It’s the time of the season in spring sports when seniors start to realize how few opportunities are left to play for their high school teams and, with that, a focus on each game, each inning, each at bat, each pitch. That intensified focus often allows them to, in short, step up their play with renewed urgency.
On the heels of their 5-4 win over the first-place North Little Rock Lady Charging Wildcats on Tuesday, the Bryant Lady Hornets, behind seniors Meagan Chism and Aly Bowers, struck for four runs in the first inning and tacked on in the fourth and fifth on the way to a 9-4 win over the Little Rock Central Lady Tigers.
It was a 6A-Central Conference game that was originally scheduled for Little rock on April 18, rained out until Wednesday then moved to Bryant.
Chism, a four-year starter, went 1 for 2 with two runs scored and three runs batted in including a home run that
Bowers went 1 for 3 with a double, a run scored and an RBI.
They were aided by freshman Caitlin LaCerra’s three hits, two by junior Maddie Thompson with two runs batted in and two RBIs by junior Haleigh Beck.
Plus, junior pitcher Hannah Work relieved in the second inning and scattered seven hits over six innings, fanning five to keep Central at bay.
Earlier this season, the Lady Hornets had edged Central 1-0 in nine innings.
The win improved the Lady Hornets to 18-10 on the season overall, 8-5 in conference play. They’ll likely be the number four seed from the 6A-Central Conference, though they have an outside chance at moving up to three as they play current third-place team Conway on Friday (weather permitting). They close out the season at home with a non-conference battle with rival Benton on Tuesday, May 7. That will be Senior Night when Chism, Bowers, Lexi Helton and Henessae Shavers will be honored.
Chism, who walked twice in Wednesday’s game, led off the game with a free pass. (Central was the home team since it was their schedule home date despite it being played in Bryant.) LaCerra beat out a bunt single. The duo pulled off a double steal and both scored when Thompson cracked a single to right.
A walk to Regan Dillon extended the uprising then Bowers ripped her double to plate Thompson. Dillon then stole home on the front end of a double steal to make it 4-0.
Helton started in the circle for the Lady Hornets and surrendered a walk and a single to open the home first. She got Anna Voth to groundout as both runners moved up a base. Sydney Whisnant followed with a liner to LaCerra in center. She fired in to Alissa Suarez at second to double off the trail runner, ending the inning.
In the second, however, an opening single led to a pitching change. Work walked Andie Priest and allowed a single to Jah’Kaiya Woods to load the bases. A walk to Tabry Jordan forced in a run but Work came back to strike out Terri Williams and Paityn White. She got a strike in to Kadie Latin before a single to center drive in two to make it 4-3.
But Work got Voth to ground to Thompson at third. She stepped on the bag for a force to end the inning.
Work set down the Lady Tigers in order in the third and her teammates tacked onto the lead in the top of the fourth.
An error on Bella Herring’s fly to left opened the door. Herring wound up at second and Shavers worked a walk. That set up Chism’s three-run blast to left.
Woods and White each singled in the fourth but Work and the Bryant defense kept them from whittling into the 7-3 margin.
In the fifth, Bowers was hit by a pitch, took second on a wild pitch then advanced to third when Suarez’ drive to center fell in for a double. Beck followed with a liner to left that fell in for a two-run single and a 9-3 lead.
The Lady Tigers went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the fifth. In the sixth, they put together a two-out rally. A single by Jordan, a walk to Jasmine Brooks and a single by White make it 9-4 before Work got Latin to bounced out to Suarez at second.
In the seventh, Work fanned the first two batters before Whisnant singled. Priest grounded out to Chism to end the game.