By Rob Patrick
TEXARKANA — With her team trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the first, with the bases loaded[more] and two out, Bryant Lady Hornets junior Kayla Jolley entered the pitching circle in relief and not only got out of that jam with no further damage but proceeded to retire 13 consecutive batters.
That gave the Lady Hornets a chance to rally with four runs in the fourth and another in the fifth on the way to a well-earned 8-4 win over the Texarkana Lady Razorbacks Tuesday night.
Jolley pitched through a bases-loaded jam in the sixth and worked around a two-out hit in the seventh to close out the victory. Over 6 1/3 innings, she allowed just two hits.
“I’m so proud of her,” stated Lady Hornets head coach Debbie Clark. “She’s just shown me so many good things this year. Tonight was another one of those good things. She came in, we were behind and it didn’t bother her, didn’t faze her. She knew what she needed to do and she did it. That’s what I’ve got to have, that kind of leadership in the circle.”
At the plate, Jolley contributed a pair of hits as did Carly Yazza, Abby Staton and Katy Stillman. Julie Ward added a bunt single as well to give Bryant nine hits for the game.
The win improved the Lady Hornets to 7-6 overall this season and 3-2 in South Conference play. They came in tied with Texarkana in the standings. Thursday, they host defending Class 6A State champion Lake Hamilton.
Bryant used the short game effectively to fuel the key four-run fourth. Brianna Davis drew a lead-off walk then Ward beat out her bunt, deadened so well in front of the plate that the Texarkana catcher had no play. Staton followed with another bunt hit to load the bases for the top of the batting order.
Breanna Sanders slapped a hard grounder to the right side that was booted at second allowing Davis to score the tying run.
Stillman followed with a tap back to the Texarkana pitcher, who threw home to force out Ward. Sydney Gogus followed with a roller to third. The Lady Backs’ fielder grabbed it and threw home but Staton beat the throw, scoring on the fielder’s choice.
Sanders scampered home on a wild pitch and when Kaley Coppock put the ball in play with a grounder to second, she picked up an RBI as Stillman scored to make it 7-4.
Clark was pleased with the results of her team’s execution.
“We actually put the ball in play and they made a play but then they couldn’t finish it,” Clark said. “That’s happened to us so many times.
“The girls, you could just tell, it was so nice for some things to go our way,” she emphasized. “I kept telling them, ‘It’s going to happen. Just keep trusting your teammates and keep trusting yourselves.’
“I told them before the game, ‘God provides every bird with a worm but he doesn’t throw it in the nest. The bird has to go find it. We have talent but we’ve got to go find it,’” she related. “And that’s what we’re going to work on. We started finding it tonight.”
Bryant added an insurance run in the sixth when Stillman one-hopped the left-field fence for a lead-off double, took third on a groundout by Coppock and scored when Jolley’s grounder to second was misplayed.
Jolley had handcuffed the Lady Razorbacks through the bottom of the fifth and her teammates made all the plays. In the sixth, Texarkana’s Natalie Hamilton broke the string when she was struck by a pitch but she was forced at second when Alexis Paxton bounced to Stillman at third. Morgan White blooped a single behind third but Jolley got Breanna Huntley to roll one to Sanders at short. She threw to Stillman for a force at third.
An error, however, loaded the bases and brought up the top of the Texarkana lineup. But Jolley got Megan Wright on a comebacker to escape unscathed.
The game had a wild start. In the top of the first, the Lady Hornets grabbed a 3-0 lead. Stillman singled and when Gogus bounced to first, a throw to second in an attempt to get a force, was high. A double steal put runners at second and third and, with two out, Jolley singled in Stillman and Yazza ripped a double to right-center to drive in two.
In the home half, Wright singled and was sacrificed to second. The middle of the Texarkana order when single, walk and double to make it 3-2. Jordan Williams, the Lady Hornets’ starting pitcher, retired Paxton for the second out and was a strike away from ending the inning with a lead but White singled to left to tie the game.
Again, Williams had two strikes on Huntley but a walk ensued and another single gave Texarkana the lead.
Jolley entered at that point and got Wright to pop out to Sanders at short to end the uprising.
“Tomorrow, we have many good things to go over and I’m so glad,” Clark stated. “I’ve been waiting for this day when I can say this is what we did right, this is what we did right.
“I’m so glad for the girls because they have worked so hard,” she emphasized. “It was truly more than just a win tonight, it was a victory for our team as a team.”