Wednesday, May 08, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Bears sweep Jacksonville again

Leader sportswriter

For the second time this season, Sylvan Hills got a doubleheader sweep over Jacksonville, winning the first game 8-2 and the second game 7-3 on Monday at the Sherwood Sports Complex.

Monday’s doubleheader was considered a nonconference game since the two respective teams already played each other in a 5A Central Conference doubleheader earlier in the season.

The Lady Bears (22-5 overall) won the conference with a perfect 12-0 record, and the Lady Red Devils (15-11, 10-2) finished second with their only losses in conference play coming to Sylvan Hills.

Considering the 5A Central is very top heavy as far as competition goes, both teams looked at Monday’s games as a chance to get ready for the class 5A state tournament, which begins tomorrow at Hope.

“Right now our focus is lacking,” said Lady Bears coach Justine Gladden. “We’ve got to get mentally prepared, because we’re coming out here and going through the motions, walking around like we’ve actually earned something and we haven’t.

“Our conference is so weak. I mean, yeah we’re conference champs. That sounds good, but when we play some competition we lose some. That proves right there that we’re not ready. We’ve got to be more mentally prepared and that’s something you really can’t teach. The hardest part on our end is trying to get them to understand that they think they’re ready, but we’re not ready.”

Neither team scored in the first game until the fourth inning when Jacksonville second baseman Bailea Mitchell hit a two-run inside the park home run to deep right field. Mitchell’s line drive landed just under right fielder Taylor Yoeman’s glove. Yoeman dove for the catch and as the ball rolled to the fence, Mitchell and another run scored to put the Lady Devils up 2-0.

Lady Bears’ center fielder Jordie Flippo scored the first run for Sylvan Hills in the bottom part of the inning after leading off with a double to left center-field. Callie Cavender tied the game at 2-2 in the fifth inning.

Cavender started the inning with a single off Jacksonville pitcher Kym House’s leg, and scored two-batters later on a ground ball to second base by Jenna Hoogeveen. Sylvan Hills all but put game one away in the sixth inning with six runs, the highlight of which was a ground-rule double by Hoogeveen, which scored two runs.

Hoogeveen scored the Lady Bears’ eighth and final run of the game on a passed ball at the plate. Tyra Williams was the winning pitcher for Sylvan Hills. She threw all seven innings, gave up two runs on four hits and recorded four strikeouts.

“We just had a bad day,” said Lady Red Devils coach Barry Hickingbotham. “We didn’t communicate well. When you have a young bunch you’ve got to be able to fight through those things. We talked about that after the game. You take away that one inning and we played pretty good.”

Game two was limited to 90 minutes and ended after four innings. Jacksonville totaled just two hits in the second game, and both came by the bat of freshman Kinely Burrows. Burrows drove in the first run of the game with a two-out single to right field in the second inning.

Zylah Richardson scored on the play. Richardson was the courtesy runner for House, who walked to start the inning. Sylvan Hills responded its next at bat with seven runs, the highlight of which was a bases-clearing triple to left field by senior shortstop Jeana Canady.

Michelle Sorensen, Flippo and Williams scored on the play. Sorensen was the winning pitcher in game two. She threw all four innings and recorded nine strikeouts. Six of those strikeouts came against the first nine batters she faced.

Sorensen did have some control problems in the final inning. She walked three-straight Jacksonville batters. The first of which was House, and Richardson, House’s courtesy runner, stole second and third base.

An inaccurate throw to third base during Richardson’s steal allowed her to score Jacksonville’s second run of the game.

Burrows drove in the final run of the game on another single to right field. Emily Lovercheck scored on the play after walking and advancing to second base on a passed ball.

“They’ve got some good pitching and that’s what we’re going to see in the state tournament,” Hickingbotham said of Sylvan Hills. “We’ve been off really as far as the last two weeks. We just haven’t played that many games. We just need to play, and you take away that one inning, I’m proud of the way they competed.

“We saw what we kind of have to go back and review. You kind of take it for granted. We’re just going to have to work on that tomorrow and Wednesday and get ready for Thursday. Our goal was to make the tournament. We’ve played some quality nonconference teams. We were just trying to get them ready for Thursday.”

Sylvan Hills will enter the state tournament tomorrow as the No. 1 seed, and will play either Huntsville or Morrilton. Jacksonville will have a tougher first round as they’ll play either Greenbrier or Alma.