Photos by Rick Nation
Sophomore centerfielder Regan Ryan placed her name in the record books and the Bryant Lady Hornets completed a round of routs on the first day of the Class 7A tournament on Thursday at the Lady Hornets’ Yard.
Bryant, the No. 2 seed from the Central Conference made quick work of the Har-Ber Lady Wildcats from Springdale, 14-1, in five innings, nearly ending it in three frames. The loss ended the season for the young Lady Wildcats (one senior), the sixth-seeded team from the West Conference.
In earlier games, Fort Smith Southside sent Little Rock Central home, 13-0, then defending State champion North Little Rock knocked out Fayetteville, 13-3, and Rogers dismissed Conway, 11-0.
The top-seeded teams, Van Buren (Central), Cabot (East) and Bentonville (West) will be in action on Friday along with the West’s 2 seed, Rogers Heritage. Van Buren gets Southside at 10 a.m., followed by Heritage and North Little Rock at 12:30 p.m., and Cabot against Rogers at 3. Bryant takes on Bentonville at 5:30 p.m., in a rematch of a wild game in Bentonville on April 9, when the Lady Hornets, playing their fourth game in two days, suffered a 9-4 loss in which they committed six errors.
“I hope to see us play well defensively,” said Bryant head coach Lisa Dreher. “If we can keep it fairly clean, I think we’ll be good offensively. There’s no question, we’ll be motivated to play that game.”
On Thursday, the Lady Hornets hammered out 15 hits and committed just two errors in the win over Har-Ber. The barrage was led by Ryan who came into the game two shy of setting the state record for singles in a season. She proceeded to go 4 for 4, using her eye-popping speed to beat out three of them on the infield.
The record was 50 singles by Skyler Anderson of Foreman, set in 2014. Ryan beat out a roller to second to tie the mark and igniting a five-run outburst in the bottom of the first inning. She set the new standard on her second trip to the plate in the bottom of the second, beating out a roller to short.
She extended the record to 53 before the game was over and will try to add on as the tourney continues.
Shayla McKissock, Meagan Chism, Julie Ward and Macey Jaramillo each had two hits in the game. Both of Ward’s were doubles and one of Jaramillo’s. Raven Loveless belted a triple along the way.
“We hit the ball well,” acknowledged Dreher. “Our pitch selection is getting back to where we were and we’re doing more than just trying to hit it hard. We’re being patient when we need to be. I like where we are offensively right now.”
The Lady Hornets’ speed on the bases made an impact right away. On Ryan’s opening single, the throw for first was too late and as the first-baseman Chloe Wheeler threw back to the pitcher, no one covered second. Ryan hardly hesitated and sprinted to second.
McKissock slapped a single to left and when the throw from the outfield came into third when Ryan already stood, McKissock cruised into second.
That set up Chism’s RBI single to break the ice.
Ward drew a walk to fill the bases. Though McKissock was thrown out at the plate on a grounder to third by Loveless, Jaramillo singled. Chism and Ward appeared to score but both runs were negated when it was ruled that Ward had obstructed the Har-Ber shortstop. A disputed call that nevertheless stood up. Ward was ruled out and Chism had to go back to third.
But she scored moments later on a wild pitch. Maddie Stephens reached on an error that got Loveless home then Mallory Theel yanked an RBI single into left driving in two to make it 5-0.
“They’re being observant and, for the most part, smart on the bases and I like that,” said Dreher.
Har-Ber managed its first hit in the top of the third when Brooklyn Morgan singled to center. Claire Collier sacrificed her to second then she advanced to third when Abi Scott hit a hard grounder off the glove of Theel at first. The ball ricocheted to Jaramillo, the second baseman, who got to it in time to throw back to Theel at first to retire Scott. Honesty Holt then bounced back to Loveless to end the inning.
Ward’s first double started the bottom of the third. She scored on Loveless’ triple and Bryant was on its way to a nine-run outburst.
Loveless scored on Jaramillo’s grounder to second then Stephens got it going again with a single. After Theel’s foul pop was dropped, she cracked a single to put runners at first and second. Brookyn Trammell hit a grounder to Aryn Scoggins at short. Her only play was to throw to Magen Roberts at third but they missed connections. Stephens scurried home to make it 8-0.
Ryan then swatted a single to left, driving in Theel. McKissock singled in a run then Chism turned on the first pitch she saw and ripped a liner that skipped past Micah Wheeler in left. Both Ryan and McKissock scored to make it 12-0.
Ward’s second double of the inning plated Chism then Jaramillo’s two-out two-bagger made it 14-0.
A run away from the 15-after-3 run rule, the Lady Wildcats got out of the inning.
And they scored in the top of the fourth when, with two out, Taylor VanHook doubled and scored on Wheeler’s single.
Collier singled and Scott reached on an error in the fifth but both were stranded as the Lady Hornets closed out the victory.