Photos by Kevin Nagle
The Bryant Lady Hornets softball team closed out the 2016 regular season on Friday night with a 6-3 loss to the rival Benton Lady Panthers. Benton avenged a 7-5 loss in a game with the Lady Hornets earlier this season. The game served as a tune-up for the State Tournaments. It also served as a chance for the Lady Hornets to celebrate seniors Kerrigan Allen, Miranda Mayfield, Shayla McKissock, Anna Turpin and Julie Ward.
Bryant will play again on Thursday at 5:30 p.m., as host of the Class 7A State Tournament and the No. 2 seed from the Central Conference. The Lady Hornets will take on Springdale Har-Ber, the sixth-seeded team from the 7A-West.
The Lady Panthers, the top seed from the 6A-South Conference for the 6A State tourney at Sheridan, will have a first-round bye and will open play on Friday at 5:30 p.m., against a team to be determined.
Friday’s game between the Saline County rivals was added to the schedule earlier in the week.
Against Benton, the Lady Hornets rallied for three runs in the bottom of the fourth to overcome a 2-0 deficit and that held until Benton pushed home three in the top of the sixth to regain the advantage. An insurance run scored in the top of the seventh for the Lady Panthers.
After taking their 3-2 lead, the Lady Hornets were unable to get anyone on base as the Lady Panthers’ retired the last nine in a row.
Benton took a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Jordan Herbier singled then Edmonson doubled her home. Taking third on the throw from the outfield, Emme Edmonson scored when Kinsey Bryant grounded out.
The Lady Hornets were unable to answer in the home half despite walks to McKissock and Ward.
After Benton was retired in order in the top of the second, Maddie Stephens and Mallory Theel each walked. But Stephens was caught trying to steal third and Brooklyn Trammell’s grounder to third ended the inning
Edmonton and Bryant each had singles for Benton in the top of the third but Bryant pitcher Raven Loveless struck out Taylor Oglesby to force the Lady Panthers to strand them.
It looked like the Lady Hornets had a sure chance to score in the bottom of the third when Regan Ryan singled, McKissock beat out a bunt hit and Meagan Chism walked to load the bases but the Lady Panthers turned a triple play to escape with their 2-0 lead intact.
Loveless pitched around a one-out single to Breana Langford in the Benton fourth then the Lady Hornets picked up where they left off in the third and, this time, put up their three runs. A one-out walk to Stephens got things started. Macey Jaramillo singled and, after a pitching change for Benton, Theel walked to load the bases again. This time, Trammell singled to make it 2-1.
Though Jaramillo was forced at the plate on Ryan’s tap back to the pitcher, when McKissock’s grounder was misplayed both Theel and Trammell scored to give Bryant its lead.
Edmonton doubled with one out in the fifth but the Lady Panthers were prevented from cashing in.
Benton’s game-breaking sixth included an RBI single by Lancaster, which tied the game, then a two-out two-run double by Herbner to put the Lady Panthers ahead.
Made Mehlin doubled in a run in the top of the seventh to set the final score.