CABOT — The Bryant Lady Hornets track team put themselves in position to challenge the Conway Lady Wampus Cats for the 7A-Central Conference championship after the first day of competition at the league meet on Tuesday, May 5.Conway finished the day with 34 points to Bryant’s 30 through four events. Cabot was third with 20 points.
The meet concludes on Thursday with the finals in the running events scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m.
“I was pleasantly surprised with our performances today,” stated Lady Hornets coach Danny Westbrook. “We scored more points than I expected for the first day. Conway has a lot of points out there they will gain in the finals, and right now they look really hard to beat. However, If they slip up at all, we play to be right there to take advantage.”[more]
In the first-day finals, the Lady Hornets had two athletes score in the individual events and, in the 3200 meter relay, they were third.In the relay, Mikayla Speake, Dylan Vail, Leah Skinner and Olivia Ruple combined on a time of 10:27.3.
Kayla Davidson provided the highest finish of the day for Bryant with a second-place effort in the discus. Her throw went 104’9”. Shelby Henson’s toss of 86’7” added seventh-place points.
In the long jump, Ashley Peta was third with a leap of 16’6” with Morgan Seelinger sixth at 16’2”.
Karlee Porter cleared seven feet in the pole vault to finish sixth. Sarah Holt went over at 6’6” to place seventh.
“The girls that competed today really stepped up,” Westbrook asserted. “I thought Kayla Davidson did a fantastic job finishing second in the discus. Our 3200 meter relay team ran the best time of the year and Ashley Petz jumped great in the long jump.”
Looking to Thursday, Westbrook added, “We qualified three girls in both hurdle races.”
CABOT — The Bryant freshman track team finished fifth among the boys and sixth among the girls at the 2009 Central Arkansas Junior High Conference, South Division, championship meet on Tuesday, April 28.
Individually, Caleb Thomas scored 35 of the boys’ 80 points while also helping on relay teams that scored.North Little Rock won the boys competition with 118 points to 103.5 for Conway Blue.
The Lady Hornets scored 59 points highlighted by second place finishes in three events. Lake Hamilton dominated the meet with 236 points. Sheridan was a distant second with 73.[more]
Thomas dueled Benton’s Zach Riley in both the 100 and 200. In close finishes, Riley came out on top. In the 100, Riley finished in 11.28 to Thomas’ 11.34. In the 200, Riley (23.44), North Little Rock’s Rodney Bryson (23.53) and Thomas (23.95) all finished within 0.6 of each other.
Thomas was also second in the long jump and triple jump. In the former, he leapt 19-2 with teammates Jonathan Parks 4th (17-8) and Omar Gulley 6th (17-1). In the latter, he coverted 38-1.5.In the high jump, Gulley finished second, clearing 5-6 with Thomas fourth at 5-4.
The Hornets also picked up second-place points in the 4×800 meter relay, finishing in 9:30.12.Bryant was sixth in the 4×100 (48.03) and seventh in the 4×400 (4:01.88).
Individually, Forrest Fowler finished fifth in the 800 in a time of 2:19.66 with Tyler Potts seventh for the Hornets in a time of 2:21.81.In the 1600, Jesse Wolf’s 5:24.91 was good for fifth with Peter Alverio’s 5:25 clocking good for sixth.
Sam Stoops contributed to the point total with an eighth-place finish in the 110 hurdles, in a time of 20.04.
For the girls, Stacy Emmerling scored in two individual events. She was second in the 1600 with a time of 5:44.37, and fifth in the 800 in 2:42.72.
In the 1600, Kylar Oswalt was fourth in 5:56.34 and Kaitlyn Nickels was sixth in 6:01.03.
Bryant was second in two relays. In the 4×400, the Lady Hornets’ quartet turned in a 4:43.34. In the 4×800, a clocking of 11:16.13 was good for second.
In the 4×100 relay, Bryant was fifth in 1:00.28.
Bethany Smith scored in both hurdles races. She was fifth in the 300 with a time of 54.19 and sixth in the 100 with a time of 18.53.
Autumn Rouse added points in both the shot and discuss. Her toss of 28-3 in the shot garnered a sixth-place finish as did her throw of 70-1 in the discus.
Kiana Thomas added a seventh in the 400 with a time of 1:08 as did Lauren Magneson in the high jump where she cleared 4-4.
VAN BUREN — Sparked by a big day from Christen Kirchner, the Bryant Lady Hornets clinched the undisputed 7A-Central Conference championship on Tuesday, April 28, with a doubleheader sweep of the Van Buren Pointerettes, 6-3 and 10-0.
Kirchner, at the end of a marathon at-bat, slugged a three-run homer in the top of the seventh inning of the first game to provide the winning margin. That win secured the No. 1 seed from the conference to the Class 7A State Tournament in Bentonville this weekend. The romp in the second game, which secured sole possession of first place in the league, was highlighted by freshman Peyton Jenkins’ no-hitter, the first of her high school career.
It’s the third conference title in the last four years for Bryant and head coach Lisa Stanfield.
The Lady Hornets finish league play with a 12-2 mark. They take a 20-7 overall record into State where they’re set to open on Saturday, May 2, at noon against the winner of the Friday contest between Van Buren (the fifth seed from the Central) and Springdale Har-Ber (the fourth seed from the West).
