Monday, May 07, 2007

SPORTS >>Beebe favored in first round

IN SHORT: The Lady Badgers won the 5A-East Conference outright, now they hope to repeat that success with a sweep of the state tournament.

Leader sportswriter

Yesterday’s first round 5A state playoff game between the Beebe Lady Badgers and the Camden-Fairview Lady Cardinals was a bit of a mismatch, with two different teams on two completely different agendas.

The Lady Badgers have been to the finals and semifinals the past two years respectively, and are going after the state title they feel is rightfully theirs. They also wrapped up their third-consecutive conference title this season to earn the No. 1 seed out of the 5A-East Conference.

The Lady Cardinals are the No. 4 seed out of the 5A-Southwest Conference. They finished up with records of 13-14 overall and 6-8 in conference. Lady Cardinals coach Crissy Klober says that while their opponents are fighting to complete a dynasty, her squad is simply trying to earn respect in their first-ever playoff appearance.

“Our team has a different motivation,” Klober said. “Nobody thinks we deserve to be here. That’s our motivation, to prove to people that we are worthy of being in this position.” Klober says that her team has the ability to compete with anyone on any given day, but she also understands the potency of their first-round opponent.

“I have family in the Beebe area, and I know how rich their tradition is when it comes to softball,” Klober said. “They are elite competition. All I can do is prepare the girls and let them know what a great squad we are going to face. It’s a newseason; the records are wiped clean, so we are just going to go out there and play the very best we can.”

Beebe coach Terry Flenor says this is the moment his team has been waiting for, but not the be-all-end-all of what determines their success as a team.

“This is a team that went 40-2 in conference the past three years,” Flenor said. “That achievement, I believe, is bigger than any state championship at the end of the day. The state title measures how good you were for that one weekend, not over a long period of time. You have to be good to get there, but there are so many variables that you can’t control. Someone gets sick or gets injured, the weather, or you can get stuck with a bad umpire. All these things can take you out just like that, and my speech to them before they take the field will be about how proud we are of their efforts over the past three seasons.”
A win over Camden yesterday would put the Lady Badgers in a game today at noon with the winner of yesterday’s game between Alma and Monticello.

Other first-round games included Malvern against Greene County Tech, and Crossett vs. Greenwood in the top half of the bracket.

Southeast champion White Hall faced Siloam Springs, Hope took on East No. 3 seed and defending state champion Nettleton. Nettleton won the state title with the same seed a year ago. West winner Vilonia took on Pulaski Robinson and Wynne faced Hot Springs Lakeside.

The tournament semifinals will be Monday beginning at 4 p.m. to set up the championship game at the University of Arkansas’ Lady Back Yard in Fayetteville on May 11.