Lady Hornets ease to first conference victory
EDITOR’S NOTE: Because the look back at each day in Bryant athletic history has been so favorably received during the time when there was no sports during the COVID-19 shutdown, BryantDaily.com will continue posting past stories of Bryant athletics either posted on BryantDaily.com (from 2009 to the present) or published in the Bryant Times (from 1998 to 2008).
By ROB PATRICK
SHERWOOD — Christen Kirchner pitched out of bases-loaded jams in the third and the seventh innings to make three early runs hold up as the Bryant Lady Hornets softball team opened 7A-Central Conference play with a 3-1 win over the Mount St. Mary’s Belles on Thursday, March 8.
The win improved the Lady Hornets to 10-1-1 on the season but it was the season opener for the Belles who had a chance to steal a victory in the bottom of the seventh. With one out, Brea Wilkerson beat out an infield hit (despite Bryant protests that the throw to first from shortstop Hailey King was there in time). Lauren Naeyaert followed with a base hit up the middle.
Bryant head coach Lisa Dreher then chose to have the Belles’ top hitter Taylor Morgan walked intentionally to load the bases. It was a risk, putting the potential tying runs in scoring position and the potential winning run on base but Kirchner made it work.
Mount St. Mary’s tried to bunt home a run but Kirchner pounced on the ball and flipped to catcher Randie Juliusson for a force at the plate. She then struck out McKenzie Tanner to end the game.
“Christen is tough and will come through more times than not,” acknowledged Dreher. “As a team, we usually manage to get out of those situations fairly clean. I need them to learn to focus before they get into those, though.
“We’ve been playing to our competition all season,” she continued. “They give just enough to win and no more. During and after the game, the girls seemed satisfied with the win and effort they gave. (Assistant) Coach (Brian) Nivens and I both knew we only had a few with their heart into the game. I told them they would have to change that or their luck would run out. We may have to try different things this weekend to find girls who want it if that’s what it takes.”
The Lady Hornets were set to play in a large tournament hosted by Mount St. Mary’s at the Sherwood Park on March 9-10.
“I am proud of the way the girls are able to adapt defensively,” Dreher noted. “We had four girls start at a secondary position. Bonnie Stroud had two big catches in right field.”
Stroud ranged to her left to rob Mount St. Mary’s batter Christen Kapyon to lead off the second and the sixth.
The Belles managed eight hits in the game while Morgan limited Bryant to three. But all three of the Lady Hornets’ hits drove in runs.
In the second after Kirchner had pitched around a pair of two-out singles in the bottom of the first, Allison Poteet earned a walk then stole second. Laci Rowland sacrificed pinch-runner Brittney Welton to third. She scored from there on Lindsey Cason’s bunt single.
In the third, King led off with a walk and stole her way to third. Kirchner singled to center to drive her home then swiped second and third as well. She was still there with two out, however. That’s when Poteet came through with a base hit to right to make it 3-0.
In the bottom of the third, a pair of singles and a hit batter loaded the bases with no one out for Mount St. Mary’s. And the heart of the Belles’ batting order was coming up starting with Morgan who had two hits in the game. But this time, Kirchner got her to pop out to Cason at third. She then struck out the next two to get out of the inning.
In the fifth, however, Naeyaert slapped a one-out single to center and Morgan belted an opposite-field shot that was just fair for a double. Katie Brooks followed with a sacrifice fly that Kristen Dorsey had to reach high to flag down while back-peddling in center. Morgan was stranded at second when Tanner bounced to Rowland at second to end the inning.
The Lady Hornets’ only other threat came in the sixth when Poteet walked and Rowland was hit by a pitch but they weren’t able to get either home.