Hulett, Lady Hornets shut down defending champs

Gianni Hulett fired a two-hit shutout and the Bryant Lady Hornets salved the wounds from their first 6A-Central Conference setback last Tuesday against Cabot, with a 2-0 win over the defending State champion Bentonville Lady Tigers on Friday.

Bryant improved to 14-5 overall this season with a return to league play set for Tuesday, April 9, against Conway. The Lady Hornets, ranked No. 4 in Class 6A, are 4-1 in conference.

Meagan Chism and Caitlin LaCerra each had two hits for Bryant as the Lady Hornets scratched out single runs in the third and the sixth against the Bentonville duo of Cailey Cochran and McKenzie Vaughan.

Hulett and errorless defense by the Lady Hornets made that stand up. The only two hits for the Lady Tigers were doubles by Morgan Nelson and Megan Crownover. Hulett fanned five and walked no one. She retired the last 10 batters she faced to close out the victory.

The Lady Hornets threatened to score in the bottom of the first when Maddie Thompson singled and Meagan Chism drew a two-out walk but Cochran pitched out of the jam.

Crownover doubled to left with one out in the top of the second but Hulett got R Hayes to fly to Aly Bowers in right then struck out Cochran to keep the runner at second.

Bryant broke the ice on the pitchers’ duel in the bottom of the third. With one out, Thompson drew a walk. Vaughan came in to pitch and Thompson moved to second when Alissa Suarez tapped back to the circle.

That set the stage for Hulett’s RBI single. Chism followed with a double but both were stranded.

Hulett fanned the first two batters in the top of the fourth then surrendered the double to Nelson. Crownover followed with a foul pop that was caught by catcher Regan Dillon, starting the final string of retirements by Hulett.

Dillon walked and LaCerra beat out a bunt single in the bottom of the fourth, but Bella Herring lined into a doubleplay and Joely Calhoun was thrown out trying to beat out a bunt to send the game to the fifth inning.

Bryant’s second run came after Chism belted her second double to lead off the sixth. She moved to third on Bowers’ grounder to the right side then scored on Dillon’s sacrifice fly to right.

Hulett then needed just five pitches to retire the side in the top of the seventh to close out the win.

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