Friday, May 24, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> City leaders turn out for Devils, ladies

Leader sports editor

Celebrations of state titles linger for a while as community supporters organize events to honor their champions, but they can’t last forever. Thursday marked the final and best ceremony honoring Jacksonville’s two 2013 state basketball championship teams, the presentation of rings.

Jacksonville mayor Gary Fletcher and First Arkansas Bank and Trust President Larry Wilson were on hand at Southern Oaks Country Club to once again congratulate the boys and girls basketball teams and remind them that the hard work and dedication that earned them the championships would lead to similar success throughout their lives.

The Jacksonville boys went 26-4 overall and won the 5A Central Conference championship with a 13-1 record. They beat Alma 56-53 in the state championship game at Barton Coliseum on March 8.

The Lady Red Devils capped their campaign on the same day, relegating Paragould to bridesmaid status for the second consecutive year with a dominant 54-43 victory. The Jacksonville girls finished the season 25-4 and were a perfect 14-0 in conference play. They had just three wins compared to four losses two weeks into the season, but finished on a 22-game winning streak and didn’t lose a game after Dec. 8.

After a disappointing showing at the Fort Smith Tournament of Champions, where they Lady Devils went 1-2 and lost to Fort Smith Northside and CAC while shorthanded, the Jacksonville girls turned things around for good. With a 3-4 record, Jacksonville rebounded from that tournament with back-to-back wins over defending state champions Little Rock Parkview and Cabot.

“That really was the turning point in our season,” said Jacksonville coach Katrina Mimms in a recent interview.

“We knew we weren’t full strength for that tournament, but other people didn’t and they kind of started writing us off.”

There was also a surprise presentation for team volunteer Velma Warner. Certain team sponsors had already received autographed commemorative basketballs, and Jacksonville athletic director Jerry Wilson gave one to Warner on Thursday.

“There’s no one in the state of Arkansas who deserves one more than you,” Wilson said to Warner.

Warner has attended every Jacksonville basketball game for the last several years, and provides home-cooked food for a renowned hospitality room at all JHS home basketball games.

SPORTS STORY >> Panther trio makes college baseball plans

Leader sports editor

Three Cabot baseball players made their college plans official on Thursday by signing letters of intent to continue their baseball careers. Left-handed pitcher Ryan Logan signed with the University of Central Arkansas, outfielder Casey Vaughan committed to Crowder College in Neosho, Mo., and right-handed pitcher Dustin “Chipper” Morris will attend Arkansas Baptist College in Little Rock.

The three seniors helped lead a dramatic turnaround from last season, a season in which head coach Jay Fitch suffered his only losing season. This year, Cabot won 20 games and got back to the state tournament.

Fitch said senior leadership had a lot to do with it.

“These three guys and my other three seniors all did a great job of stepping up and assuming leadership roles for this team,” Fitch said. “They adopted that role and were really vocal and active in getting this team to buy into hard work. The first day of practice this year I ran them nearly to death, so much I really thought I might’ve overdone it. But after practice Ryan and Casey came up to me and said, ‘coach, work us even harder.’ That was the attitude they brought from day one and they stuck with it.”

Logan took a visit to UCA and was invited back to play in a Sunday league for prospective players. His play in those games prompted the coaching staff to reserve a spot for him in the roster.

What made the decision even easier is that Logan’s ACT score of 35 meant no baseball money had to be used for Logan’s roster spot.

“Those grades and good scores make a huge difference, especially for those Division I schools like UCA,” Fitch said. “They only have like 12 or 13 scholarships to fill out a 25- to 30-man roster. When it comes down to a few guys who are pretty even, and one of them isn’t going to count against your scholarship limit, that’s a huge advantage.”

UCA is also becoming a force in college baseball. The Bears were ranked in the Top 25 for three weeks this season and notched two wins against SEC teams.

