ALMA — Raven Loveless tossed a one-hitter as the Bryant Lady Hornets gained a double-header split with the Alma Airedalettes with a 7-1 win in 7A/6A-Central Conference softball action Friday night.
Bryant had a 4-3 lead in the first game but Alma rallied to tie in the bottom of the seventh and, with the international tiebreaker in effect, won it, 5-4, in the bottom of the eighth.
The loss in the opener snapped the Lady Hornets’ three-game win streak but, since it came against a Class 6A league foe, it has no effect on their chances of making the Class 7A State Tournament, which will be hosted by Bryant.
The Lady Hornets are on a tour of northwest Arkansas. Today they’ll play at Rogers at 10 a.m. then at Bentonville at 3 p.m., in non-conference action but, nonetheless, a chance to see 7A-West teams the Lady Hornets might face at State.
The Lady Hornets are 11-6 overall, 2-1 in league play.
Loveless took a no-hitter into the seventh inning of the nightcap. A lead-off single by Abbye Ostrander spoiled the gem. A pair of errors followed as the Airedalettes avoided the shutout. Loveless fanned six without a walk.
Offensively, Regan Ryan went 3 for 4 after going 2 for 4 in the opener. Julie Ward and Meagan Chism added two hits each in game two. Ward knocked in a pair.
The Lady Hornets scored twice in the first to gain the upper hand. Ryan singled with one out then scored all the way from first on a double by Ward to left. With two away, Chism lined a single to left to chase Ward home.
Meanwhile, Loveless and the Bryant defense retired the first seven batters of the game before Tatum Willhite was hit by a pitch. She was sacrificed to second but stranded.
Willhite was the lone Alma base-runner until the seventh.
The Lady Hornets extended the lead in the home third. With one out, Sarah Evans reached on an error and Chism lined a single to right. Loveless grounded a base hit up the middle to drive in Evans.
Though Chism was caught trying to steal third, Loveless got to second on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Maddie Stephens.
Regan Keesee singled to start Bryant’s fourth. With one out, Ryan cracked a double to left. Keesee would score on Ward’s groundout to first.
It stayed 5-0 until the bottom of the sixth. Ryan’s third hit, an infield single, came with two down. Ward doubled her to third and Evans singled to make it 6-0. Evans and Ward then worked a double-steal to make it 7-0.
In the first game, Bryant was held to five hits.
Anna Turpin pitched the entire game. During one stretch, she and the Bryant defense retired 12 batters in a row while the Lady Hornets were rallying from a 3-0 deficit.
In accordance with the international tiebreaker, each team started their at-bat in the eighth inning with a runner at second. For Bryant in the top of the inning, that was Ryan. Ward sacrificed her to third then Evans got a bunt down on a squeeze play. But pitcher Taylor Courlson got to the ball and threw home in time for the out to deny the Lady Hornets.
In the bottom of the inning, Alma’s Mikayla Lewis started at second. Andrea Griffin got a sacrifice bunt down. Turpin fielded the ball and threw to first but no one was there. The ball went down the right-field line and Lewis scored all the way from first to end the game.
Alma had taken a 3-0 lead in the second. Ostrander’s two-run triple was the big blow.
The Lady Hornets began to whittle on the lead in the top of the third. Macey Jaramillo reached on an error. Turpin sacrificed her to second and, when third base was left uncovered, she didn’t stop until she got there. With two down, Ryan singled to drive in the run.
In the top of the fifth, Bryant got closer. Stephens reached second on an error to open the frame. She stole third and scored on Jaramillo’s sacrifice fly, making it 3-2.
Bryant tied it in the sixth. On another error, Ryan hustled all the way to third. From there, she scored on Ward’s sacrifice fly.
Turpin’s streak of setting down the Airedalettes ended with a two-out single to center by Rachel Longmate in the bottom of the sixth but she struck out Willhite to keep it 3-3 going into the top of the seventh.
That’s when the Lady Hornets took the lead. With one out, Stephens and Jaramillo each singled. Stephens wound up at third and, moments later, scored when Daphne Overbey’s grounder to third was booted.
In the bottom of the seventh, an error, a two-out walk and a single by Madi Tobler tied the game.