By Rob Patrick
SHERWOOD — It didn’t take long for the Bryant Lady Hornets to dismiss any and all mystery about[more] the outcome of their 7A/6A-Central Conference game against the Mount St. Mary Academy Belles on Tuesday.
Not that it’s an unusual thing for them to do, of course.
For a team that has won two straight Class 7A State championships and has compiled a 26-0 record as it prepares to make a bid for a third in a row, domination is no surprise.
But every win has its highlights and, on Tuesday, it was Jessie Taylor going 4 for 4 with two home runs and six runs batted in, Peyton Jenkins driving in two, Jenna Bruick rapping out three more hits and Ashley Chaloner capping off the 17-0 romp with an inside the park home run.
Jenkins pitched a two-hit shutout, allowing a single in the first and a double in the fifth. She struck out seven and walked one.
Bryant scored eight runs in the top of the first inning, getting an initial boost with a pair of walks. With Bruick at third and Abby Staton, running for Jenkins, at first, they worked a double steal to get Bruick home. And when the throw got past second base, Staton sprinted all the way around to score as well.
Taylor singled and, with one out, courtesy runner Mercedes Dillard was sacrificed to second by Cassidy Wilson. She scored when Kaley Coppock found the gap in right-center for an RBI double. Carly Yazza singled to make it4-0 and, after Katy Stillman walked and McKenzie Rice singled to load the bases, Bruick drove in a run with her first hit and Jenkins plated two with a double. Bruick scored the eighth run when Taylor ripped a liner off the Mount St. Mary pitcher’s leg for a single.
A single and an error provided the Belles a couple of base-runners in the bottom of the inning but then Jenkins retired nine in a row before issuing a one-out walk in the fourth. She finished striking out the side then pitched around a lead-off double in the fifth before closing out the win.
Taylor blasted her first home run in the third. It was a three-run shot over the fence in left-center. Bruick had beaten out an infield single and Jenkins had reached on an error to set the table for the Lady Hornets’ slugger.
In the fourth, Rice, Bruick and Jenkins each singled to produce two runs then Taylor unloaded for her second jack. Unofficially, it was the 39th of her career, adding to her own State record, based on admittedly incomplete Arkansas Activities Association records.
The onslaught continued as Kayla Sory doubled and Chaloner, on as a pinch-hitter, slapped a liner down the right-field line. With the outfield playing her to pull to left and enough English on the drive to send it into the right-field corner, Chaloner was able to circle the bases to make it 17-0.
Several Bryant reserves got in an at-bat the rest of the way. Jamie Jamison walked in the fifth for the only base-runner.
The Lady Hornets host Van Buren this Thursday then travel to Russellville on Friday.