat in the fourth. Hubbard and Kaci Melhorn each singled then, with one out, Allison Mitchem grounded to second and Melhorn was forced at second. Hubbard, however, was stranded at third.
In the fifth, Amanda Grappe reached on a one-out error but was picked off first. Blakley followed with a single and raced to third when Lindsey Sullivan reached on an error but both were stranded.
North Little Rock turned a doubleplay in the sixth to erase the lone baserunner after that. Jeanne Randall had singled with one out in the inning.
Bryant 2, Fayetteville 1
The Lady Hornets were shutout against Fayetteville until they rallied for two runs in the fifth. A walk, a single and a sacrifice fly had produced the Lady Bulldogs’ go-ahead run in the bottom of the fourth.
Bryant, meanwhile, had stranded seven baserunners over the first four frames. But, in the fifth, Sullivan led off with a single and, after Hubbard sacrificed, Melhorn reached on an unsuccessful fielder’s choice. Randall walked to load the bases for Mitchem who came through with a two-run single, her second hit of the game.
Bryant 5, Bentonville 4
The game was tied 1-1 after seven innings then tie-breaking procedures began and each team scored a run in the eighth, ninth and 10th. Bryant tacked on a fifth run in the top of the 11th and Bentonville was unable to answer.
Sullivan led Bryant with three hits. Blakley and Kalin Dreher had two each.
Bryant 5, Benton 4
The Lady Hornets snapped a 3-3 tie in the top of the sixth only to have Benton tie it in the bottom of the inning. In the seventh, Blakley scored what proved to be the game-winning run on a groundout by Hubbard after Sullivan had sacrificed her to third.
In the bottom of the inning, Benton stranded the tying run at third.
Dreher had two hits for the Lady Hornets.
Bryant scored a run in the first when Blakley walked, was sacrificed to second by Sullivan and advanced the next two bases on wild pitches.
In the third, Blakley walked, Sullivan reached on an error, Hubbard singled, Melhorn walked and Randall singled to make it 3-0.
Benton tied it in the bottom of the third and it stayed that way until the tiebreaking procedures were put into effect in the sixth. Randall scored in the top of the sixth on a single by Mitchem. Benton tied it with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning.
Bryant 6, Bentonville 2
In the championship game, Bryant took an early 3-0 lead but Bentonville whittled two runs off the lead going into the sixth. That’s when the Lady Hornets put the game away with another three-run outburst.
The clinching rally began with a double by Randall. She was sacrificed to third by Mitchem. Dreher singled her home, then swiped second. When Lindsey Stone reached on an error, Dreher scored. Stone eventually came home on a sacrifice fly by Amanda Grappe.
In the second, an error had opened the door, allowing Mitchem to reach base with one out. With two down, Stone’s fly to left was botched. Grappe followed with a single and Blakley capped the inning with a double.
Bentonville managed just two hits in the game, and didn’t have a baserunner after the fifth.
Bryant 3, Conway 0
Kara Vaughn tossed a three-hit shutout against the Lady Wampus Cats. With the help of the Bryant defense, Vaughn retired the first 10 batters she faced then pitched around a walk and two singles in the fourth. Dreher helped snuff out the rally by throwing out the lead baserunner at third on a single to center.
After that, Conway managed just one baserunner — on a one-out single in the seventh — and the Lady Hornets erased her with a doubleplay to end the game.
Offensively, Hubbard had two hits, scored a run and drove in one.
The Lady Hornets were shut out until the fifth when Stone went all the way to third on a wild throw on her ground to third. Blakley’s squeeze bunt brought her home.
In the sixth, Hubbard singled and reached second when Conway misplayed Melhorn’s grounder. Randall was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Hubbard scored when Dreher grounded into an unsuccessful fielder’s choice. Melhorn came home on a sacrifice fly by Stone.
Bryant 12, McClellan 2
Bryant scored in every inning and McClellan managed to eke out a pair of runs in the fifth.
McClellan committed three errors and issued five walks. Hubbard hit a triple and a single, Randall had a double and a single and Mitchem had two base hits.