Logan has been a fixture in Cabot’s pitching rotation since his sophomore year and has been the No. 1 pitcher the last two seasons. He became a hitter this year as well. Logan finished with a .340 batting average, including six doubles and 14 RBIs as the No. 2 hitter in the lineup.

“He told me at the beginning of the year that he was going to hit this season,” Fitch said. “I said OK Ryan, we’ll see. And boy did he prove himself. He was outstanding for us this year.”

Logan always felt like he was a capable batter, and excelled so much that he not only got to hit in games he pitched, he became the designated hitter in games he didn’t.

“I never like having somebody hit for me,” Logan said. “Last year in legion ball is where I got to hit and got some confidence there. I knew then I could carry into high-school season.”

On the mound Logan finished with a solid 3.78 earned run average, though he only had a 3-6 record. That was largely due to Cabot’s slow start to the season.

The Panthers lost three games in which Logan allowed three runs or fewer before the bats came alive in midseason. Logan’s performance this season earned him a first-team All-Conference selection.

Vaughan is a three-year starter who hopes to follow in the footsteps of former Cabot, Crowder and University of Arkansas player Sam Bates. He led the Panthers in home runs, triples and stolen bases and finished with a .313 average.

He also won the team’s leadership award, a second-team All-Conference selection and received and invitation to the central Arkansas All-Star game.

Morris was a prospect many programs were taking a long look at after a great junior season on the mound. But he suffered a serious elbow injury during one of his best outings of the young season.

In a one-hit shutout of Springfield-Kickapoo in the Central Arkansas Invitational, Morris suffered an avulsion on his right elbow that sidelined him for almost the entire conference season.

“Of all the times to get an injury, your senior season is the worst, especially if you’re a prospect,” Fitch said. “But he came back for us and picked right up where he left off. He didn’t get to pitch nearly as much as we planned on using him, but when he did he was outstanding.”

Morris takes the bad luck in stride and is thankful for the chance to prove himself at the Little Rock junior college.

“They’ve taken a lot of Cabot players over the years and there’s a few there now,” Morris said. “That’s a plus for me. I just have to go down there and work hard to show that I can still get to the next level.”

Morris finished with a couple of no decisions during the early-season slump. He finished with a 1-1 record and an impressive 1.50 ERA. He will also play in the Central Arkansas All-Star game.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot White defeats Red

Leader sportswriter

Ten unanswered runs after the third inning helped the Cabot Centennial Bank White Junior American Legion team beat the Cabot Junior Centennial Bank Red team 17-7 in six innings of play Thursday at the Cabot baseball complex in the first American Legion game of the year for either team.

The game looked as if it could go in either direction as the two teams were knotted up at 7-7 after three innings of play, but once Adam Hicks took the mound for Cabot White in the top of fourth, Cabot Red (0-1) failed to put a single base runner on the bags, and Cabot White (1-0) took advantage from there.

“We finally started hitting the ball, putting it in play and making things happen,” said Cabot White assistant coach Justin Moore. “Any time you put the ball in play and make the defense work, good things will happen. We kind of got off to a slow start. We threw a lot of balls and walked a lot of guys.

“They didn’t really kill us hitting the ball, but when we finally started throwing strikes the kids kind of settled in a little bit. Adam Hicks came in and shut it down and that’s what we needed. The first two, three innings we gave up runs. Then we finally started getting zeros and building some momentum, and fed off of that.”

Hicks earned the win on the hill after relieving Jonathan Latture, who gave up just three hits in his three innings of work, but Latture walked six batters in that time, which helped Cabot Red score its seven runs. Hicks struck out four batters through three innings, and didn’t give up a single walk or hit.

Cabot White took the lead for good in the bottom of the fourth with a sacrifice fly to right field by Gavin Tillery. Hicks scored on the play after walking to start the inning.

Cabot White added five more runs in the fifth inning to gain a comfortable 13-7 advantage, and put the game away in the sixth with four runs.

