Saturday, May 11, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Sylvan Hills girls come back for win

Leader sportswriter

HOPE – Trailing by one run entering the bottom of the sixth inning, Sylvan Hills responded with three unanswered runs to end Morrilton’s season with a 10-8 nail-biting win in the first round of the class 5A state softball tournament on Thursday.

“I can finally breathe,” said Lady Bears coach Justine Gladden after the game. “I was stressed, nervous, because they’re a good hitting team. I went up to them and said ‘What are we going to do? They went up 8-7. What are we going to do now?’ And they all said ‘we’re going to hit.’ I said ‘all right.’”

The Lady Bears (24-6) also took advantage of some costly errors and miscues by Morrilton in the sixth inning. Tyra Williams, who was the winning pitcher, scored the tying run on a passed ball at the plate to knot the score up at 8-8.

Ashley Broadway advanced to third base on the passed ball, and scored shortly after on another passed ball, which gave the Lady Bears a 9-8 lead. Callie Cavender scored the final run of the game after Jeana Canady reached base on an E6. Cavender walked to start the inning, and advanced to second and third base on the previous passed balls that resulted in the tying and go-ahead runs.

Morrilton never threatened in the final inning as Williams retired the side to advance Sylvan Hills to the second round. The game went back and forth, and the wet conditions made things tough early for Lady Bears’ starting pitcher Michelle Sorensen.

Sorensen, a junior, had some control problems in her short time on the mound. The inability to get a solid grip on the ball led to six walks in her one and one third innings of work. Morrilton capitalized in the first inning as two-hole hitter Lauren Priest hit a two-run home run to give the Devil Dogs a quick 2-0 lead.

Williams took over pitching duties in the second inning, but Morrilton was able to push its lead to 3-0 before Sylvan Hills put together a four-run inning its next at bat. Taylor Yoeman drove in the first run for the Lady Bears with a base hit.

Broadway scored after starting the inning with a single to the left-field gap. Yoeman and Cavender scored runs two and three on an RBI-single by leadoff hitter Brittney Hubbird. Jordie Flippo reached on an E5 two-batters later and Hubbird scored on the play to put Sylvan Hills ahead 4-3.

“Tyra came in and threw a heck of a game,” Gladden said. “I just told them that you have to hit. We’ve talked about it all year long. If you don’t hit, you don’t win.”

Canady added another run to the Lady Bears’ side in the third inning with a solo home run to left field. Morrilton cut the deficit to 5-4 in the top of the fourth with an RBI-single to the right-field gap by leadoff hitter Shayla Hawkins.

Broadway and Canady drove in runs six and seven for Sylvan Hills in the fifth inning to push its lead to 7-4, but Morrilton responded its next at bat with four runs to take an 8-7 lead after five and a half innings of play.

Sylvan Hills, the No. 1 seed from the Central, played the No. 3 seed from the East, Paragould, on Friday in the quarterfinal round of the class 5A state tournament after deadlines. Look for details of that game in Wednesday’s edition of The Leader.