VAN BUREN — In position to clinch a No. 1 seed and a first-round bye for the Class 7A State Tournament, which they’ll host starting May 12, the Bryant Lady Hornets suffered through one of their toughest nights of the season on Tuesday. Eight errors undermined their effort as the Van Buren Pointerettes took advantage for a 9-1 win that put them in position to earn that top seed with a win on Friday against Conway.
Both Bryant and Van Buren now have one loss against 7A members of the 7A/6A-Central Conference but the Pointerettes own the tiebreaker with Tuesday’s run differential. Earlier this season, Bryant defeated Van Buren but the margin was just 4-2.
The Lady Hornets must hope for an upset by Conway over Van Buren. Bryant closes out the season with a pair of non-conference games. A visit to Lake Hamilton is set for Thursday before Senior Night in the regular-season finale at home on Monday, May 9, against Bauxite.
As a No. 2 seed, the Lady Hornets would open State on the opening evening at 5:30 against the sixth-seeded team from the 7A-West but, with a win, would have to take on the champion from the West in the second round, probably Bentonville or Rogers, two teams that handed the Lady Hornets losses this season.
As a No. 1 seed, the Lady Hornets would get Thursday off then play on Friday against the winner of a first-round game between the third-place team from the West and the third-place team from the East. They wouldn’t meet another top-seeded team until the semifinals on Saturday.
Tuesday’s result could be the difference between having to win twice to get to the University of Arkansas’ Bogle Park for the finals or needing to win three times to get there.
“We’re still making far too many errors to beat good teams,” said Lady Hornets coach Lisa Dreher. “It’s hard to beat bad teams with eight errors.”
An outfield error proved to be key to Van Buren’s two-run home first. The Pointerettes scored three times in the third to make it 4-0.
Bryant was unable to take advantage of a one-out single by Meagan Chism in the second nor a one-out double by Macey Jaramillo in the third. In the top of the fourth, Sarah Evans and Chism each singled with one out. Raven Loveless grounded into a force at third but base hits by Maddie Stephens and Regan Keesee brought Chism around with a run.
Van Buren got that run back in the bottom of the fourth then used a doubleplay off an infield pop to keep it 5-1 going into the sixth. A lead-off single by Evans went for naught. In the home half, the Pointerettes bumped the lead to 9-1 with the help of a pair of Bryant miscues.
The Lady Hornets gave it one last shot. With one down, Jaramillo reached on an error but she was tagged out at second. Regan Ryan doubled and went to third on Shayla McKissock’s infield hit but they were stranded as Van Buren closed out the win.