Lady Hornets get ‘beastly’ late to crush Cabot’s upset hopes
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
Photos by Kevin Nagle
Peyton Jenkins recorded a whopping 16 strikeouts but it took a nine-run sixth-inning rally highlighted by[more] Jessie Taylor’s 10th home run of the season for the Bryant Lady Hornets to dismiss the pesky Cabot Lady Panthers, 12-4, on Thursday.
The win improves the Lady Hornets to 22-4 overall, 12-1 in the 7A/6A-Central Conference going into their final league game at North Little Rock on Monday, May 9, at Burns Park. The Lady Hornets, the defending Class 7A State champions, clinched at least a share of the conference title with the victory but need a win over North Little Rock on Monday to earn the outright title and the league’s top seed at this year’s State tourney in Bentonville, which begins Friday, March 13.
Taylor, Jenkins and Jenna Bruick each had three hits for the Lady Hornets but Cabot’s Morgan Newton kept them off the board for the first three innings as her teammates’ feast or famine work at the plate produced a 4-0 lead.
With the third out of the third inning, however, Jenkins started mowing the Lady Panthers down. She retired 13 of the last 14 batters she faced including 10 on strikes.
The Lady Hornets broke through on Newton with a run in the fourth and Jenkins got it started with a single. Kayla Sory walked and Cassidy Wilson sent a sharp single to left to load the bases for Ashley Chaloner who drove in the run with a sacrifice fly.
But Newton, aided by an interference call that cost the Lady Hornets a run, got out of the inning still up 4-1.
In the fifth, Bryant whittled another pair of runs off the margin. Bruick ignited the offense this time by slicing a double to left. She tagged and went to third on a fly to right by Katy Stillman then scored on Taylor’s single to left.
Jenkins kept the inning going with her second single. Though Taylor was forced at third on a grounder by Sory to the third sacker, Wilson pulled a hit to left to load the bases and Jenkins scored on Chaloner’s bouncer to the left side.
Again, however, Newton escaped, forcing the Lady Hornets to strand three but it only delayed the inevitable.
After Jenkins worked around a lead-off single by Jenny Evans in the top of the sixth, Hannah Rice led off the game-breaking home sixth with a single to left. Bruick smacked a hit up the middle that sent Rice to third. She scored from there to tie the game on a groundout to second by Stillman.
That brought up Taylor who unloaded on a 1-0 pitch, sending it over the fence in dead center to give Bryant a 6-4 lead.
Jenkins got the carousel going again by grounding a hard single to left. Brittney Ball came in to run for her and she advanced on second on a base hit by Sory.
Even the outs were hard hit for the Lady Hornets in the sixth. Wilson’s liner was speared by Brooke Taylor at third for the first out.
A walk to Chaloner filled the bags for Yazza who shot a single up the middle to drive in Ball and Sory. Rice was hit by a pitch to load them up again then Bruick walked to force in the ninth run. An RBI single by Stillman and a two-run base hit to left by Taylor completed the blitz.
Cabot went down in order in the top of the seventh as Jenkins closed it out with a pop to Bruick at second then her 16th strikeout and a grounder to McKenzie Rice at third.
The Lady Panthers had established the early lead with a run in the first when Kristen Sumler was hit by the second pitch of the game, took second on a sacrifice bunt by Kristi Flescher then scored on a two-out, two-strike double by Brooke Taylor.
Jenkins struck out four in the bottom of the second to work around a one-out single. She had to fan four because one of the victims reached base on a dropped third strike.
In the fourth, however, the Lady Panthers scored three times and started thinking they might be headed for an upset. With one out, Flescher singled and, with two out, Brooke Taylor walked. Evans cleared the bases with a triple to deep center then scored on a single by Taylor Anderson to make it 4-0.
But the Lady Panthers would manage only one baserunner after that as Bryant surged to victory.