Bryant has won nine of its last 10 games.[more]
In the dramatic opener on Tuesday, the game was tied 3-3 going into the seventh inning. Senior Sarah Hart led off the inning with a single to left. Pinch-hitter Jesseca Cudd followed with a shot down the line in right for a single.An out later, Kirchner came to bat and battled the Van Buren pitcher through 13 pitches, 11 of which she fouled off. On pitch number 14, Kirchner blasted a home run over the left-field wall to put the Lady Hornets ahead 6-3.
The Pointerettes went down in order in the bottom of the seventh as Kirchner closed out the win in which she scattered six hits, walked just one and struck out seven. All three Van Buren runs were unearned. At the plate, she was 4-for-4 with a double and a homer. She drove in five of Bryant's runs.
The Lady Hornets scored a run in the first inning but had two runners thrown out on the bases, one at the plate and one at third. Bruick had walked and Kirchner singled to put runners at the corners. Cassidy Wilson then got a bunt down only to have Bruick thrown out at the plate. Kirchner hustled to third and Wilson took off for second, drawing a throw from the Van Buren catcher. Kirchner took the opportunity to sprint home, beating the return throw to make it 1-0.
Van Buren took the lead in the bottom of the second with the help of an error that extended the inning. Keri Arnold followed with a three-run homer.
Bryant answered in the top of the third. With one out, Kim Wilson and Jenna Bruick singled and Kirchner drove both of them home to make it 3-3.
Van Buren threatened to regain the lead in the bottom of the sixth. Runners reached second and third with no one out but Kirchner got the first out on a comebacker then struck out the next two to keep it a one-run game going into the tell-tale seventh.
In the second game, Bryant broke out to a 5-0 lead in the second inning. With one out, Hart and Cudd drew consecutive walks. After a double steal, Shanika Johnson got a bunt down that was misplayed allowing her to reach safely and a run to score.
Moments later, Cudd came home on a wild pitch. Johnson, who reached third on that play, also scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-0.An infield hit by Paige Turpin got things going again. Bruick walked and Kirchner singled in a run sending Bruick to third. And when Kirchner got herself in a rundown between first and second, Bruick came on in with the fifth run.
In the third, Jenkins, Jessie Taylor and Kayla Sory each scored amid a flurry of bunts. Cudd drove in Sory, making it an 8-0 lead.
Bruick reached on an error and Ashley Chaloner was hit by a pitch in the fourth. Jenkins sacrificed the runners to second and third then Taylor dropped another bunt for a single, loading the bases for Sory whose base hit made it 9-0.
Bryant made it a run-rule win with a run in the sixth, closing out the sweep.
Jenkins walked four and hit a batter while striking out six and pitching around an error along the way.
(Special thanks to Sam Chaloner for providing details of the games.)
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Twelve runs, 10 hits and one major bruise.
The Bryant Lady Hornets took one more step toward an outright 7A-Central Conference championship with a 12-0 thumping of the Little Rock Central Lady Tigers at Interstate Park on Friday. They're one win away from wrapping up the title and the No. 1 seed from the league to the State tournament in Bentonville but they'll have to go a long way to get it. They finish the season with a doubleheader at Van Buren on Tuesday, April 28. A sweep will make them undisputed champs, a split would create a tie for the title with North Little Rock but the Lady Hornets would retain the top seed because they beat the Lady Cats in both meetings this season.
Bryant improved to 18-7 overall and 10-2 in the league with the win over the Lady Tigers who were overmatched just as they had been when they lost to the Lady Hornets, 13-0, at Bryant back on March 3.
Jessica Cudd handled the pitching duties for the Lady Hornets. Usually the JV starter, Cudd whipped up a two-hit shutout, striking out 10 without a walk.[more]
Offensively, Jenna Bruick and Shanika Johnson each had three hits. Christen Kirchner added two. But it was a case of the ball hitting Kirchner rather than the other way around that provided a scary moment for the Lady Hornets. With two out in the top of the fifth and the eventual final score on the board already, Kirchner was at third with two out with Kim Wilson at the plate.
In a marathon at bat, Wilson fouled off eight two-strike pitches. Among those was a shot down the third-base line that Kirchner just got out of the way of. A pitch later, on another one, she didn't. The shot struck her in the right side. She turned and crumpled to the ground as the coaches hurried to her. Wilson obviously felt bad — though it was hardly anything she could've prevented.
But it was quiet at the park for a few minutes as Kirchner, a four-year starter, and an obvious team leader beyond the fact that she's a key pitcher and one of the team's best hitters. With the State tournament looming, the thought of a serious injury, had everyone on the Bryant side holding their breath. Fortunately, the ball had missed her ribs, her pitching arm and her hip.
Wilson went to check on her teammate and the playful Kirchner feigned anger for just a second. Wilson turned away but Kirchner chased after her and gave her hug before returning to her spot at third base. Wilson fouled off a few more pitches before striking out to end the inning.
Cudd retired the Lady Tigers in order in the bottom of the fifth and the win was in the books.
Central's only hits were a lead-off single in the bottom of the first by Kayla Dillard. Cudd and her teammates then set down 11 in a row before Kayla Patton slapped a double just inside the third-base back with two down in the fourth. After that, the final four were retired to close out the shutout.
The Lady Hornets took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Kirchner singled, advanced to third on a pair of passed balls then scored on an error.
