BENTON — Two five-run innings, one a dramatic last-ditch effort and the other a game-opening burst, proved to be enough for the Bryant Lady Hornets’ pitching and defense as they captured the championship of the Drew Melton Tournament at Riverside Park on Saturday.
After winning twice on Friday, the Lady Hornets rallied to knock out the Cabot Lady Panthers 5-1 and advance to the championship game where they scored early and held on for a 5-1 win over the Bauxite Lady Miners.
In the opener, Sarah Evans and Meagan Chism had clutch two-run singles in the top of the sixth inning as the Lady Hornets overcame a 1-0 deficit to beat Cabot. In the nightcap, Brooklyn Trammell drilled a grand slam homer in the first to put the Lady Hornets on the road to victory.
Gianni Hulett went the full five innings in the pitcher’s circle for the Lady Hornets, scattering five hits, walking two and striking out one. Bauxite managed an unearned run in the top of the fifth.
Against Cabot, the Lady Hornets were shut out on three hits by Ashlyn Spears over five innings. Meanwhile, Hulett and Raven Loveless didn’t allow a base-runner over the first three innings. But, in the bottom of the fourth, Leah Gerald walked, took second on a grounder to first and third on an error as Aubrey Lee reached safely. Rylie Hamilton then blooped a single to right that fell in for an RBI.
A forced at third on a grounder hit there by Spears then a groundout to Bella Herring at second ended the inning.
Bryant’s game-winner rally in the top of the sixth began with Maddie Stephens bouncing a single up the middle. Regan Ryan’s tapper was misplayed by Spears then Hulett got a sacrifice bunt down and reached when there was no play at third.
That’s when Evans singled to left to plate two, putting Bryant ahead. A walk to Loveless filled the sacks again for Chism, who lined a shot to right to drive in two more. With one out, Loveless scored on a wild pitch to make it 5-1.
Cabot threatened in the bottom of the inning when Gerald reached on an error but a pop to Herring at second followed. Lee grounded a single to left but Hamilton popped to Evans at short and Spears popped out to Herring to end the game.
In the championship game, Ryan led off the bottom of the first with a single. Hulett sacrificed her to second then Loveless’ grounder to third was misplayed allowing Ryan to get to third. Evans cracked a single to left to put the first run on the board and, after Chism beat out a bunt to load the bases, Trammell unloaded on an 0-1 pitch to make it 5-0.
Hulett worked around a leadoff single to Bailey Buffington in the top of the first then pitched around a one-out single by Daniele Singleton in the second. After the Lady Hornets were unable to take advantage of hits by Stephens and Ryan in the bottom of the second, a two-out error and a walk gave Bauxite a chance. Destiny McClain hit a grounder to Evans at short. She turned to throw to third, but her throw hit the base-runner who was called for interference as the inning ended.
The Lady Miners managed a lead-off single by Ashley Redmon in the top of the fourth but couldn’t score.
In the fifth, however, a two-out single by Shelby Chavers and a double by Taylor Sledd followed by a passed ball got the Lady Miners’ run home. But Hulett got Redmon to fly to Ryan in right to end the game.