Friday, April 24, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot beats North Little Rock twice

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot softball team earned a pair of 7A-East Conference victories over North Little Rock this week. On Tuesday, the Lady Panthers beat the Lady Charging Wildcats 6-1 at Burns Park, and on Thursday, Cabot eked out a 6-5 victory at home, thanks to a strong third inning.

In Thursday’s game at the CHS field, it was scoreless after two innings of play, but the Lady Panthers scored all six of their runs in the bottom of the third to take a 6-0 lead.

Macee Abbott walked to lead off the bottom of the third, and shortstop Heather Hill got the first hit of the game the next at-bat – a single up the middle of the diamond. Lauren McCluskey got a bunt single the following at-bat, which loaded the bases for three-hole hitter Megan Goodnight.

With a 2-1 count, Goodnight sent the fourth pitch of the at-bat over the fence in right center. Goodnight’s grand slam gave Cabot a 4-0 lead, and the Lady Panthers’ next two runs came on another homer.

Erin Eckert walked two batters later, and second baseman Rachel Allgood hit a two-run bomb to straightaway center field the next at-bat, capping the Lady Panthers’ six-run inning.

North Little Rock, though, didn’t go away easy. The Lady Cats (10-6, 7-3) scored their first two runs in the top of the fourth, and added two more to their side of the board in the sixth on a two-out single to right field by Bailey Harris.

Harris’ clutch hit made it a 6-4 game, and NLR scored another run on three hits in the top of the seventh, but were unable to do any more damage, and as a result, Cabot earned the hard-fought 6-5 win.

Goodnight earned the win in the circle Thursday. She threw the first five innings before being relieved by Kaitlyn Felder, who earned the win Tuesday, in the top of the sixth. Goodnight gave up just three hits and one earned run Thursday, and no walks. She also recorded two strikeouts.

The Lady Cats outhit Cabot 8-7, but gave up eight walks, while Cabot walked just two NLR batters. Hill led the Lady Panthers with two hits Thursday. McKenzie Escovedo and Reagan Sperling led NLR with two hits each.

In Tuesday’s game at Burns Park, Cabot and NLR each scored a run in the first inning, but the Lady Panthers added two more runs in the second, one in the fourth, and two more on a two-run home run by Allgood in the top of the seventh to get the 6-1 win.

The Lady Cats outhit Cabot in that game as well, 7-6. Sperling led all batters with three hits Tuesday. Cassidy Tucker had two hits for NLR Tuesday.

Hill was the only Lady Panther with multiple hits Tuesday. She had two – a double and a home run.

Felder pitched all seven innings in the winning effort. She gave up the one run and recorded three strikeouts.

“Two good games, two good wins against a quality opponent,” said Cabot coach Chris Cope on Thursday. “This is what we’ve been waiting on all year. We knew it was going to be a tough game, and we hope we’ll see them again at some point.”

The Lady Panthers’ playoff seeding will be based on how they do against the 7A teams within their conference. Tuesday’s and Thursday’s games were the first 7A-East games the Cabot girls have played this year, so winning those games were significant for Cabot’s chances to earn a No. 1 seed.

“A little edge is off now,” Cope said. “This is what we’ve been preparing for. I can take a deep breath, but we go again next week, too.”

With this week’s wins, the Lady Panthers improved their record to 20-3 overall, 9-1 in conference play, and 2-0 in 7A-East play, which is what matters.

The Cabot girls play a nonconference game at Sheridan on Monday before resuming 7A-East Conference play Wednesday at home against Little Rock Central.

Both games Monday and Wednesday begin at 5 p.m.