In the third, Bruick singled and took second on an error. Kirchner then hit a liner to center that was misplayed allowing Bruick to score. Kirchner wound up at third and she came home a pitch later on a groundout by Jessie Taylor, making it 3-0.
The Lady Hornets blew the game up in the fourth, starting with an inside-the-park home run by Johnson. Cudd's fly to center was dropped. Cassidy Wilson, in as a courtesy runner for the pitcher, stole second and advanced to third on a bunt single by Ashley Chaloner who raced to second on the play when the Lady Tigers left the bag untended. Kelsie Works' grounder to second was booted allowing Cassidy Wilson to score and she too hustled to second when no one covered the bag as Chaloner was held at third.
Bruick brought both of them home when she slapped a spinning double down the left-field line, making it 7-0. Bruick stole third and scored on Kirchner's groundout to short for the first out of the inning.
Taylor followed with her own inside-the-park round-tripper on a drive to deep left to make it 9-0.
Paige Turpin got the inning going again when she reached on an error. Kim Wilson popped to short but when Dillard tried to double-up Turpin at first, he throw sailed and the Lady Hornets' senior advanced to second. Johnson singled her home then eventually scored to make it 11-0.
The final Bryant run was a result of Bruick's one out infield hit in the top of the fifth, followed by a double from Kirchner. A two-out walk to Turpin and a double-steal had runners at second and third to set up Kim Wilson's extended plate appearance.
CABOT — After battling for 100 minutes (regulation plus two overtimes) to a scoreless tie, the Bryant Hornets and the Cabot Panthers went to an old-fashioned shootout to decide their final regular-season contest. Cabot hit four goals to Bryant's three on penalty kicks and thus survived with a 1-0 win in a game that was a bittersweet example of the Hornets' season in 2009.
In girls action, the Lady Hornets tuned up for State with a 1-0 win over Cabot's Lady Panthers improving to 12-8 overall and 6-8 in the league. They'll be the No. 5 seed from the 7A-Central Conference, opening State on Friday, May 1, at 1 p.m. against the fourth seed from the 7A-West back at Cabot.
"I was able to rest most of my starters for more than half the game," noted Lady Hornets coach Doug Maxwell.
The lone goal was a header by Haley Montgomery off a corner from Maggie Hart.
The Hornets' contest proved to be a gut-check with one defender out of action to start the game and a starting wing lost in the first few minutes due to injury.[more]
"The game was a battle," stated head coach Jason Hay. "It was hot and we were very low on subs due to the JV game. You can only play three halves a night so nine of our 11 players played the entire game and they played their guts out. I didn't hear any of the varsity guys once complain about being tired or wanting out of the game.
"Our kids have overcome a lot of adversity this season," he added. "Coach (Bob) Williams and I were extremely proud of their effort. Both teams played hard and deserved to win. It's a shame that someone had to lose. Our seniors went out giving everything they had."
As has been the case for much of the season, the Hornets played stingy defense but struggled to get the ball in the goal on offense.
"We had several shots but couldn't convert," Hay acknowledged.
He added the keeper Devin Norris "had a good night with several saves."
Bryant finished 8-14 overall, 2-12 in the 7A-Central Conference after starting the season with a championship at a tournament in Paragould.
"Our main goal at the first of the season was to make the playoffs," Hay noted. "Even though we didn't make it, I was proud of the effort and work ethic of our team. I don't mind taking the blame for us not getting there. The kids played hard, never gave up, and we will build on this season for next year.
"We had a chance to win in the last few minutes of all but a few games we played and, in the 7A-Central, that's not an easy thing to do," he added. "We are losing just three starters for next season but we will return with eight starters and have six freshman lettermen that will be coming back as well. Having young guys with two or three years of playing time left that have varsity experience will give us something to build on at the start of next season."
It's really probably more than anyone should've expected, considering the Bryant Hornets only had two starters returning from a team that won 16 games the previous season, finished tied for third in their league and lost in the opening round of the Class 7A State Tournament.
But sometimes, as the old saying goes, you catch lightning in a bottle.
The Hornets came into Thursday's game at DeJanis Memorial Field at DeSalvo Stadium in Burns Park, needing a win to clinch at least a tie for the league title. They faced the North Little Rock Charging Wildcats, one of the two teams with which they were in a virtual tie for first. The Wildcats, too, were authors of the Hornets' worst loss of the season, 11-4, at Bryant on March 31.
So, when senior Tyler Sawyer found his groove on the mound and the Hornets took advantage of three North Little Rock errors with six hits in a six-run fifth, they were on their way to doing just what they needed to do, winning 11-5.
And, lo and behold, they got some help. The last-place Russellville Cyclones (whom the Hornets found out just a week or so ago have been playing very well lately) stunned the Conway Wampus Cats (the other team tied for first), 12-7, leaving the Hornets alone at the top, champions of the 7A-Central Conference.
North Little Rock dropped into a three-way tie for second with Conway and Little Rock Catholic pending games on Friday. Van Buren will complete a game against Catholic then play North Little Rock at DeJanis Field. Conway visits Cabot on Tuesday, April 28.[more]
For Sawyer and fellow seniors Justin Blankenship, Kaleb Jobe, Austin Queck and Jonathan Wade, it's just as new as it is to the freshmen and sophomores on the team. It's Bryant's first league title since 2005.
