NORTH LITTLE ROCK — The Bryant Lady Hornets pounded out 15 hits including three each by senior Regan Ryan and freshman Alissa Suarez as they bounced back from their first 7A-Central Conference loss in two years with an 8-3 win over the arch-rival North Little Rock Lady Charging Wildcats at Burns Park on Thursday.
After giving up a run in the first, senior Raven Loveless shut out the Lady Cats over the next four innings as the Lady Hornets built a 6-1 lead. And, after North Little Rock trimmed two runs off that advantage in the bottom of the sixth, Bryant got those back in the top of the seventh. Loveless scattered nine hits, walked no one and struck out four and the Lady Hornets committed just one error.
Maddie Thompson, Sarah Evans, Meagan Chism and Brooklyn Trammell each had two hits for Bryant, now 26-4 overall this season, 12-1 in league play. They clinched at least a tie for the 7A-Central championship and remained a game ahead of Cabot in the standings with one game left in the regular season, at home against Conway this Friday. That’ll be Senior Night.
In the bottom of the first, Marissa Mitchell singled and Madi Bobbitt was hit by a pitch to lead off for North Little Rock. Katelyn McMahan sacrificed them to second and third then Cassidy Tucker picked up the RBI with a grounder to Evans at short who got the out at first.
Bryant took a 2-1 lead in the top of the second. Trammell singled and pinch-runner Callie Bradley advanced to second on Maddie Stephens’ grounder to third. Bradley swiped third and scored the tying run on Bella Herring’s sacrifice fly.
Suarez revved up the offense again with a double to center. Ryan singled her to third and, after Thompson walked to load the bases, Evans singled her in.
Loveless picked up two of her strikeouts in a 1-2-3 bottom of the second. She set down the side in the bottom of the third to make it eight straight retired.
And the Lady Hornets added to the lead in the top of the fourth, sparked by an infield hit by Suarez. Ryan sacrificed her to second then Thompson beat out a bunt for a hit. Suarez scored from third when Evans hit into a force at second and it was 3-1.
McMahan led off the home fourth with a double but Loveless got Tucker to line out to Ryan in center and, when Lily Douglass tapped back to the circle, she threw to Thompson at third to nab McMahan trying to advance. Loveless struck out Ali Hopkins to retire the side.
With one out in the top of the fifth, Stephens belted a triple to left and, with two down, Suarez beat out another infield hit to get the run home.
North Little Rock managed a one-out single by Amie Davis but nothing more in the bottom of the inning.
Evans led off the Bryant sixth with a bunt hit then Chism did the same. Loveless got a sacrifice bunt down to move them to second and third for Trammell, who doubled both home, and it was 6-1.
In North Little Rock’s sixth, Bobbitt singled but was forced out at second on a grounder by McMahan. An errant relay to first in an attempt at a doubleplay allowed her to take second then Tucker singled to drive in the run.
Douglass singled and, with two away, Marykate Partridge singled up the middle to make it 6-3.
Loveless got Davis to groundout to third to end the uprising.
But, in the seventh, the first two Lady Cats got aboard with singles. But Bobbitt grounded to Suarez at the second-base bag, she stepped on the base and fired to first for a doubleplay. McMahan tapped back to Loveless for the final out.
That would’ve been much more intense had the Lady Hornets not added a pair of runs in the top of the seventh. Suarez reached on an error and Ryan singled her to third. Thompson picked up an RBI on a sacrifice fly into foul territory that was caught by Davis down the line behind first base.
Ryan tagged as well and got to third. She scored on Chism’s two-out knock to make it 8-3.