Hicks drove in the first two runs of the inning with a one-out single to the left-field gap to put Cabot White up 15-7. A single to left-centerfield the next at bat by Latture, the team’s three-hole hitter, sent leadoff hitter Dylan Bowers across home plate to make it a nine-run game.

Shortly after, Dalten Hurst, who led all batters with three hits, drove in the game-ending run with a single to right field that allowed Hicks to score on the play. After Hicks crossed home plate, the game was called because of the 10-run after five innings sportsmanship rule.

“We are young,” said Cabot Red coach David Smith. “With them being young, a lot of them haven’t played a whole lot, and so you could tell with just some of the little things with the game of baseball they didn’t know. It’s going to come a little slower to them, but hopefully they can pick it up quick.

“The good thing is they came out and they fought. They came out here against an older veteran group and hung with them for three or four innings. They did a great job hitting it off of Latture, and when they brought in Hicks, Hicks shut it down. I was really impressed with them and they showed a lot of heart, but we’ve got a long ways to go.”

Cabot White outhit Cabot Red 12-3. After Hurst, Hicks and Latture were the only other players with multiple hits as they had two each.

Bowers, Tillery, Lee Sullivan, Tyler Tucker and Trent Frizzell had a hit apiece for Cabot White. Braden Jarnigan had two of Cabot Red’s hits. Wes Brown had the only other hit for Cabot Red.

SPORTS STORY >> Devils showcase depth

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville football team only got nine practices in during spring drills, which allows for 10 in a three-week period. But head coach Rick Russell says it was still a very productive spring that culminated in a Red-White game on Wednesday.

“We accomplished a lot, got a few questions answered with our depth chart,” said Russell. “We made a lot of progress with our spread offense and really came a long way in getting our defensive package for the spread put in.”

The scrimmage game revealed just enough highlights from each unit to make Russell happy about the team’s progress. Teams were divided evenly instead of by starters versus backups. The new spread offense had long drives and a few big plays, but the defenses got their share of stops as well.

One of plays that stands out most to Russell was a 50-yard touchdown catch by wide receiver Terrell Moore. It was just a 5-yard underneath pass, but what impressed Russell most was the downfield blocking.

“The receivers are doing such a great job of blocking downfield,” Russell said. “On that play we not only got blocking from them, but we had Brandon Tooms, an offensive linemen, 30 yards downfield blocking. Terrell did a good job of reading his blocks, making the right cuts and he had to beat a man one-on-one for those last two yards. He just lunged the ball in. It was great effort by everyone involved.”

The starting rotation on the offensive line was set with college prospects Cory Harrison and Tooms at each tackle position. Jordan Belew is the starting center and one of the players that has made the most progress since last season.

“Jordan has just blossomed this offseason,” Russell said. “He’s gotten so much stronger and he plays so hard. He really gets after it.”

Sophomores Keith Purvall and Jalen Tatum will fill out the rest of the line. There’s also good depth.

“It’s lateral depth,” Russell said. “The backups are all going to be playing defense, but we feel like we have enough to make up two good offensive lines.”

Russell expected to be strong at the skill positions since offseason began, and he’s even more convinced it will be a strength now.

“We have the deepest group of backs and receivers as we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Russell said. “And it’s quality depth. We have so many players that I feel totally comfortable and confident putting the ball in their hands.”

The one Russell bragged about after Wednesday’s scrimmage was senior Carlin Heard.

“There’s another one like Belew that works so hard and gotten so much stronger,” Russell said. “He’s put on about 10 pounds, which for someone his size, is like 30 pounds for someone else. He’s increased his lifts tremendously. On the field he’s got great instincts. He really knows how to read his blocks and make the right decision. And on defense he’s so special because he’s great at talking. We call it ‘recognizing out loud’. When he’s in there at outside linebacker, he does a great job of recognizing the offense and communicating that.”