"It feels really good," Sawyer sighed. "It's all the better because it's my last chance to do it."
Sawyer, who was the starter in the loss to North Little Rock in March, struggled a bit early but then retired 10 in a row and 11 of 12 during his six-inning stint in which he struck out seven, walked just one and scattered seven hits.
"He stepped up," declared Bryant's first-year head coach Kirk Bock. "And I'm telling you, the dugout was unbelievable. If you can't get pumped up with those cats behind you, you don't have a pulse. They certainly rose to the occasion. When we came in, I hadn't said anything (like usual). Then, after pre-game, I said, 'You noticed I haven't said anything. You know, if you can't get pumped up and excited about this game, you don't have pulse, so just get it done. And, I tell you, I listened to Jonathan Wade in the dugout. He has a key role for us. And he was saying, 'Man, I've been waiting on this game all dad-gum day.' When you get these guys on the bench and the courtesy runners excited like that, good things are going to happen."
"I was just going to let my defense work for me," Sawyer said. "I knew I wasn't going to strike everybody out. We figured out what (the North Little Rock batters) were looking for early in the count. They were taking the first-pitch curve ball. So we were just grooving it in there until they got two strikes on them."
Offensively, Blankenship had a big night with three hits and three runs batted in, including a two-run triple in the third inning that put the Hornets ahead to stay. Caleb Garrett and Chris Joiner each had two hits as did Kaleb Jobe, who extended his hitting streak to 15 games. Hunter Mayall, who was 1-for-3, had his streak of reaching base safely end at 11 plate appearances in a row. During that stretch he had eight hits and three walks. He reached the first two times to the plate but then flew out to left to snap the string. But he came back with a walk at a key moment in the decisive six-run fifth.
A hidden factor in the win too, beyond the obvious impact he's had on the team this season, should be credited to Bock for being so diligent in rescheduling rained out conference games. The Hornets were working on the original schedule while North Little Rock, showing a little of the taxation on its pitchers, was playing the third of four league games this week. They'd lost to Cabot, 7-2, on Monday, edged Little Rock Central on Tuesday and will host Van Buren on Friday hoping to hang onto second place and gain the first-round bye at State that goes to the second seed as well as the top seed.
By the way, Bryant will open State tournament play at noon on Saturday, May 2, at the Randall Tyson Sports Complex in Springdale where half the games in the first two rounds will be played. The other half will be played at Fayetteville High School with the championship at Baum Stadium on the University of Arkansas campus Friday, May 8. Bryant will play the survivor of the Friday, May 1, game between the No. 4 seed from the 7A-West and the No. 5 seed from the 7A-Central. (Any one of four teams could still be the Central's fifth seed.)
Thursday's game started like it would be a battle of attrition. After the Hornets were unable to take advantage of a single and a pair of walks in the top of the first, North Little Rock took the lead in the bottom of the inning on a bloop double by A.J. Williamson and a pair of groundouts. Andrew Hohn's bouncer to Brady Butler at first brought home the run.
Bryant tied it in the second when Sawyer reached on an error, Blankenship sacrificed Wade, the courtesy runner, to second and Brennan Bullock's one-hop shot to second was misplayed. When the ball ricocheted into the outfield, Wade scored.
Tyler Brown and Butler were each hit by pitches after that by North Little Rock starter Will Sandefur but the right-hander steadied himself and retired the next two to leave them loaded.
David Stracener singled and Cody Grace walked to start the bottom of the second. Sawyer struck out David Hohn then got Johnny Pounders to hit a fly to right-center that was picked up by the strong cross breeze preventing Blankenship from getting to it before it dropped. Stracener scored and when the relay was off line to the plate, Grace followed to give the Wildcats a 3-1 lead.
That's when Sawyer found his stride and started the stretch in which he set down 10 straight.
And the Hornets got him the lead in the top of the third. Mayall singled to center and Jobe walked to set the table. Sawyer got a bunt down that Sandefur fielded. He wielded and fired to third trying to get the lead runner only to have it sail out of the reach of David Hohn. Mayall scored to make it 3-2. Two pitches later, Blankenship got into an inside delivery. His long fly down the right-field line might've gone out had it not been into the wind. As it was, it landed right at the foul line beyond the reach of Pounders in right. Two runs scored and Blankenship had a triple that gave Bryant a 4-3 advantage.
North Little Rock's coaches argued that the ball had landed foul but to no avail.
Sandefur struck out the next two and, after a walk, fanned a third to strand Blankenship at third.
But Sawyer continued to mow the Wildcats down and, in the fourth, David Hope relieved for North Little Rock and pitched around a double by Jobe.
So, it stayed 4-3 until the tell-tale fifth that started with Blankenship's second hit, a single up the middle. Bullock sacrificed him to second and a wild pitch got him to third. On a 1-2 count, Tyler Brown whacked a high fastball into left to drive in the run and the hit parade cranked up.
Butler doubled and Hope gave way to Kody Gill. With the infield in, Garrett drove a worm-burner that got past Grace at short for an error that allowed both Brown and Butler to score. Joiner beat out a slow roller to third and when the ball was kicked, Garrett hustled into the unoccupied bag. A walk to Mayall loaded the bases and a walk to Jobe forced in a run to make it 8-3. Sawyer singled to plate Joiner but Mayall was thrown out at the plate. Blankenship then finished what he started with an RBI single to make it 10-3.
