Tuesday, May 06, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> NLR girls get their revenge on Cabot

Leader sportswriter

North Little Rock got payback for its loss to Cabot in the 7A/6A-East Conference opener back in March with a dominant 11-1 win over the Lady Panthers on Friday at Burns Park.

The Lady Charging Wildcats scored three runs in the first inning and four in the third and fourth innings to set their run total for the evening. Cabot scored its lone run in the third inning, and got its only hit of the game in that same inning – a single by sophomore shortstop Heather Hill.

Rachel Gregory went the distance in the circle for North Little Rock. She finished the game with three strikeouts while giving up just one base hit and one run. Cabot had little trouble with Gregory in its first meeting with the Lady Cats this season, hitting five home runs off her in that game, three of which came off the bat of freshman Hannah Montgomery.

Cabot coach Chris Cope said the biggest difference in the two games was simple; his team didn’t show up Friday ready to play, and the other team did.

“The bottom line is they came to play and we didn’t,” said Cope. “That’s the bottom line. The better team won today. They came to play and we didn’t.”

Cope gave credit to Gregory’s performance in the circle, as well as to his two freshmen pitchers, Montgomery and Lauren McCluskey, who came in to relieve Montgomery in the bottom of the fourth, but the errors Cabot committed in the field throughout the game were too plentiful.

“She (Gregory) pitched a great game,” Cope said. “They played good defense, we didn’t. We didn’t come to play tonight. Our pitchers I thought did a well job, but we had so many errors. The bottom line is the better team won tonight.”

North Little Rock led 7-1 entering the fourth inning, and Lady Cat leadoff hitter Sydney Parr kept things going for the host team with a solo home run to start the bottom of the fourth, making it an 8-1 game.

Shortstop Ashton Bobbitt walked the next at-bat, and two batters later, cleanup hitter Katy Kinnison hit a bloop single to shallow right field. Kinnison’s hit should’ve easily been caught, but miscommunication between the Cabot position players allowed the ball to drop cleanly.

Morgan Seaton then came to plate for NLR and she reached on an error at second base. That loaded the bases for Lydia Belew, who hit a line-drive single to right field, which allowed Bobbitt and Kinnison to score with ease and make it 10-1 Lady Cats.

Hannah Lovercheck grounded out to Hill at shortstop for the second out of the inning the next at-bat, but center fielder Reagan Sperling hit an infield single to shortstop following Lovercheck’s plate appearance, which drove in Seaton and ended the game because of the 10-run lead after five innings sportsmanship rule.

NLR got eight hits in the game. Parr, Kinnison and Belew had two hits each, while Sperling and catcher McKenzie Escovedo had one hit apiece.

Cabot and NLR entered this week tied for the top spot in the conference with two losses each, and if both teams win out in 7A/6A-East play, the Lady Cats will enter the state tournament as the top seed from the conference since their win was by a bigger margin.

Cabot added a nonconference loss to Benton on Monday, falling 6-1.

The Lady Panthers (14-10, 11-2) ended their conference schedule yesterday at home against Searcy, and will play two nonconference games against Bryant and Lake Hamilton before the state tournament begins May 15.

North Little Rock (15-4, 10-2) played Little Rock Central yesterday at home, and will close its conference schedule Friday with a home game against Jonesboro.