Lady Hornets edge Fayetteville to earn return to State title tilt
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
BENTONVILLE — Trying gamely to make Kayla Sory’s clutch two-run single in the top of the sixth hold up, Bryant Lady Hornets’ pitcher Peyton Jenkins[more] struck out the first batter of the bottom of the seventh, the Fayetteville Lady Bulldogs’ Ashley Pool. But the next batter, Maddy Mills drilled a triple to left.
So, the tying run was in scoring position with just one out in the 2-1 game to determine one of the finalists in the Class 7A State championship at Bogle Park next Saturday.
And Jenkins came through as she so often has, striking out Lindsey Williford on three pitches then, on an 0-2 delivery, induced a tap back to the mound by Brittney Hoskins. With Jenkins’ successful throw to first, she had done the job again.
And, again, the Bryant Lady Hornets will play for the State crown on Saturday, May 21, at the same place they won it last season on the campus of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.
Jenkins, in out-dueling Fayetteville’s Megan Newberry, allowed just five hits and a walk while striking out 12. The lone Lady Bulldogs’ run was a solo homer by Lindsey Davidson to lead off the bottom of the sixth.
The win gives the Lady Hornets one more shot at arch-rival North Little Rock, this time with the State championship on the line. North Little Rock’s Lady Cats pinned two losses on Bryant during the regular season, gaining the top seed to the tournament as the two teams shared the 7A-Central Conference title.
Newberry, who allowed seven hits and three walks while fanning two, dueled with Jenkins to a scoreless draw through five innings. Both pitchers worked around singles in the first frame. Jessie Taylor had Bryant’s hit with two out in the first. After that, Newberry and the Lady Bulldogs set down eight in a row. Taylor singled again to break the string but a doubleplay kept it scoreless going into the fifth.
A two-out walk to Kaley Coppock and a single by Ashley Chaloner produced a threat for the Lady Hornets in the fifth, but a grounder to short off the bat of Carly Yazza resulted in a force out that ended the inning.
After working around the first-inning single by Sara Wilson, Jenkins set down six straight. Williford singled and Hoskins walked to lead off the third. Neither budged after that as Wilson fouled out to third baseman McKenzie Rice then Davidson popped out to Jenna Bruick at second and Newberry flew out to Sory in center.
Jenkins worked a 1-2-3 fourth and struck out the side around Williford’s second hit of the game.
So both pitchers had pretty much dominated to that point. But that changed in the sixth. Bruick lined a single to left to get the inning started. Katy Stillman bunted her to second. Taylor reached base and Hannah Rice came on to run for her. A walk to Jenkins loaded the bases and, after Kayla Jolley came in to run for Jenkins, Sory stroked a 1-0 pitch to left to drive in Bruick and Rice, snapping the scoreless tie.
To start the bottom of the sixth, Davidson drilled a 3-2 pitch for a homer to right-center. But Jenkins kept her cool and retired the heart of the Fayetteville order on a pair of pop ups and a strikeout.
Bryant threatened again in the top of the seventh. Bruick drew a two-out walk and Stillman singled to left but Newberry got Taylor to ground into a force at third, sending the game to the bottom of the seventh.
The win improved the Lady Hornets to 24-6 on the season.