For more photos from these events by Rick Nation, go here
BENTON — Head coach Lisa Dreher and her assistant Eric Ryan met with their team for a long time after a rough day Friday night.
The Bryant Lady Hornets came into the day 2-0, having scored 22 runs in those two wins. On Friday, they lost twice and managed just 3 runs.
The meeting came in the right-field corner of the Benton Lady Panthers’ field after the host team had pounded out a 12-2 win over Bryant in the annual Big Red Classic. That disheartening loss came after a heartbreaking 2-1 home loss for the Lady Hornets against the Bentonville West Lady Wolverines.
For certain, those were two tough teams, a chance for the Lady Hornets to measure their progress. It’s early. There’s still work to be done. And that’s what Dreher and Ryan were talking about after the nightcap.
Bentonville West 2, Bryant 1
The Lady Hornets’ hot bats were cooled by West’s Elisa Sokolsky who allowed just three hits. She walked three and struck out 11.
Still, Christine Mefford matched her for five innings, by the end of which, the Lady Hornets held a 1-0 lead.
Mefford didn’t give up a hit until the top of the fourth when the Lady Wolverines came up with one-out singles by Sarah Cooper and Ryen Rassi. But Mefford struck out Sokolsky and got Laynee Tapp to fly to right to maintain the 1-0 lead.
The Lady Hornets had mustered that tally in the bottom of the first when, with one out, Maddy Hoskins walked and raced to third on Abby Gentry’s double to center. Hoskins tried to score on Alissa Suarez’ grounder but Sokolsky got to the ball in time to throw home for the out.
Gentry, however, hustled to third and Suarez took second. Gentry scored when Bella Herring’s grounder to second was misplayed.
In the bottom of the fourth, Buddha Dillon was hit by a pitch from Sokolsky with one out. With two down, Emma Bonvillain blooped a single but both runners were stranded when Sokolsky ended the frame with a strikeout.
Mefford pitched around a one-out pop single by Caroline Wilhelm in the top of the fifth. In turn, Hoskins drew a one-out walk but was left aboard.
In the sixth, Mefford struck out the first West batter. A pop single by Cooper and a walk to Rassi followed. Sokolsky popped out to Kallee Nichols in right. On a 2-2 count with two away, Tapp doubled to give her team a 2-1 lead.
Bryant threatened in the bottom of the sixth when Suarez walked and, with one out, Dillon singled on the infield. Suarez stole third so the tying run was there with one out. Leah Hicks grounded to the pitcher who held Suarez at third as Hicks reached to load the bases.
But Sokolsky got the second out on strikes and the third on a grounder to short to preserve the 2-1 lead.
The Lady Hornets were retired 1-2-3 in the bottom of the seventh.
Benton 12, Bryant 2
The Lady Panthers’ five-run first put the Lady Hornets in a hole they couldn’t dig out of. They trailed 7-0 when they put together a rally in the top of the fifth. The scored twice to stay alive but then the Lady Panthers scored four in the fourth to blow the game open. A run in the fifth made it a run-rule win.
Benton hammered 12 hits including three by Gracie Redmon and two for Riley Gilmore and Melton, who slugged a two-run homer in the third.
Bryant was limited to just two hits with Suarez breaking up Melton’s no-hitter with an RBI triple in that fourth inning. Gentry, who had reached on an error and stolen second, scored on the Suarez drive. A bunt single into no-man’s land toward second base by Bella Herring got Suarez home.
After Melton gave way in the circle to Elana Scott, Herring was thrown out trying to steal and Dillon popped to Melton, roaming out from second into shallow right.
Bryant had a chance to score first in the game when Macy Hoskins walked with one out and stole second. But she got no further.
Hicks walked to lead off the third, but courtesy runner Bailey Glenn was caught trying to steal and Melton retired the next two.
Benton’s five run first started with a one-out single by Redmon. Hicks, Bryant’s starting pitcher, induced a grounder to second off Scott’s bat as Dakota Hobson, running for Redmon, took second.
That’s when the floodgates opened. Alyssa Houston drove Hobson home with a triple to right. Walks to Arys Hart and Gilmore loaded the bases for Melton, who delivered a single to make it 2-0. When Aubree Goodnight followed with a double, it cleared the bases.
Melton’s homer in the third made it 7-0.
After Bryant got on the board, the Benton fourth started with a single by Redmon. Scott hit a grounder to short but an errant throw to second allowed Hobson to score. Houston grounded to short, but Scott beat the throw to second.
With two away, Gilmore came through with a two-run double. An error allowed the final run of the inning to score.
Bonvillain was struck by a pitch in the top of the fifth. She took second on Nichols’ bunt but got no further.
Shelby Sample led off Benton’s fifth with a walk. She stole second and took third on Redmon’s tap to Mefford, who was on in relief of Hicks. Sample scored the game-ending run on Scott’s sacrifice fly to right.
The Lady Hornets open 6A-Central Conference play next. They travel to Fort Smith Northside on Monday, March 15.