Lady Hornets earn first win at tourney
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BENTON — Amie Hubbard and Keisha Stickley each had two hits and Kelly Norman pitched a no-hitter as the Bryant Lady Hornets picked up their first win of the season, an 8-1 decision over the Hot Springs Lakeside Lady Rams in the first round of the Benton Invitational Tournament on Friday, March 26, at Tyndall Park.
Unfortunately, the Lady Hornets absorbed a tough 9-4 loss to Beebe the next morning before being ousted from the tournament by the seventh-ranked Benton Lady Panthers 11-0 later in the day.
Norman walked one and struck out nine in the victory over Lakeside. Three errors allowed Lakeside to score its lone run in the top of the fifth inning. Norman had pitched around a lead-off walk in the first and a two-out error in the second. With one out in the third, a batter reached base on a third-strike wild pitch but the Lady Hornets turned a doubleplay to retire the side.
A six-run second inning put the Lady Hornets on the road to the win. It began with a walk to Allison Grappe. Stickley reached on an error then Brittany Grant walked to load the bases. A bunt single by Norman scored the first run.
After Stickley was thrown out trying to score on a wild pitch, Hailey King reached base on a third-strike passed ball to load the bases again. Randi Jullison’s bunt single drove in a run then Amie Hubbard was hit by a pitch to force in another. Kara Vaughn picked up an RBI with a sacrifice to make it 4-0. After Heather Gephardt was hit by a pitch, Grappe capped the inning with a two-run single.
The Lady Hornets added a run in the third when Stickley singled, advanced on a sacrifice by Grant and, after Norman walked, scored on a sacrifice by King.
In the fourth, Hubbard beat out a bunt single. Vaughn’s fly to center was misplayed then Gephardt’s single drove in the run.
Against Beebe, the Lady Hornets built a 4-0 lead only to have the Lady Badgers rally for four runs to tie it in the bottom of the third then erupt for five runs in the bottom of the fifth to win it before the time limit ran out.
Bryant established its lead in the first when back-to-back doubles by Vaughn and Gephardt produced a run. In the second, Stickley walked, Grant singled her to third and King’s sacrifice got the run home to make it 2-0.
In the third, Gephardt and Grappe cracked two-out singles and both raced home on a double by Stickley.
Norman, the Bryant starting pitcher, had only allowed one baserunner up to that point but, in the bottom of the third, a one-out error opened the gates for the tying rally. A pair of singles loaded the bases then the Lady Hornets got a force at the plate for the second out. But, just one out from getting out of the inning with the lead, the Lady Hornets were hit with a single, a walk and a double in succession before they could get that last out.
After being retired in order in the fourth, the Lady Hornets got a two-out double by Vaughn in the fifth but she was stranded.
Beebe took advantage of a pair of errors, a pair of walks and a couple of hit batters with two hits to put together the decisive five-run uprising in the bottom of the inning.
Against Benton, the Lady Hornets were held hitless, managing just three base runners, all in the third inning after Benton had established a 6-0 lead. An error allowing Grant to reach base came with one out in the inning but Grant was thrown out trying to steal. King was hit by a pitch and Vaughn walked but both were stranded.
Benton added three runs in the fourth and two in the fifth.