Saturday, April 12, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot takes care of Mountain Home

Leader sportswriter

The Lady Panther softball team improved their 7A/6A East record to 5-0 with a doubleheader sweep over Mountain Home on Wednesday at the Cabot Softball Complex. Cabot won the first game 8-4, and dominated the second part of the twin bill en route to an 11-3 victory.

Cabot (7-6, 5-0) scored 10 of the first 11 runs in game two to lead comfortably the whole way, but the first game was much tighter. The Lady Bombers (4-6, 2-4) scored two runs in the first inning off of winning pitcher Lauren McCluskey, who pitched all seven innings, striking out two, and held the host team scoreless in its first at-bat to lead 2-0 after one.

The Lady Panthers, though, retook the lead with three runs in the bottom of the second. Senior right fielder Molly Wood led off the inning with a hard-hit single to the right-field gap and Hannah Montgomery walked two batters later.

Brandyn Vines loaded the bases the next at-bat with a bunt single, and with two outs, leadoff hitter Rachel Allgood walked, which allowed Wood to score and gave Allgood an easy RBI. The next at-bat, two-hole hitter Erin Eckert hit a line-drive single to center field, which sent Montgomery and Vines across home plate and put Cabot on top 3-2.

Mountain Home retook the lead its next at-bat with two runs scored in the top of the third, but the Lady Panthers added three more runs to their side of the board in the fourth to give them all the runs they’d need to get the win.

In that inning, Lane Justus reached base after her ground ball went through the Lady Bomber second baseman’s legs, and she scored the game-tying run the next at-bat on a stand-up triple by Allgood that soared to the fence in right field.

Eckert followed Allgood’s at-bat with a stand-up double, which drove in Allgood and put the Lady Panthers on top 5-4. Three-hole hitter Heather Hill grounded out the next at-bat, but Eckert was able to score during the play, thanks to a bad throw to third base after Hill was thrown out at first.

Eckert’s run put Cabot up 6-4, and the Lady Panthers added two more in the bottom of the sixth to set the final score. Vines and Justus both singled in that inning. Vines later scored from third base on a passed ball at home plate, and Eckert picked up her fourth RBI of the game on a sacrifice fly to deep left field, which allowed Justus to score with ease.

Cabot outhit Mountain Home 8-7 in game one, but the Lady Panthers were also the better team in the field as they committed just one error to the Lady Bombers’ four. Cabot continued its solid defensive play in game two.

“We want to try to stay ahead and that way everybody chases us,” said Cabot coach Chris Cope. “We made some great (defensive) plays. Our infielders made some great plays and kept our pitchers in the game, and that’s the way we’ve got to be, because they’re going to put it in play and we rely on our defense so much.”

Allgood, Eckert and Vines each went 2 for 3 at the plate in game one, while teammates Wood and Justus had one hit apiece.

Hill had the hit of game two, though, as she hammered a grand slam that put the Lady Panthers up 8-1 at the time. Montgomery got the win in the circle in that game. She threw all seven innings.

The Lady Panthers continued conference play yesterday at Jonesboro, and will play a nonconference game at home against Greene County Tech on Monday before resuming 7A/6A East play with a doubleheader at home against Little Rock Central on Tuesday. Both games start at 5 p.m.