NORTH LITTLE ROCK — At the end of the 2011 season, the Bryant Lady Hornets and the North Little Rock[more] Lady Charging Wildcats, arch-rivals in the 7A-Central Conference, met for the Class 7A State championship. The Lady Hornets won their second consecutive title.
On Friday, the two teams met for the first time since that day in May. And, while the Lady Hornets are the same team they were, the Lady Cats are not.
Now, there’s no doubt that a program as rich in tradition as North Little Rock will be back. But, for now, they couldn’t match up with the Lady Hornets who forged an 8-1 win to improve to 23-0 on the season and 7-0 in conference play.
Peyton Jenkins, once again, had the opposition overmatched. She allowed just two hits. She walked one and struck out nine. She faced the minimum — 18 batters — through six innings, allowing just one hit which was erased by a doubleplay.
North Little Rock managed a second hit in the bottom of the seventh. The single came after a walk and a sacrifice. With runners at the corners, the Lady Hornets just missed turning a game-ending doubleplay but the run scored when the batter beat the relay to first.
Bryant finished with nine hits to take advantage of six North Little Rock errors. Jessie Taylor, Kayla Sory and McKenzie Rice each had two knocks. Rice had the lone extra base hit of the game with a double.
The Lady Hornets threatened to score in each of the first two frames. In the first, they left the bases loaded after Jenkins and Taylor singled and Sory reached on an error. In the second, Rice singled and was thrown out trying to score on Jenna Bruick’s hit to right.
After turning the doubleplay in the bottom of the second, however, Bryant broke through with three in the third. Taylor singled and Mercedes Dillard came on to run for her. Sory singled to center and, with two down, Kaley Coppock drove a hit to center. And when the throw from the outfield was off-target, both Dillard and Sory scored. Coppock, who wound up at third, came in moments later when Carly Yazza reached on an error.
It stayed 3-0 until the sixth when Katy Stillman was hit by a pitch with one out. Rice doubled and Bruick singled in a run, taking second on the late throw to the plate. Rice scored on Jenkins’ groundout and, after Taylor walked, Sory grounded a single into right to make it 6-0.
Jenkins struck out the side in the bottom of the sixth and the Lady Hornets got two more in the top of the seventh. Coppock reached on an error but was forced at second on a grounder to short by Yazza. Stillman’s grounder to second produced another force out but when Rice’s drive to right was misplayed, Stillman scored. Rice followed moments later when Bruick grounder to first was booted, making it 8-0.
The Lady Hornets are headed to northwest Arkansas on Saturday. They’ll play at Farmington against both the Lady Cardinals and Pottsville. They host Little Rock Central on Thursday, April 19, when they resume conference play. It’ll be the beginning of the second round through the league.