March 9 in Bryant athletic history: 2010

Clutch pitching, defense help Lady Hornets edge Lady Wolves

EDITOR’S NOTE: Because the look back at each day in Bryant athletic history has been so favorably received during the time when there was no sports during the COVID-19 shutdown, will continue posting past stories of Bryant athletics either posted on (from 2009 to the present) or published in the Bryant Times (from 1998 to 2008).

By Rob Patrick

PEARCY — When the Bryant Lady Hornets needed to make a play, they made; when pitcher Peyton Jenkins needed to make a pitch, she made it; and when the team needed a couple of runs, they took advantage of the other team’s mistakes and got them.

The result was a 2-0 win over the Lake Hamilton Lady Wolves in a game that was a far cry from the 10-1 bashing the Lady Hornets handed the Lady Wolves at Bryant on March 2.

But the win improved the Lady Hornets to 3-0 going into the annual Bootsie Gordon Memorial Tournament at Benton this weekend.[more]

Lake Hamilton pitcher Maddie Blancaflor had surrendered most of those runs the Lady Hornets piled up in the previous meeting between the two teams. But this time, she proved difficult for the Lady Hornets to barrel up. The Lady Hornets managed just two hits and one of those was of the scratch infield variety off the pitcher’s glove.

That opened up the top of the sixth of the scoreless game. Hannah Rice reached on the play. The ball deflected off Blancaflor’s glove to third baseman Kenzie Drake, who scooped the ball up and hurried a throw to first that got past the first baseman. Rice wound up at second on the play.

Cassidy Wilson followed with a well-placed sacrifice bunt that drew another wild throw to first. This time, the ball sailed down the right field line. Rice scored and Wilson sprinted to third.

An out later, Kayla Sory hit a hot grounder to shortstop Hayley Hill. With Wilson breaking for the plate, Hill threw home but Wilson slid in under the throw, which got away from the Lady Wolves’ catcher allowing Sory to take second.

The 2-0 lead had to do because Blancaflor settled in after that and retired the next two batters stranding Sory at second.

Before the sixth, Bryant had only put two runners on base. In the second, Shanika Johnson drew a walk and, in the fourth, Jenna Bruick slapped a single over the second baseman’s head. Bruick stole second and, an out later, Jessie Taylor was robbed of an extra-base hit on a nice running catch in right-center. Jenkins followed with a one-hop shot to Hill at short. She knocked it down, tracked it down and fired to first just in time to nip Jenkins, retiring the side.

Lake Hamilton threatened from the very start. In the opening inning, Hill reached on a third-strike passed ball and, an out later, took second on a wind-blown single behind third.

With Drake squaring to bunt, the Lady Wolves tried to catch the Lady Hornets off guard. Drake pulled the bat back as Hill tried to steal third but Taylor fired to Wilson, over from shortstop, in time for the out. Drake then grounded out to Wilson to end the inning.

In the second, a walk and a sacrifice had a runner at second but, again, Taylor threw her out trying to steal third before Jenkins got out of the inning with a strikeout.

Jenkins retired the first two in the third but still didn’t have an easy inning. Hill blooped a single behind first that Sory appeared to lose in the sun. Kelley Coakley followed with a walk to put runners at first and second but Jenkins got Hannah Hull to bounce out to Sory at first to escape again.

“That’s what you want early,” stated Lady Hornets coach Debbie Stepp. “You want her to pitch out of trouble. The umpire’s strike zone was not her favorite strike zone but you’ve got to find the umpire’s strike zone and go with his strike zone. We’re not going to argue balls and strikes because he’s not going to change it. So, let’s work on something else. Let’s work on hitting the ball and making a play because we can control those things.”

The Lady Wolves made their most serious threat in the fourth when Drake singled to center to start the inning. Kayla Bullard grounded to Jenkins who got the force at second. Blancaflor followed with a shot off the glove of the lunging Johnson at third for an infield hit, putting runners at first and second. Melissa Chunn’s grounder to short resulted in a force at third as Wilson and Johnson combined on a nifty play. But Ashleigh Brown then reached on a Bryant error loading the bases with two down.

Jenkins induced a grounder to Johnson at third off the bat of Kelsey Williams. And when Johnson got the force at third, Jenkins and the Lady Hornets were out of the inning.

Jenkins appeared to find her strike in the fifth, retiring the top of the Lady Wolves’ order 1-2-3.

But, after the Lady Hornets got on the board in the top of the sixth, she was greeted by a double to gap in left-center by Drake. Bullard, however, was called out on strikes and, after Drake took third on Blancaflor’s grounder to second for the second out, Chunn fanned to leave Drake at third.

In the second, the first two Lady Wolves were retired but then Hill lined a single off Jenkins glove, thrown up in self-preservation. Coakley singled to left and Lake Hamilton had the potential tying runs on board. But Jenkins got Hull to bounce to Bruick at second to end it.

“We’re still not where we need to be,” Stepp asserted. “Of course, it’s the beginning of the season and I don’t want to peak now. We’ve got three basketball players that we’re trying to work into the lineup. We’re trying to find some consistency. We’ve been playing JV jamboree, JV doubleheader so it’s been kind of hard. We’ll be able to practice tomorrow, Thursday and Friday, and get ready for the Benton tournament and that’s going to help. Everybody’s going to feel a little bit more comfortable.”

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