Early runs hold up as Bryant girls win Tennessee opener

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — At Riverdale High School in Murfreesboro, the Bryant Lady Hornets softball team opened play in the Southern Warrior Classic on Wednesday with a 6-4 victory over the Piedra Vista Lady Panthers of Farmington, N.M.

Gianni Hulett and Regan Dillon each had two hits as the Lady Hornets used six knocks — three for extra bases — to take advantage of five walks, three errors.

Hulett pitched three innings as Bryant built a 5-1 lead. Lexi Helton pitched the rest of the game as the Lady Panthers rallied but the Lady Hornets held on for the victory.

Bryant took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Hulett singled but, on a steal attempt, was ruled out for leaving the bag too soon. But Maddie Thompson walked and, with two down, Meagan Chism belted a double to left that drove in the first run. 

Chism stole third and scored on a throwing error by Piedra Vista catcher Makenzie Bayless.

Becca Goodwin managed a one-out hit for the Lady Panthers in the second. Lanae Billy bunted back to Hulett, who threw to Chism at second for a force. Bayless then struck out.

Walks to Caitlin LaCerra and Hulett with two down in the bottom of the second came to naught then Piedra Vista got on the board in the top of the third. Rainey IronMoccasin led off with a double, went to third on a single by Akaysia Grogan and scored on an error.

With a strikeout and a grounder to second, Hulett got out of the inning.

Bryant increased the lead to 5-1 in the bottom of the inning. Aly Bowers led off with a walk and took second on a wild pitch. With one out, Dillon singled to left and, on the throw to hold Bowers at third, hustled into second.

With Avari Allen in to run for Dillon, Alissa Suarez cleared the bases with a triple to right. She scored on a wild pitch.

Three walks and singles by Bayless and Amber Herrod produced another run for Piedra Vista but, with the bases loaded, Helton, who relieved to start the inning, ended the uprising with a strikeout of Grogan.

Hulett’s one-out double gave the Lady Hornets a chance to get that run back in the bottom of the fourth. Thompson sacrificed to get her to third. She scored from there on an error by the New Mexico second baseman.

Helton pitched around a hit batsman and a pair of walks in the top of the fifth. A doubleplay by the Lady Hornets helped as Chism caught a pop at short and fired to Hulett at first in time to double-up Ashlee Lucero. Billy tapped back to Helton for the third out.

In the top of the sixth, however, a walk to Bayless and a two-out double from Grogan made it 6-3. Lucero singled to make it 6-4 before a grounder to Suarez at second ended the game on a force.

Bryant was set to play two games on Thursday against a team from Knoxville, Tenn., and another from Chattanooga.

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