Senior Reggie Barnes continues to hold the top spot on the depth chart at quarterback, but Russell also feels good about the depth at that position. Sophomore Brandon Hickingbotham has been impressive since he joined the team at the end of baseball season. Russell said juniors Caleb Price and Kerry Knight have improved tremendously in the offseason and spring.

“Across the board we’re going to have a little more depth than we’ve had in several years,” Russell said. “We’re still not where you want to be. We can’t afford to lose anybody. But we’re better off than we have been.”

There is still one position that Russell doesn’t have a good idea of who will start.

“We’re still looking for that solid strong safety,” Russell said. “I’ve got a couple people in mind, but I’d like for someone to step up and show they want and deserve that position. I want them to decide who that starter is instead of the coaches.”

EDITORIAL >> Sane voices in academe

If reason prevails anywhere, you would expect it to be at a university, where it is supposed to be enshrined, administered and taught. So when one Arkansas university after another says “absolutely not” to gun-toting professors and staffs, you can only be reassured.

Thursday, the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees, a most conservative bunch, exempted all the university’s 11 campuses from the legislature’s new campus gun law. Arkansas State University’s board did the same for its four campuses. The Arkansas Tech University board also voted to keep its campus gun-free, except for campus police. Other schools had acted much earlier.

Act 116 of 2013, which takes effect in August, allows instructors and staffs to carry weapons on the campus so that they can defend themselves and shoot it out with any miscreants—students, visitors or other professors—who try to make trouble. But the sponsors of the bill agreed to give schools the chance to opt out of the campus armaments if any of them had strong objections. It turns out that all of them do, which should not be a surprise.

Act 116 was one of a flood of bills eliminating or loosening the restrictions on making, selling, buying or carrying guns in public or private sanctuaries that sailed through the General Assembly, where nearly every lawmaker was terrified of casting a vote that someone could say was against guns.

The national revulsion against the latest slaughter of children by a heavily armed and suicidal maniac, this one in Connecticut, seemed to be moving toward some common-sense restraints on the circulation of military weaponry, so the National Rifle Association and the munitions makers fought back by pushing bills in state legislatures that do the opposite — encourage the purchase of more weapons or remove restrictions on their handling in public.

The theory behind the campus gun law and bills that open other sanctuaries—churches, public schools, parks, public buildings and the public streets—to open or concealed carry is that the more guns that are in the hands of good people the safer everyone will be. It is illogical nonsense. The greater the prevalence of guns the greater is the likelihood that they will be used, by impulse, by accident or by design. The evidence is in every morning’s paper.

When Dr. Amy Bishop, who learned that she was being denied tenure, pulled out her 9-millimeter pistol and murdered three professors and gravely injured three others at a biology departmental staff meeting at the University of Alabama in 2010, gun adherents argued that if the other professors had all been carrying guns, too, they could have blown Dr. Bishop away when it became apparent that she was losing control of herself. In the Wild Wild West, wasn’t the safest place to be the streets of Tombstone, where everyone had a pistol under his belt? Sure, lots of people died, but quite a few of them deserved it.

The votes by the university trustees were unanimous, as were the recommendations from chancellors, faculty senates and student associations. David Pryor, the former governor and senator and now a member of the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees, was heartened.

He said the message from students, faculty, administrators and trustees was “very clear” and he hoped every institution would elect not to be armed for battle.

Might he have a word with his son, the young Senator Pryor, who voted last month not to strengthen background checks on gun buyers?

But that’s another story.

TOP STORY >> DAR holds first awards ceremony

Maj. Jacob Gray Chapter National Society Daughters of the American Revolution recently held its first awards and honors reception at the Jacksonville Museum of Military History.

Sixteen community members were recognized for their work and service to the community, state and nation.

 Ty Schultz, a Cabot High School senior, was given the Maj. Jacob Gray Chapter Scholarship worth $750 scholarship.

