Photos by Rick Nation
Though they never trailed, the Bryant Lady Hornets’ lead over the rival Benton Lady Panthers was never comfortable; not even, as it turned out, when they held a 7-1 advantage going into the final inning. Though Benton rallied, the Lady Hornets held on for a 7-5 win on Monday night.
The Lady Panthers had the potential tying runs in scoring position when the final out came on a pop up to Mallory Theel at first base.
Bryant out-hit Benton 12-7 with Sarah Evans connecting for three hits. Ryan Regan and Shayla McKissock had two hits each and Raven Loveless drove in a pair of runs. Eight on the nine Bryant starters had hits.
The win was a welcome outcome for the Lady Hornets especially after two close losses in 7A/6A-Central Conference play at Greenwood on Friday night. Now 13-10 overall, they hope to ride their success on Monday into their game this Friday against Mount St. Mary Academy, a 7A conference foe.
Jordan Herbner led off the game with a single, was sacrificed to second by Madi Lancaster but was thrown out trying to get to third on a tap back to the pitcher off the beat of Breana Langford.
Bryant took a 2-0 lead in the home half with an uprising that began with a one-out walk to McKissock. Meagan Chism drilled a double to center then Julie Ward beat out an infield single to drive in a run. With two down, Evans came through with a single to left to get Chism home.
Loveless worked around a lead-off single by Rylea Brimhall in the second as Grace Bryant grounded into a doubleplay. In the third, Madi Mehlin led off with a double but was thrown out at third trying to advance on a sacrifice bunt attempt by Taylor Oglesby.
Bryant threatened with singles by Macey Jaramillo and Ryan in the second then an error in the third that allowed Ward to reach safely. In the fourth, Ryan reached second on an two-out throwing error and advanced to third on a single by McKissock before Benton got out of the jam, keeping it 2-0.
The Lady Panthers broke through in the fifth. With two down, Mehlin doubled and Oglesby reached on an error. Another miscue on a grounder off Herbner’s bat made it 2-1. Oglesby, however, was thrown out trying to reach third to end the uprising.
In the bottom of the inning, Bryant added to its lead. Ward walked and courtesy runner Carlie Bradley raced all the way home on Loveless’ double. Loveless took third on the late throw to the plate then scored on a passed ball to make it 4-1.
Evans followed with a single but was thrown out trying to score on a double by Maddie Stephens.
Loveless pitched around a two-out double by Bryant in the top of the sixth and the Lady Hornets put together what appeared to be a game-breaking three-run home sixth.
Ryan and McKissock sparked the outburst with a singles. With one out, Ward trying to sacrifice beat out her bunt for a hit to load the bases. Loveless hit a grounder to short to drive in Ryan and when the throw to first was wild, McKissock scored as well to make it 6-1.
Ward scored the final tally on a single to left by Evans.
That set up Benton’s comeback effort in the top of the seventh. An error allowing Grace Bryant to reach opened the door. A single and another error loaded the bases for Oglesby, who singled in two runs.
Herbner kept the inning going by reaching base on catcher’s interference. After Loveless got the first out on strikes, another error on a ball hit by Langford brought in two more runs.
With two down, Herbner scored on a wild pitch and runners advanced to second and third. That’s when Brimhall popped to Theel to end the game.