By Martin Couch
LITTLE ROCK – The Bryant Lady Hornets (4-1, 1-0) walked 13 times and had nine hits in a[more] 14-0 shutout of Little Rock Central (0-3, 0-1) at Interstate Park on Thursday afternoon.
Peyton Jenkins threw a two-hitter and struck out eight Lady Tigers, while Jessie Taylor highlighted Bryant’s hitting attack with an inside-the-park home run in the first inning for an early 1-0 lead.
“Anytime you get a win it feels good,” Lady Hornets coach Debbie Clark said. “One of my philosophies for the game was for the girls to score one every inning. Jessie’s hit was an inside the park. That girl didn’t have a chance on it and if it were a shorter field, it would have been over the fence.”
Bryant didn’t score in the second inning, but opened up for a 10-run third that salted the game away in 45 minutes. The Lady Hornets sent 16 batters to the plate, banged out six hits and walked seven times against slow pitching from Central’s two hurlers.
Carly Yazza led off the inning with a single to left field, then Taylor followed with a base hit past third base. Jenkins singled to right to score Yazza then, with one out, Kayley Coppock singled to left to score courtesy runners Brittany Ball and Stephanie Cyz.
Coppock moved to second on the throw into the infield and Breanna Sanders drew a walk. Coppock scored on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Katie Stillman, then Hannah Rice and Jenna Bruick each drew walks. Yazza singled in two runs with a shot up the middle, Taylor walked and Jenkins drove in two more runs with a single to right. Kayla Sory, Coppock and Sanders all walked to drive in runs before the inning was over.
“I knew that their best pitcher was hurt so we were going to face some different kind of pitching,” Clark said. “I told the girls to get up there and be disciplined. That’s what I wanted to see and for the couple of innings, it would be hard to adjust to that. But these girls are hitters and they worked hard. I knew they would come through and they did. They crushed the ball and even though we were facing a pitcher that was not as good, coming off a loss was still in the back of our minds.”
The Lady Hornets were coming off a run-rule loss to White Hall on the road and were still feeling the sting of being beaten by 10 for the first time in Clark’s coaching tenure at Bryant.
But the Lady Hornets continued to hit the ball in the fourth inning and got three more runs to ice the win in their 7A-Central conference opener.
Cyz led off the fourth with a single up the middle then stole second base. Ball walked and both runners moved up on a wild pitch when Ashley Chaloner was at the plate. Chaloner ground out to the shortstop, but Cyz scored on the play. Ashlyn Lessenberry, Shelby Henson, Coppock and Kayla Jolley all walked to force in the last two Lady Hornet runs.
“That’s what we wanted to do,” Clark said. “We came out and hit well and made no mental errors. It will help us get ready to play this weekend.”
The Lady Hornets play in the third annual Lady Charging Wildcats Tournament of Champions starting Friday. The tourney features several of last season’s State champions. Along with the Class 7A Bryant team, there’s Class 6A champ Mountain Home, Class 5A champ Greenbrier, Class 4A champion Nashville and 2A champion Foreman, along with the host team, Beebe, and Searcy. At 5:45 p.m., Bryant opens against Greenbrier.
LADY CHARGING WILDCATS TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
At Burns Park
Friday, March 18
Game 1 — North Little Rock vs. Nashville, 4 p.m.
Game 2 — Mountain Home vs. Beebe, 9:15 p.m.
Game 3 — Searcy vs. Foreman, 7:30 p.m.
Game 4 — Bryant vs. Greenbrier, 5:45 p.m.
Saturday, March 19
Game 5 — Game 1 winner vs. game 2 winner, 8:30 a.m.
Game 6 — Game 3 winner vs. game 4 winner, 10:15 a.m.
Game 7 — Game 1 loser vs. game 2 loser, 12 p.m.
Game 8 — Game 3 loser vs. game 4 loser, 1:45 p.m.
Game 9 — Game 5 loser vs. game 6 loser, 3:30 p.m. (third-place game)
Game 10 — Game 7 loser vs. game 8 loser, 5:15 p.m.
Game 11 — Game 7 winner vs. game 8 winner, 7 p.m. (consolation final)
Game 12 — Game 5 winner vs. game 6 winner, 8:45 p.m. (championship game)