It is awarded annually to a graduating senior from Cabot, Jacksonville or North Pulaski High School. Recipients must major in historic preservation, history, secondary or elementary education or a medical field. Mary Lee Schultz of Cabot made the presentation.

 Michael York, also a Cabot High School senior, and Samiera Washington, a Jacksonville High School senior, were named DAR Good Citizens by their schools. York was the winner of the local chapter’s contest that was also entered in the statewide contest. They received certificates, pins and checks.

 Beebe High School history teacher Lindsey Sanders was recognized as the 2013 outstanding teacher of American history contest by chapter historian Lynda Etheridge of North Little Rock.

 John Wintz, a Beebe Junior High seventh grader, was the chapter’s American history essay contest winner.

Students were asked to write about “Forgotten Patriots Who Supported the American Struggle for Independence.” His essay was also entered in a statewide contest. American history committee chairman Jayne Spears of Beebe made the presentation.

 The chapter also recognized The Leader newspaper and its staff, Jeffrey Smith, Sarah Campbell and Jonathan Feldman, for helping to promote DAR. Publicity chairman Junelle Mongno of Jacksonville presented them with framed certificates of appreciation.

 Eight women were recognized for their contributions to American history. American History chairman Jayne Spears of Beebe honored former state Rep. Pat Bond of Jacksonville, a longtime education advocate; the late Leona Anderson Troxell Dodd, who was active in the community and politics; Kaki Hockersmith of Little Rock, an entrepreneur; Charlotte Huntley of Jacksonville, NSDAR 65-year member and entrepreneur; Joanne Kimsey of Cabot, NSDAR 54-year member and civic leader; the late Mary Burt Nash, who was a Pulaski County Juvenile Court judge; the late Jessie Speight Smith, a veteran and educator, and Laverne Robinson Thompson of Cabot, a veteran and business.

TOP STORY >> How to grow up to be a reporter

Leader staff writer

It was a great idea to bring visual aids for my recent presentations during career day at Murrell Taylor Elementary School in Jacksonville.

But giving them to a gaggle of third-graders before I spoke about what I do was not so brilliant. It took at least 10 minutes to put disheveled newspapers back together for the next class.

My competition for future recruits to the journalism field included military folks, a firefighter, a juvenile detention center director and more.

Being a reporter isn’t glamorous to most grown-ups and I was afraid the same would be true for children.

I hope my chosen profession holds a little magic now for the aspiring writers among the kindergartners, second-, third- and fifth-graders I talked to.

One fifth-grade girl asked when I knew I wanted to be a writer. My answer was that I remember thinking about it when I was her age.

Before that I wanted to be a doctor. Then I learned science and math weren’t for me.

The girl nodded when I asked if writing is what she wanted to do when she grew up. That just made my day.

I don’t know how many times the question “Is it fun?” came up.

I said I enjoy being a reporter because I get to talk to people all the time, learn new things and do something different every day.

Some of the most surprising questions were more technical than I was prepared for and another wasn’t specific to my job.

A third-grader asked what would happen if I didn’t do what my boss wanted me to do.

I told her anyone who disobeys their boss could be disciplined in a number of ways, with getting fired being the most severe.

If you think about that, it’s almost as if we adults are still in school and the boss is our teacher.

Another third-grader wanted to know how we put photos and stories in the paper.

I explained that we use a computer program called InDesign and it does just what the name implies. The program allows us to design the photos and stories on a page that we then send to the production staff and pressmen.

Another question was about my education. I earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, where my professors taught me how to write in inverted pyramid style with the most important facts at the top of an article, how to interview people, how to take photos and more.

My Nikon 5100 SLR camera was another nice visual aide but — as a teacher pointed out — I couldn’t pass around such an expensive piece of equipment like I did with the newspapers.

My goal for the day was to simplify what I do for a living and keep the kids interested.

I was shocked to discover that I, a not-so-good public speaker, seemed to have accomplished those goals.

The students asked a lot of questions and were better behaved than I expected.