In the bottom of the fifth, Sawyer string was snapped by a two-out single by Williamson but he retired Brittan Ibbotson on a bouncer to first to end the inning.
Lefty Zach Robinson relieved for the Charging Wildcats in the sixth and issued a one-out walk to Butler and singles to Garrett and Joiner. But Mayall slapped a liner back at the pitcher who scooped it up and threw to first for a doubleplay. There was a dispute about whether Robinson had caught the ball before it had hit the ground but to no avail. The doubleplay ended the inning.
Consecutive singles by Andrew Hohn and pinch-hitter Ryan Scott gave North Little Rock some life in the bottom of the sixth. Sawyer steadied himself and retired the next two including Grace on strikes before David Hohn singled to left to trim a run off the margin. Sawyer, however, tracked down a pop foul by Pounders outside the first-base line to end the frame with runners at the corners.
Bryant countered in the top of the seventh off Stracener, the fifth Wildcats pitcher. Jobe singled, Sawyer sacrificed and, with two down, Bullock singled him home.
Ben Wells relieved Sawyer in the bottom of the seventh. With one out, he walked Williamson who proceded to steal second and take third on a wild pitch then scoring on an errant throw. Wells fanned Ibbotson, however, and, after a single by Andrew Hohn, got Hayden Byrd to bounce out to second to end the game.
"We put the ball in play," Bock emphasized. "We didn't strike out much (four times) and we made them field it and throw it, and it didn't happen for them all the time. And we had 14 hits."
The win improved Bryant to 20-7 overall. The Hornets are set to play at Pine Bluff at 1 p.m. on Saturday then host Lake Hamilton on Monday at 5 in advance of heading to State.
The Hornets JV was also victorious with Austin Benning cracking a three-run home and Matt Neal picking up the win on the mound.
BRYANT 11, NORTH LITTLE ROCK 5
Joiner, dh4120Ibbotson, lf4000
Mayall, 3b3110A.Hohn, cf4021
Jobe, ss-c3321Gill, dh-p2000
Sawyer, p-ss3011Robinson, p0000
Wade, cr0200Scott, ph1010
Blankenship, rf4133Byrd, 1b1000
Bullock, lf4011Stracener, 1b-p3110
Brown, 2b4111Grace, ss2100
Butler, 1b1110D.Hohn, 3b3011
Ellis, c0000Pounders, rf3011
Wells, p0000Cormier, c2000
BRYANT0130601 — 11
North Little Rock1200011 — 5
E—D.Hohn 2, Williamson, Butler, Sandefur, Grace, Ibbotson. DP—North Little Rock 2. LOB—Bryant 12, North Little Rock 5. 2B—Williamson, Jbe, Butler. 3B—Blankenship. SB—Pounder, Blankenship, Williamson 2. S—Blankenship, Bullock, Sawyer 2.
NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Bryant Lady Hornets head coach Lisa Stanfield tried to treat it like any other game.
It wasn't, of course. The Lady Hornets came into the game at Burns Park tied with the North Little Rock Lady Charging Wildcats for first place in the 7A-Central Conference. The winner was practically assured of the league crown. For Bryant, a win would not only put them a game ahead of North Little Rock, it would give them the tiebreaker, a sweep of the Lady Cats.
"I really didn't want them to go in any different," she said. "This group — I really don't want them to think too much about stuff. They're pretty athletic. So we're really just better off going with what comes naturally."
But the girls knew.
"They were anything but calmed and collected," Stanfield admitted.
And they certainly weren't after it was over. Sparked by a grand slam by freshman Jessie Taylor that turned a 3-2 deficit into a 6-3 lead, the Lady Hornets claimed a 6-4 victory over the defending Class 7A State champion Lady Cats and last year's State tourney MVP Jessica Shelton.[more]
The Lady Hornets improved to 9-2 in league play while North Little Rock suffered its third loss in conference. Bryant was set to visit Little Rock Central on Friday then travel to Van Buren for a league doubleheader on Tuesday, April 28. They'll need to win at least two to claim the conference championship and the top seed from the league at State in Bentonville starting Friday, May 1.
While admitting her team still has work to do, Stanfield mentioned, "We have six games left." She meant the three regular-season games and three (after a first-round bye) at State, getting to the championship.
And the track record for Bryant is pretty good in that regard. Over the last four years, the Lady Hornets reached the championship game twice and the semifinals twice.
Yet, Stanfield wasn't going to let her team rest of its laurels. With the big picture in mind, she related after the game, "We still had a lot of mental things that we worked on for two hours yesterday in practice and we're still making the same mistakes. They're not extremely noticeable but I think, if we don't fix them pretty soon, it's going to get us."
Strategically, Stanfield had her team concentrate on laying off Shelton's out-pitch, a riser. They followed instructions for the most part and they hammered out nine hits and all of their runs on the Lady Cats' star over five innings.
In fact, they jumped on her right away. Jenna Bruick led the game off with an infield single and, though she was thrown out trying to steal, Cassidy Wilson followed with a base hit. She stole second and, with two out, Peyton Jenkins came through with a clutch RBI single up the middle.
Wilson, only recently back from injury, had three hits in the game.
Christen Kirchner started the game in the pitcher's circle for the Lady Hornets. She worked around a pair of singles in the bottom of the first and a one-out single in the second.
