Bryant softball season starts with win over rival
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Winning your season-opening game is great enough but when it comes at the expense of your arch-rival, well, that’s all the better.
The Bryant Lady Hornets, sparked by freshmen Brandi Barnes and Lana Naumann who had two hits each, did just that with a 7-2 victory over the rival Benton Lady Panthers on Monday, Feb. 18, at Lady Hornets Field.
“I was proud of the way we hit the ball,” stated Lady Hornets head coach Lisa Dreher. “We had several young players come out and make an impact offensively, so that is definitely a good sign. I think that will be our strength this year.”
One of the team’s few returning starters, Christen Kirchner allowed just three hits over the first five innings as she shut out the Lady Panthers as her teammates built a 5-0 lead. Benton managed two runs in the sixth but the Lady Hornets got those back in the bottom of the inning and Kirchner worked around a two-out single in the seventh to close out the win.
“Benton has tons of speed, so I knew we were going to have to keep them off the basepaths to have a chance,” Dreher noted. “Christen did a great job at hitting her spots and executing the pitches. Sarah Hart did great job catching as well. I’m proud of the way she has made the adjustment to catcher.
“There wasn’t one player out there in the position they normally played last year,” she added. “That says something about their versatility and overall athleticism. It makes my job a little easier at least.”
The Lady Hornets were scheduled to play in a tournament in Marshall, Texas over the weekend.
“We still have some things to clean up before we head to Texas, but I am encouraged by the win,” Dreher said. “That’s a big game for us every year and I hope it will motivate the girls to keep working hard and to correct the things we need to correct. Although it has gotten better, communication is still our downfall. We will have to get better at that in order to really excel.”
The Lady Hornets jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first after Kirchner had worked around a lead-off single by Benton’s Katie Mills. With one down, Kirchner reached on an error. She advanced on a grounder to second by Hart and scored on Barnes’ first hit.
While Kirchner was in the process of retiring 10 batters in succession, the Lady Hornets added two runs in the second and another in the third. Bonnie Stroud walked, Kim Wilson reached on an error and they both wound up scoring in the second. In the third, Barnes cracked a two-out single and pinch-runner Kristin Morehart scored on a double by Naumann.
Kirchner pitched around a pair of errors in the top of the fifth and her teammates got her another run in the home half. Hart was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame. Courtesy runner Brittany Welton advanced on Barnes’ grounder to third then scored on Naumann’s single.
Benton’s runs came on two hits and an error in the top of the sixth. In the bottom of the inning, Wilson and Morgan Seelinger drew walks then Kristen Dorsey bounced into a force but Kirchner singled to load the bases before Seelinger and Dorsey eventually scored to set the final score.