I hope Murrell Taylor hosts this kind of event for them again and other schools should follow its lead.

TOP STORY >> Bidding a farewell to high school life

Leader staff writer

One area high school said goodbye to its seniors last night while two others will wish theirs luck today as they, young men and women, go on to enter the workforce or further their educations.

Jacksonville High School’s graduation was held Friday night on the football field, where 169 students were handed their diplomas.

Valedictorian Adam Hargis and salutatorian Hannah Shellito graced the stage to speak of high school experiences and where the class of 2013 should go from here.

In the front row were the other honor graduates, Tonancy Ramirez-Zamudio, Lori Shore, Chase Smiley, James Taylor and Samiera Washington.

North Pulaski High School’s commencement is set for 12:30 p.m. today at the Jack Stephens Center on the University of Arkansas at Little Rock campus.

The class of 2013 is 185 seniors strong.

Maitland Hurley is the valedictorian and Laura Spell is the salutatorian.

The other honor graduates are Caroline Bettencourt, Christopher Laxton, Kaley Nicholas, Bradley Degler, Fallon Howley, Shayla Evans, Kiana Benton, Austin Rainey, Jessica Hall, Kathryn Walter, Phelan Thomen, Sharon Wright, Darby Evans and Tiffany Waters.

Sylvan Hills High School’s 162 seniors will also receive their diplomas at the Jack Stephens Center. Their graduation is set for 5:30 p.m. today.

Hayden Huston, with a GPA of 4.164, was named valedictorian.

He is the son of Tom and Rhonda Huston.

Huston plans to attend the University of Arkansas Fayetteville to study pre-medicine chemistry.

He has been active in National Honor Society, Beta Club and Mu Alpha Theta in addition to being a member of the baseball team.

Lauren Dedmon, with a GPA of 4.095, was named salutatorian.

She is the daughter of Charles and Icephine Dedmon.

Dedmon also plans to attend U of A at Fayetteville. She wants to study broadcast journalism.

The salutatorian has received the Razorback Bridge Scholarship, the Alicia Nicole Rix Memorial Scholarship and the Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship.

Her extracurricular activities include National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, Beta Club, choir, cheer and senior executive committee. She also served as the editor of the yearbook.

The other honor graduates are Kelsey Caton, Brooke Murphy, Victoria LaFave, Chloe Voss, Naomi Gregory, Jeana Canady, John Miller, Madeline White and Andrea Elias.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

EDITORIAL >> Shoffner steps down

This is not a good time to be a Democrat in Arkansas. The party, which is facing extinction as the state moves further to the right, has almost no chance of winning statewide offices next year. The weekend arrest of state Treasurer Martha Shoffner, a Democrat, on bribery charges will only worsen the party’s troubles. Her resignation Tuesday afternoon will hardly limit the damage as Republicans are certain to use her mug in political commercials next year to highlight alleged corruption in the Democratic Party.

Shoffner is facing up to 20 years in prison after she was caught taking bribes from a securities dealer who was doing business with her office. Calls for her resignation came within hours of her arrest, and not only from Republicans, such as Sen. Eddie Joe Williams (R-Cabot) and others, but also from top Democrats, including Gov. Mike Beebe and party chairman and Jacksonville native Will Bond.

Bond, who has struggled to revive the party since the assassination of chairman Bill Gwatney, also of Jacksonville, despairs over the party’s chances in the upcoming elections and Monday called for Shoffner’s resignation.

“We have reviewed the criminal complaint just released regarding the alleged acts of state Treasurer Martha Shoffner, and we are shocked and disturbed by the allegations,” Bond said. “While Treasurer Shoffner has the right to be presumed innocent, Arkansas taxpayers have the right to have confidence that their money is being invested and managed properly. In order to restore public trust and to allow the treasurer’s office to operate its duties, we ask treasurer Shoffner to resign immediately.”

