Friday, May 01, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Badgers sweep for Central title

Leader sportswriter

The Beebe softball team put itself in the driver’s seat for the 5A-Central Conference championship by getting a doubleheader sweep over Sylvan Hills on Thursday at Beebe High School.

Beebe mercy-ruled the Lady Bears in game one of the twin bill – winning 10-0 in six innings. Sylvan Hills gave the Lady Badgers a much tougher game in the nightcap, but Beebe scored three runs in the sixth inning of game two to win 3-0.

Both teams entered Thursday’s 5A-Central doubleheader unbeaten in conference play, and with only two conference games left this season, both of which are winnable games for each team, the Lady Badgers likely sealed the conference championship in their first year in the Central.

“We’ve got to win two over at North Pulaski and I think they (Sylvan Hills) beat North Pulaski pretty good,” said Beebe coach Eric Chambers. “It is what it is, our conference. They put us in there, so I said let’s just go 14-0 and win the darn thing.

“In the first game, that’s kind of what I expected. We had trouble hitting the ball in the second game. The strike zone got a little big on us. It was big on both sides, and we didn’t hit it solid until that one inning.

“We’ve lost games like that, because we didn’t have enough offense. We’d lose 1-0 or 2-1 when we’d make mistakes. But we didn’t really make a lot of mistakes in the second game.”

Beebe had just one error in game two, while Sylvan Hills had three. The second game was scoreless through the first five innings of play. Beebe, though, ended that scoreless streak by scoring all three of its runs in the top of the sixth.

Nikita Howell walked to lead off the sixth inning, and she advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt laid down by catcher Haley Dinapoli. Sydney Smith then came to the plate, and drove Howell in with a RBI single to right field.

Smith went all the way to third base on the hit, because of a throwing error. She scored Beebe’s second run of the game the next at-bat on a 4-3 groundout by Baylee Halford.

Calah Hill followed Halford’s at-bat with a two-out single up the middle. Hill scored the next at-bat on a Courtney Shepard double to left field. Shepard’s RBI double set the final score of game two.

Beebe outhit Sylvan Hills 7-5 in game two. Aleighu Porterfield led the Lady Badgers with two hits in that game, while teammates Hill, Shepard, Megan Davlin, Howell and Smith had one hit apiece.

Callie Cavender led the Lady Bears at the plate in game two, going 2 for 3, and teammates Cara Pozza, Maddison Shelton and Taylor Yeoman each had one hit.

Ellie Reaves earned the win in the circle in both games. She recorded eight strikeouts in game two and six strikeouts in game one.

In game one, Beebe scored three of its 10 runs scored in the second inning to take an early 3-0 lead. The Lady Badgers added four more to their side of the board in the fourth inning, two more in the fifth and one more in the sixth to set the final score. That game ended after six innings because of the sportsmanship rule.

Howell led all batters in game one with three hits – a home run and two doubles.

Despite coming out on the losing end in both games, Sylvan Hills coach Mark Anderson was pleased to see his team respond with a more competitive effort in game two after being mercy-ruled in game one.

“In the first game, we made way too many errors, way too many mistakes,” said Anderson. “Against a good team like that, you just can’t make many mistakes and stay in it, especially with the pitcher they have.

“In that second game, it made me feel better, because it showed me we’re going to keep fighting. If you get run-ruled you can always turn around and get run-ruled again, and that didn’t happen. I feel pretty good about us. We just have to come out and make the routine plays and not make a bunch of mistakes.”

Both teams end their conference schedule Tuesday. Beebe (20-3, 12-0) will play at North Pulaski and Sylvan Hills (14-11, 10-2) will play Pulaski Academy at home on senior night. Both games will be doubleheaders and the first pitch of those doubleheaders is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m.