Tuesday, April 17, 2012

SPORTS >> Tourney title goes to Beebe

Leader sportswriter

After handling Trumann 7-0 and squeaking by Jonesboro Westside 1-0 in the semi-finals of the Beebe/Searcy Softball Invitational Saturday at Beebe High School, the Lady Badgers edged 5A East foe Nettleton 1-0 in the championship game with another shutout performance from standout freshman pitcher Ellie Reaves.

Reaves threw three complete games for the Lady Badgers, and showed nothing but consistency and resiliency as she didn’t allow a single walk or run all day.

“She said she was a little tired there at the end,” said Beebe coach Eric Chambers about Reaves after the championship game. “She did real well today. She stayed focused, and she didn’t bat today for us so I think that might have helped her a little bit. But she’s just a freshman, and she’s going to be pitching for someone at the DI level.”

Beebe scored the game’s only run in the bottom of the first. Calah Hill normally bats in the leadoff spot for the Lady Badgers, but was out for the remainder of the tournament after being hit in the arm during her first at bat against Westside.

Madelyn Poe, Beebe’s two-hole hitter, moved into the leadoff spot for the title game and started things off with an infield single.

Makenzie Bingham followed with a sacrifice bunt to advance Poe to second.

Brittany Gentry then grounded out to short, but picked up the game-winning RBI as Poe scored on a close play at the plate after rounding third and sliding home to give the Lady Badgers the 1-0 lead.

Reaves kept Nettleton at bay for the remainder of the game, allowing just four hits.

Beebe’s defense was stellar as well, but the Lady Badgers had as hard a time as the Lady Raiders did connecting at the plate, something Chambers would like to see improve before postseason tournament play begins.

“We’re not really stroking the ball very well,” Chambers said. “We’re not hitting it like we should be, and I think they’re just a little young and indecisive. Other teams come in here against Ellie, and they swing the bat, because they know she’s going to pitch it at them, and they come in swinging. We need to get that way also, but we’re young and we’re getting better.”

Poe, Sarah White, Lannie Reaves and Courtney Shepard all singled for the Lady Badgers. In the semi-final game against Westside, Beebe had the same formula for success, scoring a run early and allowing Reaves to take control of the game while providing defense when needed.

Bingham had a huge impact in helping the Lady Badgers advance to the title game as she scored the game’s only run and prevented Westside from scoring late.

After singling to start the bottom of the second, Lannie Reaves put down the sacrifice bunt to move Bingham to second. Shepard grounded out, but that allowed Bingham to advance to third. Bingham then scored on a passed ball at home plate to give the Lady Badgers the lead.

Beebe’s only scare came in the fifth when Westside’s Sharon Bishop hit a triple to start the inning. Tosha Geror followed with a long fly ball to center. Bingham caught the fly ball, and hurled it home as Bishop tagged from third.

Gentry caught the ball inside the left batter’s box, and dove at the plate to tag out Bishop just as she was sliding in.

“I thought they really played well,” Chambers said about the team’s overall performance in the tournament. “I thought we pitched well the whole day, and we beat a really good Westside team that beat Benton earlier.

“Those two teams were probably picked to win the whole thing, and for us to play as well as we did, I was proud of them, and they did a good job.”

The Lady Badgers (17-6, 6-2) will see the Lady Raiders (12-5, 4-2) again tomorrow, as they’ll travel to Nettleton for a doubleheader starting at 5:00 p.m.