The Arkansas Times, which broke the story more than a year ago, has identified the bond dealer as Steele Stephens of St. Bernard Financial in Russellville. Suspicions arose when this small securities dealer managed to get most of the treasurer’s bond business. A legislative audit committee and the FBI also became curious. Before long, Stephens agreed to cooperate with the FBI and was wired when he delivered $6,000 in a pie filled with $100 bills to Shoffner’s home in Newport on Saturday.

The scandal could be the final blow to the state Democratic Party, which next year will probably lose the few constitutional offices it has managed to hold on to during a rising Republican tide. Shoffner could cost the Democrats the governorship and the Democratic Senate seat held by Mark Pryor.

Shofner has hired Chuck Banks, a first-class criminal lawyer, who kept Lu Hardin out of prison after he was caught stealing from the University of Central Arkansas. He claimed he stole from the university to cover gambling debts. Shoffner, who is 68, will probably blame her erratic behavior on advanced age and maybe even early dementia.

Whatever the outcome of this shocking case, it does not bode well for the Democrats, who are an endangered species. Back in the days when the Democrats ruled one-party Arkansas, public officials probably acted no differently from Shoffner. A new era is on the horizon. Too bad the state treasurer couldn’t see the change coming.

TOP STORY >> Old gas station makes state list

Leader staff writer

The Roundtop filling station in Sherwood has been named one of the top 10 most endangered historic places in the state by the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas.

The public is invited to join Mayor Virginia Hillman and Darrell Brown, chairman of the Sherwood History and Heritage Committee, for the official announcement at 10 a.m. Thursday at the William Woodruff House, 1017 E. 8th St. in Little Rock.

The committee was expecting to know on May 3 whether Sherwood had won an $80,000 Department of Arkansas Heritage grant to restore the landmark.

Brown said the announcement of the grant recipient has been moved to June 11.

Making the list could open doors to more funding sources, he added.

It could cost $150,000 to bring the 1936 station at Trammel and Roundtop roads back to its former glory, Brown said previously.

If the city is awarded the grant, the structure will be used as a police substation because the Department of Arkansas Heritage requires any building the grant is used for to have a designated purpose.

Donations for the restoration project are being accepted. They are tax deductible.

Send donations to “Save the Roundtop Campaign” c/o Sherwood City Clerk’s Office, P.O. Box 6256, Sherwood, Ark. 72124. Write “Roundtop” in the memo line of any checks.

For more information, contact Brown at 501-425-4037 or by e-mail at

W.D. “Happy” Williford operated the station for 36 years, from 1936 until 1972.

Real estate tycoon Justin Matthews built the Roundtop for the Pierce Oil Company after the federal government broke up the Standard Oil Company in 1911.

The landmark later became a Phillips 66, a Sinclair gas station and a DX station. It had three pumps.

Williford bought the Round-top in 1957 and sold it in 1999 to George Brown. Darrell Brown and George Brown are not related.

When George Brown passed away, his heirs gave the building to Sherwood.

Roundtop Road was once Hwy. 67, the main thoroughfare from Bald Knob and Searcy to Little Rock and North Little Rock. People from St. Louis also drove it.

The station was the only place that had public bathrooms between Searcy and Little Rock. The station has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places s

TOP STORY >> Airman investigates paranormal

19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The sun sets and a full moon rises on an eerie spring night, and all you can hear is the hiss of the wind blowing on the leaves and the muffled sounds of passing cars echoing off the grave stones at Camp Nelson Confederate Cemetery in Cabot.

For Staff Sgt. Justin Rangel of the 345th Recruiting Squadron at Little Rock Air Force Base, this is a normal environment when he’s off-duty.

Rangel’s hobby takes him into the darkest and scariest places for some people, because he is a paranormal investigator.

“Paranormal investigating is the approach of being able to validate a paranormal claim through scientific research or investigation,” he said.