In the top of the second, Sarah Hart earned a one-out walk. Kim Wilson sacrificed to get courtesy runner Kelsie Works to second. Paige Turpin was then in by a pitch, breaking the mask on her helmet. Though shaken, she played on. Bruick then drew a walk to load the bases for Wilson who cracked a fly to deep center that was caught, the only time in the game she was retired.
After Shelton retired the Lady Hornets in order in the top of the third, North Little Rock surged into the lead in the home half. Tiffany Roby was hit by a pitch. Natalie Mosley got a sacrifice bunt down and wound up on second when a play was made, unsuccessfully, to get the lead runner at third. Molly Edwards followed with a grounder that took a bad hop past shortstop Kayla Sory that went for a two-run double. Callie Simmons singled her home and North Little Rock led 3-1.
Bryant got one of those runs back in the top of the fourth when Taylor singled to right, Hart was hit by a pitch and Kim Wilson ripped one to center to drive in the second run. Works, running for Hart, got to second and hesitated before taking off for third and the relay from the outfield got her at third.
Kirchner kept it 3-2 by striking out two and, after surrendering a single, getting the third out on a grounder to Taylor at third.
The tell-tale uprising for Bryant began with Cassidy Wilson's second hit, a double. Kirchner got a bunt down past the pitcher for a hit. And, when North Little Rock concentrated on holding Wilson at third, Kirchner went to second. With one out, Sory got a bunt down and reached base when the Lady Cats again held the runner at third instead of making a play at first.
With the sacks jammed, Taylor took a ball then launched a low, outside pitch, going with it to right field and clearing the fence for a grand slam, giving Bryant a 6-3 lead.
Jenkins relieved Kirchner in the bottom of the fifth and retired the side in order.
Bryant threatened to get more in the top of the sixth when Bruick beat out a bunt single. She was thrown out trying to steal but then Cassidy Wilson cracked her second double and Kirchner beat out an infield hit, taking second when the Lady Cats held Wilson at third. But both were stranded when Jenkins bounced out to short.
Jenkins' main job, however, was on the mound and she pitched a scoreless sixth, working around a two-out bunt hit.
A double by Sory came to naught in the top of the seventh and, in the home half, North Little Rock refused to go quietly. Edwards walked with one out, Simmons singled her to third to set up Howard who delivered a sacrifice fly to make it 6-4 with the tying run coming to the plate. But Jenkins got the next batter to pop up to second to end the game.
In addition, the Lady Hornets JV team finished up a 13-0 season with a 5-0 win over the North Little Rock JV.
The pre-game ceremonies to honor seniors Sarah Hart, Christen Kirchner and Paige Turpin had been a success. And the Lady Hornets had started the game with a four-run burst that included a three-run homer by Kirchner. And the Lady Hornets got to make their archway of bats for her after she circled the bases. In fact, they got to do it twice more in the third when Kirchner and Jenkins blasted back-to-back round-trippers to make it 6-2.
But the Cabot Lady Panthers spoiled the fun, scoring three in the fourth and two in the fifth for a 7-6 victory that knocked the Lady Hornets out of sole possession of first place in the 7A-Central Conference. Bryant dropped to 16-7 overall and 8-2 in league play going into a showdown with defending State champion North Little Rock at Burns Park on Thursday with first place and a possible conference championship on the line.
Bryant beat North Little Rock earlier in the season, 7-3, but the Lady Charging Wildcats were without star pitcher Jessica Shelton that night. The Lady Hornets also have games against Little Rock Central on Friday, April 24 and two against Van Buren on Tuesday, April 28, to play.[more]
Cabot actually scored first in Tuesday's game thanks to a two-out error by the Lady Hornets that produced the first run and kept the inning going for a second.. In the top of the first, Becca Bakalekos walked and advanced on an illegal pitch, an old bugaboo from Jenkins, the Lady Hornets' starting pitcher. Bakalekos took third on a groundout and, with two down, scored when Jenny Evans reached on a throwing error. Another illegal pitch got Evans to third and Brooks Taylor singled her in to make it 2-0.
Another throwing error put runners at second and third but Jenkins got Chelsea Conrade to bounce to second to end the inning with no further damage.
And Bryant went to work with the bats. Jenna Bruick slapped a single to left and beat the play at second on Kayla Sory's bunt. Kirchner came up and, on a 3-1 pitch, blasted her first home run of the game to give her team the lead.
Jenkins kept the inning going with a walk. Courtesy runner Cassidy Wilson stole second, advanced to third on a groundout by Jessie Taylor and scored on a groundout by Hart. Kim Wilson singled but was stranded at second.
Jenkins worked a 1-2-3 second then struck out two to work around a pair of singles in the third.
In the home third, Kirchner parked the first pitch for her second homer and, two pitches later, Jenkins cracked her four-bagger. With one out, Hart drew a walk and stole second base. Kim Wilson flew to right and Kelsie Works, running for Hart, tagged to go to third but, on a disputed call, was ruled to have left the bag too soon for the third out to end the inning.
Cabot cut the lead to 6-5 in the fourth aided by another pair of Bryant errors. The first allowed Conrade to reach. She advanced on a wild pitch and scored on a double by Tara Boyd. Jordan Reed singled in a run and, after Bakalekos reached on an error, Cherie Barfield doubled to make it 6-5. With runners at second and third, the Lady Hornets made some plays to get out of the inning with a lead. With one out, Bakalekos was thrown out trying to score on a grounder to second then Barfield was gunned down at the plate on a bouncer to third.
