Raven Loveless fired a one-hit shutout, facing just one over the minimum, and the Bryant Lady Hornets hammered nine hits, five for extra bases, as they overwhelmed the Little Rock Central Lady Tigers, 12-0, as they returned to 7A-Central Conference action on Tuesday night.
The victory improved Bryant to 3-0 in league play, 13-3 overall including a 5-2 trip to Gulf Coast Classic in Gulf Shores, Ala., over spring break.
Sarah Evans belted a two-run homer to highlight a game-breaking six-run fourth that helped make it a run-rule victory. Madison Lyles and Regan Ryan each had two hits.
Central’s lone base-runner was Breanna Shackleford who hit a single off the wall in right-center for the only hit. Otherwise, Loveless struck out five and the Lady Hornets played error-free defense.
The Bryant pitcher retired the first 11 batters she faced.
“Raven pitched a real good game,” said Lady Hornets coach Lisa Dreher. “I gave her a pitch count per inning and she only missed that once and that’s all right. We wanted to stay under 12 pitches and she did that so I’m proud of that.”
The coach said she challenged her hitters going into the game.
“I wanted them to focus on the things that they’ve been working on individually, offensively,” she explained. “We have a few of them that aren’t hitting up to their potential. They have mechanical things they need to work on. I feel like we accomplished that. We had some good at-bats. There were a lot of positives out there.”
Asked about the effects of the trip to Alabama, the coach related, “I think it was very beneficial. They came together as a team. Situations like that, you don’t have a choice but to come together. We’re going to need that. They’re going to need to remember that they’re a team and they need each other and they’re going to need each other all the way through May. That’s what it comes down to.”
The Lady Hornets took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Ryan reached safely on an error by Central pitcher Ann DePriest. A wild pitch allowed her to advance to third and she scored from there on the first of Gianni Hulett’s two sacrifice flies.
In the second, Macey Jaramillo singled and advanced to second when Brooklyn Trammell’s grounder off the pitcher’s glove was fielded by shortstop Skylar Winston who threw to first just in time for an out.
Alert base-running by Jaramillo got her to third when a DePriest, the Central pitcher, let a return throw from her catcher, Shackleford, get away. Lyles slapped a single to right to drive her home.
Moments later, Lyles stole second and drew a wild throw that allowed her to scamper to third. She scored when Loveless grounded out to the right side, making it 3-0.
Bryant’s third inning began with Ryan drilling a liner to right-center. Even though he was cut off before it got to the wall, Ryan sprinted all the way to third for a triple. Hulett followed with a walk and stole second. Meagan Chism’s hit a pop to shallow center that the Central shortstop got to. But Ryan’s speed was too much. She tagged and scored.
With two down and Hulett at third, Jaramillo hit a drive to right center that was dropped. Hulett scored easily and when the relay to third was errant, so did Jaramillo, making it 6-0 going into the fourth.
After Shackleford broke up the shutout in the top of the inning, the Lady Hornets unloaded in the bottom half, starting with Lyles’ double to left. Loveless plugged the gap in right-center for an RBI triple.
With one out, Ryan beat out an infield hit and when the Lady Tigers made sure to keep Loveless at third, Ryan scooted to second without a play.
Hulett’s second sacrifice fly made it 8-0. Ryan, who tagged and went to third on the play, scored moments later, on a wild pitch.
Chism revved up the offense again with a double down the left-field line. Evans swatted the next pitch over the boards in left to make it 11-0.
The final run came when Jaramillo walked and scored all the way from first when Trammell’s single to left was misplayed.
Loveless needed just five pitches to retire the side in the top of the fifth, closing out the win.