King, Bryant steal win over Conway
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CONWAY — It’s something that players take for granted sometimes. After a play has finished, you need to actually call timeout before you turn your back on a baserunner. But, on this occasion, neither pitcher Schylar Dake nor catcher Julia Earney of the Conway Lady Wampus Cats did that. Bryant’s Ashley Herndon had just popped up a sacrifice bunt attempt, trying to get teammate Hailey King home from third base with one out in the top of the 10th inning. Dake had snagged the pop but Earney had thrown off her catcher’s mask and come out from behind the plate just in case she needed to make the play.
After the catch, Dake turned to return to the pitcher’s circle and Earney turned to retrieve her face mask. At third, King and Bryant head coach Lisa Spears were watching and when both turned without calling time, Spears sent King on a dash to homeplate.
And she scored, giving the Lady Hornets a 2-1 lead in the crucial AAAAA-Central Conference battle.
Dake got the final out but, in the bottom of the inning, Bryant’s Tyler Cox, who had battled Dake the entire game, struck out the side (giving her 10 strikeouts) and the Lady Hornets triumphed to retain a share of first place in the conference.
Bryant improved to 9-9 overall and 5-1 versus the league including a season sweep of the rival Lady Wampus Cats. The win clinched a State Tournament berth for the Lady Hornets who were set to host Little Rock Parkview in a league doubleheader on Tuesday, April 18, before taking on North Little Rock in a doubleheader on Thursday, April 20, and hosting Mount St. Mary’s on Thursday, April 27. Bryant, North Little Rock and Mount St. Mary’s are tied for the league lead.
In the win over Conway, the Lady Hornets fell behind 1-0 in the first inning as Cox tried to find her stride. Two walks and an infield single — Conway’s only hit of the game — loaded the bases with two out. Another walk forced in a run before the third out was recorded.
After that, Conway never had more than one baserunner on in an inning. Cox and the Bryant defense set down 11 in a row after a two-out walk in the fourth. With the international tiebreaker in effect after that, nine were retired in succession as the runner on base to start the inning was stranded in all three extra innings.
Meanwhile, Dake worked around a one-out triple by King in the second and a bunt single and stolen base by Paige Turpin with one out in the third.
In the fourth, however, Cox cracked a lead-off triple. With one out, courtesy runner Laci Rowland raced home with the tying run beating a throw to the plate on a grounder by King.
After that, Bryant didn’t have a baserunner until the tiebreaker went into effect in the eighth as Dake set down 11 in a row.
In the ninth, Christen Kirchner was at second to start the inning but she was thrown out at third on Kristen Dorsey’s grounder to short. Cox, however, singled to left. The runners advanced to second and third on Sarah Hart’s groundout but Dake got King to pop out to end the threat.
That put King at second to start the 10th. She stole third as Dake struck out Whitney McCoy, then snuck home after Herndon’s pop-up bunt.
Earlier in the week, the Lady Hornets drubbed the hapless Little Rock Hall Lady Warriors, 15-0 in four innings. McCoy pitched a no-hitter, striking out nine and walking one in those four frames.
Bryant reserves started the game and scored eight times in the first inning with the aid of four walks. Bonnie Stroud, Anna Simpson, Jasmine Carter and Brittney Huckaby each had hits.
A single by McCoy and three Hall errors produced three more runs in the second. In the third, two more errors and hits by Mallory Gross and McCoy produced another trio of tallies.
The game ended one the run-rule (15 after three innings) when, in the bottom of the fourth, Stroud reached on an error, stole third and came home on Simpson’s sacrifice fly.