In the bottom of the inning, Turpin walked and Bruick singled with one out but both were stranded. The inning ended when Kirchner's liner to right was caught.
Cabot revved up the offense again in the fifth. Conrade led off with a walk and Kirchner came on in relief of Jenkins. She was greeted, however, by a single by Boyd that scored Conrade, who had advanced on a passed ball, tying the game. Reed sacrificed Boyd to second, Bakalekos singled her to third then a grounder to second by Barfield brought her home with the go-ahead run.
The Lady Hornets were retired in order in the bottom of the fifth. But, after Kirchner pitched around a single and a walk in the sixth, Cassidy Wilson, in her first game back after recovering from a broken hand, cracked a double with one out in the home half to give Bryant hope. With two down, Bruick drew a walk but both were stranded as Barfield got Sory to fly out to center.
Kirchner set down the Lady Panthers in order in the seventh and the Lady Hornets made a bid to tie it in the bottom of the inning. Kircher walked and stole second to get things started. An out later, Taylor singled her to third but Hart struck out and Kirchner was picked off third by the Cabot catcher to end the game.
BRYANT, Ark. — Junior center fielder Garrett Bock played as long as he could despite a painful hip that doctors had told him wouldn't get any worse if he played, as long as he could stand the pain. A chronic problem over the years, the hip will need surgery whenever it can be scheduled.
Bock played his last game of the season on Saturday, April 18, at Sheridan.
On Monday, the starting designated hitter was a sophomore, Chris Joiner, who had earned the chance with his play during junior varsity games this season. Joiner went 1-for-3 in his varsity debut against Watson Chapel, a non-conference foe. His second start came on Tuesday in a league game against Cabot. Hopes for at least a share of the 7A-Central Conference championship were hanging in the balance for both teams. Bryant came in 8-4 in league play, atop the standings thanks to Cabot's 7-2 win over North Little Rock on Monday. The Panthers were only a game behind Bryant, North Little Rock (7-4) and Conway (7-4) in the loss column and, after knocking off the Charging Wildcats, had designs on pulling even with Bryant with a win.
And, going into the bottom of the sixth inning, the Panthers held a 5-3 lead.
Bryant, of course, has proven this season its never out of a game and this was no exception. In the home sixth, Brennan Bullock, who has shown a knack for starting comebacks, slapped a 3-2 pitch from Cabot starter Andrew Reynolds into right field for a base hit to get things started. An out later, Brady Butler looped a liner to right for a base hit.
Reynolds got the second out, retiring hot-hitting Caleb Garrett on a pop to third. And that brought up Joiner in a key spot. If he could get on, the middle of the Hornets lineup, Hunter Mayall, Kaleb Jobe and Tyler Sawyer — all hitting over .400 this season — would be coming up with ducks on the pond.
Reynolds got a couple of strikes in on Joiner who also took a couple of pitches off the plate. On a 2-2 delivery, Joiner just barely got a piece to stay alive. Ball three followed then he coolly took ball four.
That proved to be the key at-bat in Bryant's come-from-behind 6-5 win which kept them in first place and a win away from at least a share of the league title and a first-round bye in the Class 7A State Tournament (whether seeded first or second). That one win will have to come in the conference finale at North Little Rock, a team Bryant lost to 11-4 earlier in the season. A loss and they could finish as low as third and miss out on the first round bye.[more]
At 9-4, the Hornets lead North Little Rock and Conway by half a game after both won Tuesday. Conway beat Van Buren 10-2 and North Little Rock edged Little Rock Central 4-3. In the other league game, Little Rock Catholic beat Russellville 8-5. In the other games on Thursday, Conway will host Russellville, Catholic (7-5) will visit Central (5-8), and Van Buren (5-6) will be at Cabot (6-6). North Little Rock has a make-up game left at home against Van Buren on Friday and Cabot, which may be fighting to get into the State Tournament at that point, plays at Conway on Tuesday, April 28. The final standings and seedings may not be settled until after that last contest.
On Tuesday, Joiner's walk loaded the bases for Mayall, who already had three hits in the game.
Perhaps unnerved a bit by the situation, Reynolds balked. Bullock trotted home, cutting the lead to 5-4. A pitch later, Reynolds' delivery got past catcher Ben Wainwright and Evan Jobe, running for Butler, sprinted home with the tying run as Joiner moved up to third with the lead run.
On a 1-1 pitch, Mayall slapped a hard grounder down the third-base line that Cabot's Ty Steele somehow gloved. It was the third splendid play of the night by Steele who had saved two runs in the second and another in the third with his gems. This time, however, Steele's great grab left him in a tough position to throw. His sling to first was wild as Mayall raced past first and headed to second then third while Joiner scored to give the Hornets the lead.
In the top of the seventh, Ben Wells, who relieved starter Kaleb Jobe in the top of the sixth pitching out of a two-on, one-out jam, struck out Matthew Turner. He then got Reynolds to bounce wide of first where Butler roamed to smother the ball. Butler tossed to Wells covering first just in time for the out.
The junior right-hander then closed it out with another strikeout.
