Girls advance past Cabot
EDITOR’S NOTE: In this time of COVID-19, with no sports action, BryantDaily.com will be 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).
ROGERS — Pitching, hitting and defense — the Bryant Lady Hornets picked a good time to get it all going at once. In the first round of the Class AAAAA State Tournament on Saturday, May 7, they slugged their way to a 7-2 win over the Fort Smith Northside Lady Bears. Then, on Monday, May 9, it was pitching and defense that saw them through in a 2-0 win over AAAAA-East Conference champion Cabot as Bryant advanced to the State semifinals.
The Lady Hornets were set to play for a spot in the Class AAAAA State championship game in a battle with Fayetteville on Tuesday, May 10, at Rogers’ Veterans Park. The winner would meet the survivor of the other semifinal game pitting Benton against Bentonville. The championship game will be played in the Lady Backs Ballyard at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville on Saturday, May 14, at 5 p.m.
“It’s a real good feeling,” said second-year Bryant head coach Lisa Spears. “We got to sit and watch Fayetteville play, so my girls know what to expect. It’s not going to be a surprise. We’ve just got to get in there and execute.
“This group of girls knows when they need to step up,” she asserted. “It just seems like they pull through in the right times.”
There are times when Bryant junior pitcher Tyler Cox is feast or famine. She’s almost unhittable but control can be an issue. She either strikes them out or walks them.
That made for an intense finish to the Lady Hornets’ quarterfinal win on Monday. Leading 2-0 and three outs away from victory, Cox, on in relief of starter Kara Vaughan, retired the first two batters she faced in the bottom of the seventh. But the next three batters walked putting not only the tying run in scoring position for the potential winning run on base. But Cox got the next batter to ground to shortstop Amie Hubbard to end the game, release the tension and begin the celebration.
Bryant took a 1-0 lead in the first when Amanda Grappe singled, took second and third on wild pitches, then scored on a groundout by Kaci Melhorn.
Vaughan, who allowed six hits as she pitched into the fifth inning, worked out of a bases-loaded no-out jam in the second.
“The girls just made some really awesome plays to get out of that,” Spears noted. “Kara pitched a good game and our defense really held it for us.”
In another inning, Vaughan and the Bryant defense worked out of a jam with runners at second and third and one out. In the fifth, there was more trouble and Spears turned to Cox who walked the first batter she faced but then struck out the next one to get out of trouble with the 1-0 lead intact.
And in the top of the sixth, the Lady Hornets added a little insurance. Again Amanda Grappe was the instigator as she drew a lead-off walk. Cox singled her to third and Allison Grappe brought her home with a sacrifice fly.
Cox appeared to be breezing as she worked an easy bottom of the sixth and recorded the first two outs of the seventh before the game-ending drama developed.
Vaughan contributed two of Bryant’s four hits in the game.