Wednesday, April 01, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot second in ‘67’ tourney

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot softball team won its first three games of the annual Beebe/Cabot Highway 67 Softball Tournament on Saturday, but fell hard to Benton in the championship game at Beebe High School, losing 12-1 in six innings.

Cabot (9-2) beat Benton (9-1) earlier in the season, but Saturday night’s tournament final was a much different game. Cabot scored the game’s first run in the bottom of the first inning, but Benton took over the game in the top of the sixth with six runs scored – all of which came with two outs.

Cabot was never able to recover. Benton added six more runs to its side of the board in the top of the sixth, and when Cabot failed to score in the bottom part of the inning, the game was called because of the mercy rule, which is invoked when one team’s lead reaches at least 10 runs after five innings of play.

Even though it wasn’t the ending Cabot and head coach Chris Cope were hoping for, Cope said it was a good day, overall, for his group.

“We went 3-1 and we beat some good teams,” said Cope. “We didn’t want it to end that way, but it happens.”

The Lady Panthers opened the tournament with a dominant 15-0 win over Harrisburg at the CHS softball field, and in the second round, Cabot got another mercy-rule victory at home, this one a 12-2 rout of Perryville.

Cabot had to go to extra innings in its semifinal game against perennial powerhouse Bryant, but won that home game in the eighth inning on a run scored by second baseman Rachel Allgood, which set the final score at 4-3.

In the championship game against Benton at Beebe, Cabot got on the board in the top of the first with a two-out, solo home run by Megan Goodnight. Pitcher Lauren McCluskey kept the Benton bats at bay through the first four and two-third innings, but Benton’s bats came alive in a big way after that.

Hannah Word got the two-out rally started with a double down the left-field line, and she scored the next at-bat on a single to center field by leadoff hitter Jordan Herbner.

That tied the game at 1-1, and Benton took the lead for good the next at-bat on a stand-up double to deep right center by Delaney Bono, which allowed the speedy Herbner to score with ease.

Bre Langford singled to center the next at-bat, scoring Bono, and giving Benton a 3-1 lead. Clean-up hitter Kylee McClendon then came to the plate, and she reached base on a dropped line drive in right field. Langford scored on the play, putting Benton up 4-1.

The next at-bat, Kylea Brimhall doubled to left field, which drove in McClendon, and the rally was capped the next at-bat with a Madi Mehlin line drive in left field that was dropped, allowing Brimhall to score and make it a 6-1 game.

Cabot failed to score in the bottom of the fifth, and Benton scored six more runs in the top of the sixth to set the final score. The highlight of the sixth inning was a two-out, three-run home run by Mehlin, which made the score 12-1.

Benton outhit Cabot 13-4 Saturday. Brimhall led all batters with three hits. She also earned the win in the circle – finishing the six innings pitched with six strikeouts. She gave up four hits, two walks and one earned run.

Shauna Attendorn led Cabot at the plate. She went 2 for 2 with two singles.

In the Lady Panthers’ win over Harrisburg, they scored five runs in the first inning, four in the second and six in the third to set the final score. Shortstop Heather Hill led Cabot at the plate in that game. She went 3 for 3 with three singles.

Four other Lady Panthers had multiple hits in that game. Goodnight, Allgood, Kaitlyn Felder and Macee Abbott had two hits apiece.

Goodnight earned the win in the circle against Harrisburg. She threw all three innings of the mercy rule-shortened game, finishing with four strikeouts, while giving up just one hit and no walks.

In the second round against Perryville, Cabot broke a scoreless game with nine runs scored in the bottom of the second inning to take control of the game. The Lady Panthers added three more runs in the third inning before allowing one run in the fourth and fifth inning, which set the final score at 12-2.

Cabot outhit Perryville 13-6, with Hill leading all batters at the plate. She went 3 for 3 in that game and was a triple shy of the cycle. Goodnight got the win in the circle in that game as well. She threw all five innings, finishing with five strikeouts.

Against Bryant in the semifinal round, Cabot overcame a 3-0 deficit with three runs scored in the fifth inning, which tied the game at 3-3 and eventually sent it to extra innings.

McCluskey, Goodnight and Felder led the Lady Panthers at the plate against the Lady Hornets. Each of them had two hits. McCluskey pitched the latter part of that game and earned the win in the circle as a result.

Cabot played its first pair of 7A/6A-East Conference games in a doubleheader at Searcy last night after deadlines, and the Lady Panthers will play another conference doubleheader Friday at home against Marion. The first game Friday is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m.