By Rob Patrick
Who will be the No. 1 seed from the Central Conference at the Class 7A State[more] softball tournament? Will it be the defending State champion Lady Hornets of Bryant or the rival Lady Charging Wildcats of North Little Rock? Will Bryant win the conference outright or will the Lady Cats grab a share?
Those questions will be answered when the two tradition-rich powerhouses close out the regular-season conference slate with a showdown at Burns Park this evening at 5 p.m.
Bryant, 22-4 overall, will also be out to avenge its lone conference loss, 2-1, at home on April 14. That’s been the Lady Hornets’ only loss over the last 14 games. They’ve won five in a row since.
No doubt, head coach Debbie Clark, a great proponent of visualization and a creative motivator, will have something thought up to get her team ready to play.
That’s the highlight game of a nearly full slate for Bryant High School teams today. In addition, the soccer teams will be at North Little Rock with the Lady Hornets needing a win to nail down second place and the first-round bye at State that goes with it. As the 2 seed, the Lady Hornets will open State play at North Little Rock on Saturday at 4 p.m., against the winner of Friday’s first-round game between Fayetteville and either Cabot or North Little Rock, possibly Little Rock Hall.
The Hornets soccer team is hoping to put together three straight wins for the first time this season, so they can be on an unprecedented roll going into State. The boys are locked in as the No. 3 seed from the Central. They will open State play at Cabot at 3 p.m. on Friday against Rogers Heritage, the sixth seed from the West. The two teams met before at the Northwest Arkansas Invitational early in the season. In Bryant’s fourth match of the day, Heritage eked out a 2-1 win.
The Bryant baseball team, champions of the Central Conference for the third year in a row, closes out its regular season this evening at 5 p.m., against defending Class 6A State champion Lake Hamilton. It’ll be Senior Night for the Hornets.
As for the post-season, the Hornets will play at Fort Smith’s Evans Boys Club field in its first State game on Saturday at noon. The opponent will be the winner of a Friday game between Springdale Har-Ber and a team yet to be determined from the Central. Today’s doubleheader between Little Rock Central and Van Buren will clear that up. It could still be Central, North Little Rock or Cabot. A sweep by Central over Van Buren would make Central fourth, North Little Rock fifth and Cabot sixth. A split would result in a three-way tie for fourth and it will go to points and depend on the run differentials in the two games. If Van Buren sweeps, North Little Rock would be fourth, Cabot fifth and Central sixth.
In softball, if the Lady Hornets win tonight and gain the top seed, they too will be playing at noon on Saturday in Bentonville. Though the West is still a jumble with several teams with games to still make up, the Lady Hornets as it now stands would play against the winner of a first-round game between Rogers and either Mount St. Mary or Little Rock Hall. Rogers Heritage, Fort Smith Southside and Fort Smith Northside are still in the running to take that spot from Rogers.
If they happen to lose and become the No. 2 seed, the Lady Hornets would open Saturday at 1:45 against the winner of a first-round game between Springdale Har-Ber (probably) and either Mount or Hall.