By Bridget Bauer
VAN BUREN — During the first day of competition at the annual Rumble On The River softball[more] tournament in Van Buren, Bryant split its two games, losing to Morrilton, 3-1, but defeating Van Buren, 2-1.
In the first game with Morrilton, the Lady Hornets (6-5) and Lady Devil Dogs were tied at one apiece going into the third inning. Morrilton scored two runs in the top of the frame to take the 3-1 lead that stood for the victory. They tallied seven hits while Bryant managed two. Junior pitcher Kayla Jolley struck out five batters and walked one.
“She only gave up three runs, but we were just not able to put anything together,” Bryant Coach Debbie Clark said. “The run we did score we were able to bunt to get to first and second. Again, our hitters weren’t able to come through.”
Trailing 1-0 going into the bottom of the second, the Lady Hornets knotted the contest at one-all after Jolley reached on an error and advanced to second. Her courtesy runner, Mercedes Dillard, went to third on Carly Yazza’a sacrifice bunt. Dillard then scored after Julie Ward reached on an error.
Bryant’s two hits were singles courtesy of Katy Stillman in the first inning and Sydney Gogus in the third frame.
In the second contest against Van Buren, Clark decided to shake up the lineup. New names to the starting squad included Dillard, Makayla Nguyen, Skylar Harper, Shayla McKissock while sophomore Abby Staton pitched for the Lady Hornets.
“I’m trying to figure out what’s best, and I can’t reward potential or what was done in the past,” Clark said. “What did I have to lose, another game? I needed to see some players appreciate being on the field and being in the lineup. I could tell they were so grateful for being given an opportunity and being on the field. We can’t be complacent and need more drive.”
Because of the 70-minute rule, the contest only went five innings. Bryant scored one run in each of the second and third innings before stalling a Pointerette rally. Van Buren’s lone run occurred in the bottom of the fifth.
Bryant tallied five hits in this game and included two in the second inning. Harper reached base on an error, and eventually reached third on Brianna Davis’ single. Dillard’s double sent Harper home.
In the third stanza, Stillman got to first base on an error and eventually scored on Yazza’s single. Stillman paced Bryant with her 2-of-3 performance. Dillard, Yazza, and Davis were all 1-of-2 with Dillard the only player with an extra-base hit.
Staton gave up three hits, struck out six batters and walked two. The two walks occurred in the final inning, and were sandwiched around a strikeout. The last hit she yielded scored the run for Van Buren. Staton had bases loaded with two outs but got out of the inning after forcing a ground ball to third where Stillman fielded it and stepped on the bag.