By Rob Patrick
The fences at Field 3 at Interstate Park are considerably more distant from home plate than in[more] most high school softball fields but both Kaley Coppock and Jessie Taylor nearly reached them in the Bryant Lady Hornets’ 7A/6A-Central Conference opener Thursday.
Coppock got her home run anyway, circling the bases before the Little Rock Central Lady Tigers’ outfielders could get to the ball and get it back in. Taylor nearly did as well but a nice relay just nipped her at the plate.
Those were the big blows in a 14-hit barrage by the Lady Hornets, which resulted in a 14-0 win over the Lady Tigers.
Now 6-0 overall, the Lady Hornets begin play in the annual Tournament of Champions on Friday night at 7:30 p.m., at Burns Park in North Little Rock. They’ll take on the Class 5A State runner-up, Hope. The tournament will also include Class 6A champion Searcy, Class 3A champion Atkins, Class 2A champion Foreman, Class 1A champion Nemo Vista, Beebe and North Little Rock.
Bryant pitcher Peyton Jenkins allowed just one hit in the game, a lead-off double in the second. But the base-runner was retired when she tried to stretch it to a triple. Bryant left fielder Ashley Chaloner fired to Breanna Sanders out from short as the cut-off. Her relay to McKenzie Rice at third was there in plenty of time for the tag.
The only other baserunner came on a walk to lead off the bottom of the first inning. Jenkins wound up striking out nine in five innings against the overmatched Lady Tigers.
Coppock got the scoring started in the first. Jenna Bruick, who was 4 for 4 in the game, had beaten out a bunt for a single then Taylor had walked. With two down, Coppock drilled a gapper in left-center to a three-run inside-the-park homer.
It was the first of five extra base hits in the game for Bryant.
Following Coppock’s round trip, Carly Yazza walked. Sanders hit a grounder to third that drew a wild throw. Yazza came all the way around to score and it was 4-0.
In the second, Rice singled to get things going. She stole second, advanced to third on a groundout by Jenkins then scored on a passed ball. Bruick singled to bring up Taylor, who ripped a drive that one-hopped the fence at the 265 sign. Bruick scored from first and Taylor was credited with a triple.
The inning continued with a walk to Sory then Coppock and Yazza cracked consecutive doubles down the left-field line to make it 8-0.
Bryant added a run in the third. Katy Stillman led off with a single but was forced at second on a grounder to short by Jenkins. The relay to first, however, was errant and Jenkins went to second. Brianna Davis came in to run for the pitcher and she was knocked in by Bruick, who pulled her third hit into right.
A five-run fourth put the finishing touches on the rout. Sory singled and went to second on a wild pitch to open the frame. Yazza’s grounder to third was booted then Sanders singled to left to plate Sory. With runners at first and third, Stillman hit a grounder to short but the subsequent throw got past the second baseman. Yazza scored and, thanks to the error, so did Sanders.
Jenkins blooped a single to right and, after Davis had stolen second, Bruick singled to drive in the last two runs.
Bryant’s fifth extra-base hit was a triple by Brittney Ball with two out in the fifth.