Photos by Rick Nation
NORTH LITTLE ROCK — To open the annual Tournament of Champions at Burns Park on Friday, the Bryant Lady Hornets secured one of their highest quality wins so far this season with a 4-1 decision over defending Class 6A State champion Greenwood. Advancing in the winners’ bracket of the tourney, however, the Lady Hornets had a tougher day on Saturday.
In the semifinals, they were engaged in a tight game with the Rogers Lady Mounties but it got away late. Rogers snapped a 2-2 tie with three runs in the fifth and added two more in the sixth for a 7-2 victory.
That put Bryant in the third-place game against the Vilonia Lady Eagles where they couldn’t overcome a seven-run outburst in the second inning that made the difference in Vilonia’s 7-4 win.
Now 7-4 overall this season, the Lady Hornets are set to return from their spring break on Tuesday, March 29, at Benton Harmony Grove. They’ll host North Little Rock in a non-conference contest on Thursday, March 31.
Rogers 7, Bryant 2
Rogers hammered out 14 hits including three by Maddie Massanelli. Sarah Hulsey had two hits and three runs batted in with a homer.
Shayla McKissock and Regan Ryan each had two hits for Bryant. Julie Ward contributed a double as did Meagan Chism.
The Lady Hornets grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first after a pair of two-out singles were wasted in the top of the first by Rogers. McKissock singled to open the home first and stole second. Ryan lined a single to drive in the run.
Chism doubled to open the bottom of the inning but was out trying to go to third on a grounder to short by Macey Jaramillo. Maddie Stephens singled but, with two down, Jaramillo was throw out trying to steal third to end the threat.
Rogers missed a chance to score in the top of the third. Massanelli doubled and Grace Risenhoover came on as a courtesy runner. Alex McManus singled to left but Stephens charged and came up throwing. Risenhoover was thrown out at the plate.
With McManus on second, Faith Edwards singled up the middle. McManus held at third and wound up being stranded there when Kennadie Stucki, in to run for Edwards, was thrown out trying to steal second by Ward, the Bryant catcher, ending the inning.
The Lady Mounties got the lead run home in the fourth, though. Hulsey doubled, took third on a groundout and scored on a bouncer to third.
Bryant tied it back up in the home half. Ward doubled and in came Hennessae Shavers as a courtesy runner. Chism sacrificed her to third then Jaramillo delivered a sacrificed fly to make it 2-2.
A single and an error set the table in the Rogers’ fifth. Hulsey jacked a three-run homer putting her team in the driver’s seat.
A two-out hit by McKissock came to naught for Bryant in the home fifth then keyed by a triple from Allyn Hensley and an error, the Lady Mounties scored twice more in the top of the sixth.
Down 7-2, the Lady Hornets were retired around a two-out error to close out the game.
Vilonia 7, Bryant 4
McKissock had three hits and Ward two with three runs batted in but the Lady Hornets were unable to make up for the rugged second inning.
A trio of errors contributed to the seven-run frame. All but one run was unearned against Loveless, who gave up just three hits and walked two before giving way to Kerrigan Allen in the third. She shut the Lady Eagles out on two hits in three frames.
Morgan Gray singled to start Vilonia’s second. An error allowed Alexis Hightower to reach base and, with one out, Madison Daves doubled to drive in the first run.
Another error allowed Hightower to score. A walk then loaded the bases. All three runners wound up scoring, the first on a base hit to left by Callie Eary. The last two runs scored on the third error of the inning.
The Lady Hornets whittled a run off the lead in the top of the third. McKissock beat out an infield hit and stole second. With two down, Ward cracked an RBI single.
Vilonia was retired in order in the third and the Lady Hornets countered with three in the top of the fourth. Jaramillo singled up the middle and Allen walked. With one out, McKissock’s infield hit loaded the bases for Ryan, whose tap to the pitcher resulted in a force at the plate. But Sarah Evans was hit by a 2-1 pitch, forcing in a run and setting the stage for Ward’s two-run single to left, which made it 7-4.
Allen worked around a two-out single by Abby Hightower in the fourth and a two-out double by Alexis Hightower in the fifth.
Meanwhile, Vilonia pitcher Sydney Wader settled in and pitched around a lead-off single by Stephens in the fifth and a one-out double by Ryan in the sixth.