Friday, March 13, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> First-inning rally lifts Panthers over Beebe

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot Lady Panthers’ softball team improved its record to 3-0 this season with a 5-0 win over Beebe on Wednesday at the Cabot High School softball field.

Cabot scored all the runs it would need in the bottom of the first inning, and kept Beebe off the scoreboard with solid pitching from senior Conway transfer Megan Goodnight and timely defensive stops in the field by the Lady Panthers’ position players.

“We played good as a team,” said Cabot coach Chris Cope. “We put the ball in play and made things happen, and we made some plays defensively that helped us tremendously to back up our pitcher.”

Cabot scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning. Leadoff hitter Lauren McCluskey started the inning with a stand-up double down the left-field line, and two-hole hitter Erin Eckert walked the next at-bat.

McCluskey and Eckert stole third and second base with Goodnight at the plate, and Goodnight drove McCluskey in with a 4-3 groundout, which put Cabot up 1-0. Kaitlyn Felder then came to the plate, and drove in the Lady Panthers’ second run with a groundout to first.

Cabot’s next run came in the bottom of the fourth. Bethany Knowles got things started in that inning with a walk. She later advanced to third and scored on a two-out ground ball off the bat of Shauna Attendorn that got by the Beebe second baseman, which gave Cabot a 3-0 cushion.

The final score was set the next inning. Rachel Allgood led off the bottom of the fifth with a double to right field, and she advanced to third the next at-bat on a 6-3 groundout by McCluskey.

Eckert then drove Allgood home with a 4-3 groundout, and Goodnight singled the next at-bat. That brought Felder back to the plate, and she drove in Goodnight with a two-out triple to center field, which made it a 5-0 ballgame.

Beebe had its chances to score Wednesday, especially in the early going. The Lady Badgers’ most promising opportunity came in the top of the second. In that inning, they had the bases loaded with two outs, but Felder, Cabot’s catcher, got the host team out of the jam by gunning down a Beebe baserunner at third after a Goodnight pitch.

For the game, Beebe left a total of eight runners stranded on base. Cabot left just two.

“This is the second time we’ve been outside in four weeks,” said Beebe coach Eric Chambers. “We’re a little rusty and it was just some of the little things. We got picked off at third on a big play when we had the bases loaded, little things that shouldn’t happen with a veteran team. But when you haven’t been playing, you know, they just kind of forget the little things, I guess.

“They shouldn’t forget, and that’s what we had a little discussion about afterwards. The little things are what got us beat today. It wasn’t them (Cabot) scoring a whole bunch of runs. We made a couple of errors and we gave them a couple of runs, but I think we’ll be alright. We just need some time out on the dirt.”

Goodnight earned the win. She finished the game with three strikeouts, and she gave up just two hits and three walks in the seven innings played.

Calah Hill and Megan Davlin each singled for Beebe’s two hits, and Cabot’s McCluskey, Goodnight, Felder and Allgood each had a base hit to lead the Lady Panthers’ offense.