Wednesday, March 08, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Bears win softball tourney in Sherwood

Leader sports editor

The Lady Bear softball team had a rocky start to the season, but bounced back for four-straight victories to win the Taylor Roark Memorial it hosted over the weekend.

The Lady Bears lost their first two games to Morrilton and Cabot on Monday and Thursday of last week. But that began to turn around with a 24-0 victory over Forrest City on Friday in the first round of pool play in the tournament.

The Lady Mustangs only committed one error, but 16 base hits combined with nine walks led to the one-sided final score.

“We didn’t start very well, but we got a little confidence against Forrest City,” said Sylvan Hills coach Mark Anderson. “Forrest City isn’t very good, but the big thing is you could tell we gained some confidence. We just sort of took off from there and played really well the rest of the tournament.”

Mackenzie Rodgers, Storm Ellis and Destiny Sanders each had two hits and three RBIs. Lynlee Broadway threw all three innings of the mercy rule win, giving up no hits or walks while striking out six of the nine batters she faced.

Sanders, a freshman pitcher, took the mound against Searcy and threw a five-inning no-hitter in the timed game that ended 3-0. She also fanned six while walking one Lady Lion.

Sylvan Hills’ leadoff hitter Cara Pozza, and nine-hole hitter Tristen Goodson, had two hits apiece while Joy Franco went 1 for 2 and drove in a run.

In the semifinals, the Lady Bears and the Heber Springs Panthers each got seven base hits, but Sylvan Hills pulled out the 3-1 victory despite committing three errors.

The Lady Bears got all the runs they needed in the bottom of the first inning. Pozza drew a leadoff walk and Rodgers doubled to center field. Ellis flew out to right, deep enough to score Pozza from third base. Franco then grounded to second to score Rodgers and give her team a 2-0 lead.

Broadway hit a leadoff single in the bottom of the second and was replaced on the base paths by courtesy runner Maddie Hogue. Two batters later, Hogue scored on a single by Brittanie Stricklin for a 3-0 lead.

Heber Springs got two runners in scoring position on a double and an error in the top of the third, but Pozza picked off the base runner at third to end the inning.

The Lady Panthers got its lone run in the top of the fourth on a single, a double, a walk and a bases-loaded error with two outs.

Broadway got the win with 4 2/3s innings of work, while Sanders got the save.

The Lady Bears then beat Maumelle 5-1 for the tournament championship.

Sanders threw all seven innings of that game, giving up five hits and no earned runs while striking out seven and walking zero.

Maumelle opened the scoring with a single run in the top of the first. R. Pierce hit a leadoff single and moved to second on a sacrifice. After a strikeout, Pierce moved to third base on a wild pitch by Sanders, and then scored on a dropped third strike passed ball.

Sylvan Hills wasn’t behind for long. Rodgers and Ellis hit back-to-back one-out singles in the bottom of the first and moved up a base each on a wild pitch. Sanders then singled to center field to score both runners and give SH the lead for good.

Sanders drove in Ellis again in the third inning. Franco singled to score Rogers in the fifth, and Sanders got her fourth RBI on the next at-bat to set the final margin.

Sylvan Hills got back to action in the Rivalry Classic at UCA against North Little Rock. They were up 6-2 before a disastrous inning led to a 12-6 loss on Monday.

“We hit the ball pretty well, we just didn’t play any defense,” Anderson said of the loss. “We threw both pitchers, but it didn’t matter who I put up there. We didn’t play any defense behind them. It was on that turf and it got wet. They just adjusted to it better than we did. We never got used to it.”