CABOT — Senior Raven Loveless slugged a two-run homer in the top of the sixth inning to snap a 2-2 tie and, behind shutout relief by Gianni Hulett, the Bryant Lady Hornets won another first-place showdown in the 7A-Central Conference with a 4-2 win over the Cabot Lady Panthers on Monday.
Bryant now owns sole possession of first place in the league after back-to-back wins over teams that were tied with them for the top spot, North Little Rock on Friday and Cabot on Monday.
At 6-0 versus the league and 19-1 overall, the Lady Hornets face a pair of non-conference foes later this week before resuming at Conway on Tuesday, April 10.
They’ll host the two-time defending Class 6A champion Sheridan Lady Jackets on Thursday, April 5, then 7A-West Conference co-leader Rogers on Friday.
The game-breaking homer was the second hit for Loveless. It came right after Meagan Chism led off the top of the sixth with her second hit a hard grounder to right for a single.
Hulett, who struck out two in relief of Loveless in a 1-2-3 bottom of the fifth, surrendered a lead-off single to Grace Neal in the home sixth but came back to strike out the next two batters before ending the inning by getting Kaitlyn Campbell to fly to Maddie Stephens in left.
Cabot pitcher Aashlyn Spears set down Bryant in order in the top of the seventh then in the home half, Hulett fanned two more before surrendering a single to left by Leah Gerald. The game ended on Rylie Hamilton’s fly to Regan Ryan in center.
Bryant had taken a 1-0 lead in the opening inning. Ryan lashed a single to left and Hulett ripped a base hit literally off Spears. With one out, Chism blooped a single to left and Ryan raced home.
Despite a wild pitch that put runners at second and third, the Lady Hornets were unable to add to that.
Cabot got both of its runs in the home first. Riley Walthall singled and Gerald walked. Hamilton hit a grounder to Maddie Thompson at third. She stepped on the bag for a force. But Aubrey Lee’s hard grounder to second was misplayed allowing Gerald to score to tie the game. Another error let Hamilton come home to make it 2-1.
Loveless put an end to the run-scoring at that point. A grounder to Thompson at third provided another force then a tap back to Loveless ended the inning.
Bella Herring singled with one out in the second for Bryant but was stranded. Loveless pitched around a two-out single to Walthall in the bottom of the inning.
Neither team mustered a base-runner in the third but, in the fourth, Bryant tied it. Loveless singled, took second on a wild pitch, then sneaked home on a bunt hit by Thompson.
Cabot managed singles from Spears and Hailey Gamewell in the bottom of the fourth but to no effect. The fifth was uneventful, setting up the heroics of Loveless in the top of the sixth.