Bryant wins first fast-pitch outing
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The Bryant Lady Hornets’ first foray into fast-pitch softball was a successful one Tuesday as they scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth just before the time limit expired to extract a 5-4 win over the Jacksonville Lady Red Devils.
The Lady Hornets, the defending Class AAAAA State champions in slow pitch, made the conversion to fast-pitch this season and opened the season Tuesday at Lady Hornets Field.
Junior Jennifer Smith went the distance on the mound for the Lady Hornets and walked just two while fanning three and scattering 10 hits.
“Jennifer did a real good job,” said Lady Hornets coach Stacy Mallett of Smith, who has played fast-pitch on a tournament team in the summer. “I was very pleased. She’s not the fastest but she’s very accurate. She can hit her spots and throws two or three pitches.”
Defense, which had always been a forte of the Lady Hornets’ program, was spotty, Mallett allowed.
“We had some breakdowns but it was good in spurts,” she said. “We caught the ball fine it’s just the situations that arise in fast-pitch that we’ve got to get used to. We’re having to think about runners and what base to cover and that sort of thing. Really, considering we’ve only had our infield one day and the bases for one day, we did pretty well. The mistakes we made we’ll have fixed today.”
One of the defensive situations that the Lady Hornets had to adjust to was stolen bases. Jacksonville took advantage by swiping eight bases in the first few innings. But the Lady Hornets adjusted and after catcher Kelly Bennett gunned down a Lady Red Devils’ runner on a steal attempt in the third inning, the running game was pretty much squelched.
Jacksonville scored once in the top of the first but the Lady Hornets got the run back in the home half when Andrea Hammock reached on an error, went to second on a sacrifice by Sarah Medlin and scored on a two-out single by Meagan Clancy.
The Lady Red Devils added a run in the top of the second but, again, Bryant tied it in the bottom of the inning. This time, it came with one blast as Kelly Steed, a transfer from Little Rock Mount St. Mary’s, blasted a home run down the left-field line.
Both teams pushed a run across in the fourth inning as well. For the Lady Hornets, Clancy singled and stole second drawing a wild throw that allowed her to reach third. With two down, Jeanne Randall struck out but the Jacksonville catcher let the third strike get past her. Randall took off for first and reached safely when the catcher’s throw sailed into right field. Clancy scored on the play to knot the game at 3.
Jacksonville again took the lead in the top of the sixth but, in the home half with time running out, the Lady Hornets rallied for the win. Medlin led off the inning with a single and took second on a sacrifice by Stephanie Kennedy. Clancy then smacked her third hit of the game to drive in the tying tally. After Bennett walked to push Clancy to second, Randall came through with the game-winner, an RBI double.
“We hit well,” Mallett said. “For the first time out, I was really pleased.”
Bryant’s JV team also prevailed 14-9.
The Lady Hornets travel to El Dorado on Thursday then visit Sheridan on Friday. Sheridan is the defending State champion in fast-pitch.