Lady Hornets rebound from loss to earn 2nd seed for State
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).
By ROB PATRICK
Denied a conference championship in heartbreaking fashion, the Bryant Lady Hornets bounced back with two victories to clinch the No. 2 seed from the AAAAA-Central to the State Tournament in Rogers.
A thrilling come-from-behind win over North Little Rock on Thursday, April 28, kept the Lady Hornets in contention for the league title but Mount St. Mary’s of Little Rock clinched the crown with a win over Little Rock Central on Monday, May 2. Mount St. Mary’s had taken over first place by a game over Bryant with a 1-0 win over the Lady Hornets on Tuesday, April 26.
Facing the possibility of dropping to the fourth seed, Bryant finished the regular season with a 2-0 win over McClellan to secure the second seed.
The Lady Hornets will open Class AAAAA State Tournament play at Veterans Park in Rogers on Saturday, May 7, at 1:45 p.m., against Fort Smith Northside, the No. 3 seed from the AAAAA-West. The Lady Hornets take a 19-10 overall record into the tourney. They were 11-3 in conference play.
Bryant 2, McClellan 0
In the regular-season finale, Kara Vaughan and Tyler Cox combined on a no-hitter and came within one batter of a perfect game.
McClellan’s Tiffany Meyers, the second batter of the game, was hit by a pitch and proved to be her team’s lone base-runner. Vaughan, who struck out eight in five innings of work, retired the next 14 in a row. Cox took over in the sixth and struck out the first five she faced before getting the final out of the game on a comebacker.
Bryant actually managed just one hit off McClellan’s Tynetta Sims, a two-out shot off the third baseman’s arm in the fourth inning by Vaughan.
But the Lady Hornets already had all the runs they’d need. Those came in the first when Amie Hubbard opened the inning with a bunt that drew a wild throw. She raced all the way around to third then scored on a bunt by Amanda Grappe, who also reached safely due to a bad throw from Sims. The McClellan pitcher tried to hold Hubbard at third before spinning to throw to first. Grappe wound up at second.
A sacrifice bunt by Kaci Melhorn moved Grappe to third then she scored on an infield roller off Cox’s bat.
Bryant only had three more baserunners in the game. Allison Grappe walked in the second, Melhorn walked in the fourth and Vaughan.
North Little Rock 3
Down to their last out, the Lady Hornets rallied from a 3-2 deficit to win in the bottom of the seventh. With one out in the inning, Kalin Dreher had singled. A groundout by Randi Juliusson allowed her to advance to second. Hubbard followed with a grounder to third that, with a last-second dive at first base, she beat out as the Lady Charging Wildcats’ first baseman failed to hold the throw.
Though shaken up on the play, Hubbard stayed in the game and raced all the way home behind Dreher on Amanda Grappe’s game-winning single.
North Little Rock had taken the lead with a three-run sixth inning, using three hits to take advantage of a walk and an error.
Vaughan had shut out the Lady Cats to one hit through four innings. In the fifth, North Little Rock opened with a single and an error. With runners at second and third, a strikeout was followed by a pop to Melhorn at third, who tagged the runner who was off the bag there to end the threat.
Bryant had taken a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third when, with two out, Hubbard beat out an infield hit, swiped second and scored on Amanda Grappe’s single to left.
After squelching North Little Rock’s threat in the top of the fifth, the Lady Hornets made it 2-0 in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Dreher singled and went to second when the hit was misplayed in left. She took third on a passed ball then scored on Juliusson’s squeeze bunt.
Mount St. Mary’s 1,
Through six innings, the Lady Hornets and Belles were both shut out on three hits. In the seventh, Bryant went down 1-2-3. In the bottom of the inning, a single, a sacrifice and a passed ball had a runner at third with no one out. A grounder into the hole at short was flagged down by Hubbard, the Bryant shortstop, but she had to dive to get it and couldn’t get a throw home in time as the only run of the game scored, ending it.
Bryant’s best threat came in the fourth when Amanda Grappe singled, took second on a wild pitch and third on a one-out single by Cox. After courtesy runner Bonnie Stroud stole second, however, Mount St. Mary’s retired the next two batters to keep the game scoreless.
Bryant’s only other hit in the game was a two-out single by Melhorn in the sixth.
Vaughan had pitched out of jams in the second and third. With one out in the second, a single, a passed ball, an error and a stolen base had Belles at second and third, but Vaughan struck out the next two batters to end the threat.
In the third, a bunt single and a pair of errors had the bases loaded with no one out. A pop out to second and fly to center followed then Juliusson, the Bryant catcher, picked off the runner at first to end the inning.