Chaloner’s birthday blast, Jenkins’ ‘sick’ pitching spark Lady Hornet victory
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
Photos by Kevin Nagle
A day after the Russellville Lady Cyclones swept the North Little Rock Lady Charging Wildcats out of first place in the 7A/6A-Central Conference, they[more] came to Bryant with designs on pulling a similar upset of the team that moved into first in the wake of that feat.
But the Lady Hornets spoiled those ideas in efficient manner behind a one-hit shutout by pitcher Peyton Jenkins and a birthday bash from Ashley Chaloner.
A two-run homer — the first of her high school career — in the bottom of the second by Chaloner started the Lady Hornets’ train a-rollin’. The result was a 10-0 victory in which Chaloner celebrated birthday with a 4-for-4 day. Jenkins and Cassidy Wilson each had two hits as Bryant improved to 17-4 overall this season and 7-1 in conference play, a game ahead of North Little Rock, which bounced back Thursday night with a 6-2 win over Cabot.
The Lady Hornets were scheduled to play Little Rock Central today at 5 p.m., in a make-up game, though the Lady Tigers apparently forfeited its game against Conway on Thursday.
Saturday, Bryant travels to Van Buren for a doubleheader in league play. They visit Conway on Tuesday, May 3, and still have Cabot (May 5) and North Little Rock (May 9) to play in league contests.
Jenkins was perfect through five innings before she hit a batter to start the sixth inning. An out later, the Lady Cylcones got their only hit, a single to left.
“I was pleased,” stated Lady Hornets coach Debbie Clark, emphatically. “We had not played in two weeks and Peyton is battling illness. She was in a zone! The first five innings were flawless for her, no one reached base. She was beginning to wear down by the end of the sixth inning, but her teammates ‘stepped in the gap’ for her, making defensive plays and then scoring enough runs to end the game early.”
The Lady Hornets finished with 12 hits in the game.
“We had several people who were hot, especially Ashley Chaloner on her 17th birthday,” Clark noted. “It’s going to be her birthday every day from now on complete with air brushed cupcakes. I had just heard the coach say to his pitcher, ‘You have numbers 6,7 and 8 up.’ And our number 6 got on base and our number 7 hitter gets a homerun. That is hard for a team to defend. That is our goal, that every player in our lineup is a weapon. Freshman Katy Stillman, our number nine hitter, came through with a big hit with two outs in the bottom of the sixth to score the game-ending run.”
Jenkins actually struck out the first seven batters she faced and, after a pop to third, she fanned another to close out the third inning.
It was Wilson who singled in front of Chaloner’s bomb in the bottom of the second.
In Bryant’s third, Jessie Taylor drew a one-out walk and with Stephanie Cyz in to run, Jenkins cracked a single to right. Brittney Ball came on to run for the ailing pitcher and, with two out, Wilson and Chaloner lined RBI singles. Carly Yazza reached on an error to load the bases and Stillman waited out a walk to force in a run that made it 5-0.
“I asked my players to practice patience at the plate, to work their pitcher and to allow Peyton to rest as much as possible while we were hitting,” Clark mentioned, adding with her favorite description of her hitters, “They came through in a ‘beastly’ fashion. For example, Jessie Taylor had two walks. She is a threat at the plate and loves to hit. She showed great discipline and we had even talked about bunting her if our leadoff got on so she could move her teammate because she knew she would not get a pitch to drive. This is a coach’s dream, players willing to sacrifice for the team.”
Jenkins struck out two more in the fourth and retired the side in order in the fifth.
Bryant added a run in the home fifth. A one-out single by Chaloner, a sacrifice by Yazza and a base hit by Stillman produced the run. Jenna Bruick added a single but Russellville got out of the inning, trailing 6-0.
After the Lady Cyclones got two on with one out in the top of the sixth, Jenkins induced a grounder to McKenzie Rice at third for a force then ended the threat with a grounder to Kayla Sory at first.
And the Lady Hornets made it a run-rule win in the bottom of the inning. Taylor lashed a double and, an out later, Sory reached on a fielder’s choice as Taylor scored. Wilson reached as Sory beat a play at second then Chaloner singled to fill the bags. Yazza singled in Sory and Wilson raced home on a passed ball before Stillman socked a single to end it.