Friday, May 11, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Badgers pound Chapel

Leader sportswriter

It took a very young and inexperienced Beebe team a few innings to settle into the spotlight of the class 5A state softball tournament, but once the Lady Badgers got comfortable they piled on the runs and pummeled Watson Chapel 9-1 Thursday at Wynne to advance to the second round of the tournament.

Beebe has been nothing short of stellar in the field this season, in large part due to the consistency of freshman ace Ellie Reaves as it has become the norm for her to pitch either one-run or shutout games.

What has plagued Beebe in its losses this season has been the Lady Badgers lack of production at the plate. Beebe succeeded in getting on base early against the Lady Wildcats, but the Lady Badgers’ scoring troubles continued in the first three innings.

Watson Chapel (22-11, 10-4) was able to score its lone run of the game in the fourth to tie the score, but in the bottom part of the inning Beebe (22-7, 11-3) found its rhythm and started doing serious work at the plate, scoring four runs in the inning to take a 5-1 lead.

“I thought at first we were a little nervous,” said Beebe coach Eric Chambers about the Lady Badgers’ slow start. “We left some runners on base that we should’ve scored, but towards the end we settled down and put some runs on the board and played a little defense.

“They (Watson Chapel) had a couple of hits and scored that run like you’re supposed to. But for having seven freshmen and one sophomore out there with just two seniors on the team, I thought they (Beebe) did pretty well for their first state tournament game for most of them.”

The Lady Badgers’ defense stayed strong as the game progressed, while the offense continued to score runs. Some of Beebe’s runs were a result of Watson Chapel’s mistakes in the field, as the Lady Wildcats committed three errors in the game.

With two on in the fifth, Beebe’s Courtney Shepard hit a tricky grounder to second that was slightly mishandled, and Shepard’s speed caused the throw to first to be rushed and it was overthrown.

The errant throw allowed Megan Davlin and Sarah White to score, giving Beebe a comfortable 7-1 lead. Beebe scored its final two runs in the sixth. Leadoff hitter Calah Hill started the inning with an infield single.

Two-hole hitter Madelyn Poe followed with her third infield base hit of the day. Poe’s speed caused another throw to be rushed to first, and the ball sailed over the first baseman’s head as a result, allowing Hill to score all the way from first. Poe advanced to third on the error.

“Definitely our top three have a lot of speed, and we have a couple at the bottom of the order that have some speed too,” Chambers said. “That’s something we haven’t had a whole lot of here at Beebe, so it is a big difference. In any sport speed kills, so we’re glad to have them.”

Centerfielder Makenzie Bingham drove in the final run of the day with a sac fly to right that allowed Poe to score with ease. Reaves picked up the win on the mound with a complete game performance.

Hill and Poe each went 3 for 4 at the plate while Brittany Gentry and White had a hit apiece.