It was a great way to celebrate Senior Night. Justin Blankenship, Jobe, Austin Queck, Sawyer and Jonathan Wade along with manager Chris Edwards were honored after the game.
"We put ourselves in a position to win," observed Bryant head coach Kirk Bock. "Then we get some breaks and we're able to win. That's good. I guarantee you, you never say die with this team. The kids, the whole time, there was never any doubt in their minds that we were going to win."
Bock agreed that Joiner's plate appearance was huge. "Working him deep, deep, deep in the count and then just getting on," he noted. "That was a game changer right there. It brought up the guy that went 4-for-4. And Hunter Mayall can just flat, dad-gum hit. As long as he picks good pitches, he can just hit."
Mayall now leads the team in hitting at .454.
The gift runs that the Hornets received in the sixth provided a counterpart to the gifts they'd given Cabot earlier in the game. Errors played into two of the Panthers' run-scoring innings. Only two of their runs were earned.
Bryant had taken a 1-0 lead in the home first. Garrett singled to right on the first pitch of the game by Reynolds. Joiner sacrificed him to second and Mayall singled to send him to third, taking second as the throw from the outfield sailed all the way home. Moments later, a wild pitch allowed Garrett to score before Reynolds retired Jobe and Sawyer to strand Mayall at third.
Cabot tied it in the top of the second. Wainwright doubled. Matthew Turner then shot one to the right side that Bryant's Tyler Brown flagged down, throwing to first for the out as courtesy runner Zach Uhiren advanced to third. A passed ball allowed Uhiren to score but base hits by Reynolds and Tyler Erickson followed which would've pushed the run home.
Jobe kept it at 1-1 by inducing a grounder to Mayall at third for a force then getting Steele to fly to Blankenship in right.
The Hornets regained the advantage in the bottom of the inning. Bullock was hit by a pitch (for the 11th time this year) then Brown singled up the middle. With two down, Garrett came through in the clutch with a single to center, plating Bullock. With runners at second and third, Joiner pulled a hard grounder to the left side and Steele robbed him of a hit and the Hornets of two runs, getting the final out of the inning with his throw to first.
The Panthers took the lead in the top of the third. Joe Bryant beat out an infield hit but he was forced at second on his brother Powell Bryant's bouncer to third. Drew Burks singled up the middle and, with Wainwright at the plate, Jobe committed a balk to move the runners up the second and third for Wainwright. A fly to left center appeared to be deep enough for Powell Bryant to score. But the ball was ruled to have popped out of Garrett's glove in center allowing the run to score and Wainwright to reach base.
An out later, Reynolds looped a single to right. Burke scored and Uhiren followed him to the plate where Blankenship's throw from right got a way from catcher B.J. Ellis.
Jobe kept it at that, however, by getting the next batter to fly to Blankenship in right to end the inning.
The Hornets whittled a run off the lead when Mayall singled, Jobe sacrificed him to second, and Sawyer drove him home with a base hit to center.
The two hurlers settled in after that and it stayed 4-3 until the top of the sixth. Mayall robbed Erickson of a hit with a leaping catch of his line drive to start the inning. But consecutive singles by Cole Nicholson and Steele put Jobe in a jam and Bock called on Wells.
On the second pitch from the Bryant reliever Joe Bryant hit a hard grounder toward third that stayed down and got past Mayall allowing Nicholson to score. But Wells got Powell Brown to fly to Bullock in center and, after an intentional walk to Burks to load the bases and set up a force at every station, he struck out Wainwright to end the inning.
But, instead of a one-run deficit to overcome, the Hornets came to the plate two down with six outs to go. They wouldn't need all six.
Incidentally, Jobe whacked a one-out single in the fifth which extended his hitting streak to 14 games.
LITTLE ROCK — "I remember why I disliked Monday ballgames so much," declared Bryant Lady Hornets head soccer coach Doug Maxwell. "We came out flat, just really kind of dragging and disorganized. It looked like we hadn't played in a while."
Both the Lady Hornets and the Hornets took it on the chin Monday at Little Rock Central, both by 5-1 counts. Central comes to Bryant tonight for Senior Night before the regular season wraps up on Thursday at Cabot.
"We held out pretty good for the first 30 minutes," Hornets coach Jason Hay mentioned of the boys game.
But the Tigers got two quick goals at that point and added another in the final minute to take a 3-0 lead at the half.
"We got on the board in the middle of the second half on a cross by Forrest Fowler and goal by Petey Alverio," Hay related.
Central added two goals to finish out the win, however.[more]
The girls game was scoreless through the first 15 minutes but the Lady Tigers also came up with three goals before the end of the half. Early in the second half, the Lady Hornets got on the board on a goal by Maggie Hart.
"It was a great shot from the left side, about 25 yards out," Maxwell recounted. "Hit far post then slipped in over the top of the keeper's head."But the Lady Tigers finished up with two more goals to set the final score.
"Periods of brilliance when we were moving the ball like we're capable of moving it but, for the most part, just dragging and lagging from the weekend," Maxwell related. "We get a second chance at them, though. And the kids aren't down about it or anything. We tried to use it as a teaching moment for them. 'This is what we can't do.' Hopefully, we can rebound from it and have much better showing on Senior Night."
The Lady Hornets dropped to 11-7 overall and 5-7 in 7A-Central Conference play. The boys fell to 7-13 and 1-11.