Photo courtesy of Jon Staton
ROGERS — The Bryant Lady Hornets have advanced to the Class 7A State softball tournament semifinals with a 3-1 win over the Rogers Heritage Lady War Eagles on Friday, May 15. Bryant will play in the semifinals on Saturday at noon against old rival North Little Rock. The two teams faced each other in North Little Rock on April 6 and Bryant came away with a 2-1 win.
The Lady Hornets came into the tournament with three losses in their last four games but bounced back in fine fashion on Friday, building a 3-0 lead with a run in the fourth on an RBI single by Cayla McDowell and two runs in the fifth.
Heritage tried to rally in the seventh and managed its lone run on a triple and a single. The Lady War Eagles got the potential tying run to the plate but Bryant got out of the inning with the victory on a pair of groundouts to second around a tap back to Loveless.
Freshman pitcher Raven Loveless shackled Heritage on six hits. She fanned five and walked no one as she took a four-hit shutout into that final inning.
“Raven’s drop was dropping,” noted Lady Hornets coach Debbie Clark.
“Our players are finally understanding that a team has to make the most of what they make,” she added. “Heritage is a good team, well coached. We are s good team. We worked hard at the plate and pounded out three hits, scored three runs —plenty to win. We scored first and we extended our lead.”
Loveless pitched around lead-off doubles in each of the first two innings.
In Bryant’s fourth, Jaramillo got things going with a lead-off double. Abby Staton sacrificed her to third then McDowell shot a single to center to make it 1-0.
In the fifth, Shayla McKissock coaxed a two-out walk then stole second. Regan Ryan followed with a bunt single that sent McKissock to third. And, after Ryan swiped second, Jaramillo drew a walk to load the bases. Staton followed with a tap that the Heritage pitcher fielded. But an errant throw allowed both McKissock and Ryan to score, making it 3-0.
The Lady War Eagles threatened in the top of the sixth with a lead-off single to center but she was picked off first as McKissock, the Bryant second baseman, snuck in behind her. Loveless fanned the next batter but then gave up a single. A second batter reached on a fielder’s choice but Loveless got the final out by inducing a grounder to Mallory Theel at short.
Julie Ward reached on an error to start the Lady Hornets’ turn in the sixth but was stranded.