Home sweet home.
The Bryant Lady Hornets softball team officially opened the 2010 season on Tuesday, March 2, with a 10-1 thumping of the defending Class 6A State champion Lake Hamilton Lady Wolves at Lady Hornets Field.
Jessie Taylor drove in five runs and Peyton Jenkins fired a five-hitter, striking out nine, walking just one and allowing a lone unearned run.
“I was really pleased,” stated Debbie Stepp, who notched her first win as Lady Hornets coach. “We did much better.”
Bryant came into the game after a 7-4 loss in a benefit contest the night before against rival Benton that included some struggles at the plate with runners on and a few untimely fielding miscues.
“Our defense was much better,” Stepp acknowledged. “My third baseman, Makenzie Rice, was back and she made some great plays. I moved Ashley Chaloner to left field (from first) and Shelby Henson from third to first. That was better. And the girls just have a lot of confidence in the ninth grader, Makenzie. She’s quick and she’s able to get to the ball so well.”
Rice robbed Lake Hamilton’s McKenzie Drake of a double in the first inning with a runner at third but her rushed throw to third after she regained her feet was off-target. The lone Lady Wolves’ run scored on the play anyway.
Stepp used it as a teaching moment. “It was one of thos shots,” she noted. “And we just pulled Makenzie over and we said, ‘Okay, it was a shot. We just hold it and hopefully get the person at second later.”
The Lake Hamilton lead didn’t last long. In the bottom of the first, Jenna Bruick earned a one-out walk and, with two down, Taylor ripped a two-run homer over the fence on the third pitch she saw.
The Lady Hornets actually wound up scoring in every inning but one. In the second, Makenzie Rice walked and stole second. She took third on a grounder to short by her sister Hannah Rice. Bruick drew another walk and swiped her second base. Cassidy Wilson drew a free pass to load the bases for Taylor, who also walked to force in a run. Jenkins followed with a two-run single to left center to make it 5-1.
In the top of the third, Lake Hamilton made its only other bid to score when, with two outs, a pair of singles had runners at the corners. Despite the fact that the second hit ricocheted off Jenkins’ knee, she continued and ended the threat with a strikeout.
In the bottom of the inning, Chaloner drew a walk and Mackenzie Rice reached on an error. Hannah Rice’s base hit made it 6-1 and, after she swiped second, Bruick singled to plate the seventh run.
Bruick got on again in the fifth, slapping a one-out single to left. Wilson reached on an error then Taylor chased them both home with a shot into the gap in right-center for a double.
The final run came in the home sixth when Kelsie Works beat out an infield hit then took second on a late and errant throw. Chaloner followed with an RBI single to center.
The Lady Hornets’ JV team absorbed an 8-1 loss. Jackie Hill went 2 for 3 for Bryant and scored the lone run. Bethany Smith, Hollie Hill and Carly Yazza each had hits as well.
It was a 2-1 game after three innings before Lake Hamilton erupted for five runs in the fourth to take control of the game.
The Lady Hornets jump right into 7A-Central Conference action in their next outing. They host Van Buren on Thursday. The varsity game starts at 5 with a JV game to follow.