Lady Hornets’ bats come to life late in 8-0 win over Cabot
EDITOR’S NOTE: In this time of COVID-19, with no sports action, BryantDaily.com will be posting past stories of Bryant athletics either posted on BryantDaily.com (from 2009 to the present) or published in the Bryant Times (from 1998 to 2008).
By Rob Patrick
CABOT — The Bryant Lady Hornets love to mash.
But, on Tuesday night, the Cabot Lady Panthers’ freshman pitcher Morgan Newton was frustrating them.
For a while.
The Lady Hornets got their timing down against the Newton and the shadow that was covering the homeplate area finally extended out to the pitching circle by the sixth inning and they scored seven times in the last two frames to break up a 1-0 contest.
Peyton Jenkins pitched the team’s seventh shutout of the season and fourth in six 7A/6A-Central Conference game in the 8-0 victory. The Lady Hornets improved to 16-3 overall and 6-0 in league play going into a first-place showdown at home against North Little Rock on Thursday.
“The pitcher did a good job keeping us off-balance,” acknowledged Bryant coach Debbie Clark. “My girls don’t want to strike out. They want to hit the ball so sometimes we get too anxious. I would like to see them be a little more disciplined and walk more. I’m glad we’re not striking out but quality at-bats are important. Bases loaded and somebody walks, you’ve got a run in. Who knows what can start there?
“We had just talked about making any field you play on your home field,” she continued. “I said, ‘Look at the dirt. Pick it up. Feel it. It’s dirt. It’s grass. We have sun and shade on our field.’ If we want to make excuses, yeah, okay. Maybe there were some problems with that but it’s things we have to overcome.
“We played two yesterday and that’s hard mentally,” noted the coach. “I came from a place where we played varsity doubleheaders so I understand the scope and concept and all that. It’s harder for them. And I understand that. And we played Thursday and Friday and some of them hit this weekend and played Monday. But we have to because of the rainouts.”
Jenkins faced the minimum number of batters over the first four innings, aided by a pair of doubleplays. After retiring six in a row, she walked Newton to start the third but, with one out, she snagged a liner and threw to first for the doubleplay. In the fourth, Cabot’s Kristi Flesher hit a grounder in the hole at short that Cassidy Wilson ranged to her right to field with slide. Flesher beat the throw to first for her team’s first hit of the game.
The Lady Panthers would only get one other.
And, after Flesher’s hit, Brandyn Vines lined to McKenzie Rice at third. Rice fired to first for another doubleplay.
Bryant had taken a 1-0 lead in the second when Kayla Sory’s fly to right was misplayed, Wilson singled and Carly Yazza picked up the RBI with a sacrifice fly.
The Lady Hornets had opportunities to get more, leaving baserunners in scoring position in each of the first four innings.
Anxious? Seven times in the first five innings, Lady Hornets’ batters jumped on the first pitch. Six others put the ball in play on the second pitch they saw.
“They knew they could hit this pitcher,” Clark said. “They know they can hit any pitcher. We don’t panic. We have a great pitcher. We play great defense. And, at some point, the beasts are going to come through with their bats. And if it’s a game where it’s not working, then we’ll try something else. We’ve squeezed and hit and run and some things that, if it works, it works.”
The beasts erupted after Jenkins worked out of jam in the bottom of the fifth. She clipped Brooke Taylor with an 0-2 pitch to start the inning but Jenny Evans grounded into a force. Taylor Anderson got a bunt down that McKenzie Rice charged aggressively. But the ball had some spin on it and she bobbled it briefly, just enough for the speedy Anderson to beat her throw. And, with third uncovered, Evans sprinted into bag to put runners at the corners with one out.
Anderson stole second but Newton followed with a tap back to Jenkins who threw home to Jessie Taylor who applied the tag on Evans for the second out. Hannah Montgomery struck out and the Lady Hornets came to bat in the sixth.
On the first pitch, Wilson laced a drive to the fence in left-center. Hustling all the way, she slid into third with a triple. On the next pitch, Ashley Chaloner lined a single to right to make it 2-0.
Yazza bounced into a force but then Katy Stillman lined a single to center. That turned over the lineup with lead-off hitter Jenna Bruick coming up. Her tap to short was fielded by Kristen Sumler who tried to tag Yazza going to third unsuccessfully. She then rushed her throw towards second and air-mailed it into right. Yazza scored, Stillman reached third and Bruick cruised into second.
Hannah Rice hit roller to third and the only play Taylor had was to try to throw home to nab Stillman. But the Lady Hornets’ freshman beat the throw to make it 4-0.
That brought up Taylor, Bryant’s leading home run hitter. And she nearly added to her total with a drive to the base of the fence in left-center. Bruick scored and Rice took third on the double. After a pitching change for Cabot, Jenkins’ sacrifice fly capped the inning.
Cabot got its second hit to start the sixth, a bad-hop single past McKenzie Rice at third. But Wilson made a nice catch on a pop, racing back from shortstop into shallow left field to retire Sumler then Jenkins struck out Flesher and Taylor to end the inning.
The Lady Hornets added a pair of runs in the top of the seventh. Chaloner doubled, took third on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Yazza. Stillman grounded into a force at second but after Bruick walked and both runners moved up on a wild pitch, Hannah Rice singled to make it 8-0.
Sory relieved for Bryant in the bottom of the inning and retired the side on nine pitches to close out the win.