Lady Hornets prep for return to conference play with 14-1 win at Batesville
EDITOR’S NOTE: Because the look back at each day in Bryant athletic history has been so favorably received during the time when there was no sports during the COVID-19 shutdown, BryantDaily.com will continue 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
BATESVILLE — The final score may indicate that the Bryant Lady Hornets picked up right where they left off when spring break came along. Winners of nine in a row, the Lady Hornets pounded the Batesville Lady Pioneers, 14-1, on Monday, March 29. It was their first game in 11 days because their only contest scheduled during the break at Vilonia on Thursday, March 25, was rained out.
“We saw some rust,” Bryant head coach Debbie Stepp stated. “There were a couple of mental errors we made defensively. That’s why they scored their run. I don’t mind a team scoring a run but not because we lapsed on routine plays we should’ve made.
“We also made a couple of base-running errors,” she added, “but, you know, in the girls’ defense, this field is rough.”[more]
The dirt infield at the Batesville park was pretty much clumped mud.
“But I told them, that’s why we play games so they can learn how to make an away field their field,” Stepp added.“We saw some rust,” she reiterated, “but what can I expect? We practiced one time and we had our game cancelled over spring break so I’m glad we played today.”
The game proved to be a nice tune-up before the Lady Hornets resume 7A-Central Conference play at home against Mount St. Mary Academy of Little Rock on Tuesday, March 30.
Stepp also saw value in the long trip to Batesville.
“I told the girls, this is getting us ready for Van Buren next week,” she related, referring to the team’s conference trip on April 9. “And you don’t mind coming to play people that are class people and you know you’re going to come out and get treated right and have some good competition.”
The Lady Pioneers and Stepp’s former team at Wynne were conference rivals.
“I’ve been coming here for 15 years, back and forth,” she mentioned. “This is (Batesville Coach) Sean (Coker’s) second year and he’s trying hard and doing a good job. They always have a quality program up here. They stayed with us for a while. And then the pitcher started wearing down and we started hitting the ball.”
The game was highlighted by Jessie Taylor’s eighth home run of the season, a three-run blast in the top of the fourth inning that turned a 4-1 Bryant lead into a 7-1 advantage. The Lady Hornets put the game away with a seven-run sixth, a typical late-game outburst.
“We actually scored three runs the first inning,” Stepp pointed out. “That’s not characteristic but I’ll take it. I told them I’ll take a run an inning. A run an inning is what I like but I’ll take it.”
The opening salvo began with a walk to Jenna Bruick. Cassidy Wilson, who was on base all five times she came to the plate including three hits and a walk, bounced into a force at second. Taylor then hit a high fly to right that was misplayed. Wilson got in a rundown between second and third but reached third when one of the throws was dropped there. Taylor cruised into second.
The runners held as Peyton Jenkins bounced to third but Kayla Sory smacked a two-run single to left, taking second on a late throw home. Shanika Johnson chased in Sory with a drive to the base of the fence in left-center but she was thrown out trying to get to third on the play.
Jenkins struck out the side around a two-out error in the bottom of the inning then fanned the side in the second. She would finish with 10 strikeouts in six innings allowing just two hits. The Batesville run was unearned.
Bryant made it 4-0 with a run in the top of the third. Wilson singled and, after Taylor lined out to left, Jenkins grounded into a force at second but wound up at that bag herself after a wild relay to first. Sory, who was on base all four times at the plate, grounded a single up the middle then McKenzie Rice slapped a base hit to right to drive in courtesy runner Bethany Smith with the run.
Jenkins issued her first walk to Shelby Winkle to start the bottom of the third. Tess Hurley got a sacrifice bunt down. Jenkins fielded the ball and tried to get the force on Winkle at second. But the ball got through into center and evaded Kelsie Works in the outfield. Winkle scored and Hurley wound up at second.
Batesville’s first hit was a bunt single by Rachel Shellenberger that put runners at second and third. A pitch in the dirt allowed Shellenberger to take second but Taylor, the Bryant catcher, corralled the ball in time to keep pinch-runner Shelby McGough at third.
After Jenkins struck out Kandess Piftzner, Maggie Beshears hit a grounder to Rice at third. She threw home to retire McGough and, a pitch later, Jenkins got Sydney Lewis to tap back to the mound to retire the side, stranding two.
In the top of the fourth, Hannah Rice split the gap in right-center for a one-out triple and, with two down, Wilson walked, setting the table for Taylor who unloaded on the first pitch to her for her three-run jolt.
Angela Woods, the Batesville pitcher, drew a walk to start the bottom of the fourth but when Anna Crowell bunted through a Jenkins pitch, Bruick, coming over from second, snuck in behind courtesy runner Britany Carlson at first as Sory, the first baseman, charged. Taylor whipped a throw to Bruick to nail Carlson for the first out of the inning. Crowell struck out then Alex Davidson singled up the middle. It was Batesville’s only base hit out of the infield.
On the first pitch to Winkle, Davidson tried to steal second only to have Taylor gun her down to retire the side.
Jenkins and the Bryant defense would go on to retire the final six in order with Wilson making a nice back-handed stop in the hole at short to rob Beshears of a hit. Sory made a nice scoop on a throw in the dirt to complete the play.
Meanwhile, the Lady Hornets made it a run-rule win in the sixth. Bruick ignited the uprising with a walk. Wilson shot a single through the right side that sent Bruick to third. A late throw there allowed Wilson to take second. Taylor followed with a bloop single to right-center to pick up her fourth RBI. Jenkins doubled in Wilson and Sory was hit by a pitch to load the bases. McKenzie Rice’s sacrifice fly made it 10-1 as courtesy runner Ashlyn Lessenberry scored.
With two down, Carly Yazza made it a run-rule (10 runs) advantage when she bounced an RBI single through the left side to plate courtesy runner Stephanie Cyz.
Hannah Rice smacked a one-hopper off the glove of Shellenberger’s glove at third for an infield hit, driving in Sory and when Bruick beat out an infield hit, the bases were loaded for Wilson who capped things off with a two-run single that shot past Piftzner at short.