Rangel is the co-lead investigator on the team and a technical specialist with a paranormal team based in Dallas-Fort Worth. When Rangel first started out, people in the paranormal community dubbed him the “paranormal airman.”

Rangel said his spooky ghost story infatuation began as a youth. While staying over at a friend’s house, a shadowy figure appeared over him. He said couldn’t breathe, because of the feeling of extreme pressure on his chest. In the midst of the encounter, he remembered his grandma’s advice that whenever he feels scared he should call upon Jesus. Then the haunting figure disappeared.

That ghostly encounter triggered his curiosity into the paranormal, and inspired his quest to figure out what it was he experienced that night.

“The whole paranormal thing has always been an interest of mine. I’ve been doing research on the paranormal and looking into different stories about the afterlife outside of (traditional) religious beliefs since 1999,” Rangel noted.

Even though Rangel was doing research in 1999, he really didn’t start actively investigating until about nine years ago.

“I actually started investigating back in 2004; it was pretty much right after my last deployment, and right before my first recruiting job,” Rangel explained.

“We got a team together and asked permission to go into places (to investigate). We started establishing ourselves in the local community in Louisiana. We actually started investigating before the whole ghost hunter thing went mainstream.”

When Rangel goes out on an investigation he uses different equipment and technologies to measure energy. He commonly uses standard electromagnetic field readers and other pieces of measuring equipment to get a base reading on the location his team is investigating.

Thanks to social media, Rangel and Fort Worth Paranormal have people from across the country seeking their unique skills.

“People usually find us on our Facebook fan page or our website,” Rangel said.

When his team receives a request to investigate a location, they thoroughly interview the client. After the interview, they decide how many team members they need for the investigation. The team will then split the responsibilities of the investigation. Some will research the history of the location, while the others will do a site visit. After everything is complete, they unmask the results of their findings to the client.

Throughout his career as a paranormal scrutinizer, Rangel has had a lot of chilling experiences — both good and bad.

One experience that Rangel vividly recalls was when his team was investigating the haunted Hotel Marshall in Marshall, Texas, where a tragic event happened on an evening in August 2012. During their investigation inside the hotel. Rangel recalled he and his partner were asking questions and shooting video when suddenly his partner started complaining of a feeling much more intense than the “heebie jeebies.” It was during this time that his friend started to complain about a burning sensation on his back. Rangel lifted up the shirt and saw deep scratches that appeared and welted up right before his eyes.

Rangel and his ghost hunter team offer open minded analysis of supernatural encounters for clients regardless of religious affiliations or locations.

“We do this as a service to the community, for those folks who are too afraid to talk about certain things and speak out about their experiences,” Rangel said. “We are here to help.”

Rangel said he uses integrity, an Air Force core value, and applies it to his paranormal investigation.

“As far as experiences in the Air Force, first and foremost the integrity approach, because you don’t want to go out there and approach an investigation with a bunch of falsities,” Rangel said.

TOP STORY >> Sherwood, NLR to work together

Leader staff writer

North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith says the creation of a North Little Rock electric commission with Sherwood representation on it could be several years away.

“We’re certainly looking into the possibility,” he noted. But the utility will be busy for the next three years negotiating contracts to purchase power.

There are several different types of commissions, Smith said. They include those that only make decisions about employees and those that run day-to-day operations in addition to making recommendations about rates.

“We’re looking into some kind of hybrid type,” the mayor said.

Sherwood residents by more than a 2-1 margin voted on May 14 to uphold an ordinance that renewed the city’s contract with the NLR Electric Department through 2035.

Smith said, “We were pleased that Sherwood residents thought we had done a good job over the last 50, 60 years. There really is a kinship between NLR and Sherwood and we really are sister cities.”

The utility services 7,500 customers in Sherwood.

This vote means that those 7,500 will keep NLR Electric as their provider.

Sherwood residents who have Entergy or First Electric Cooperative will not change to NLR Electric because the city’s contracts with those utilities are not up for renewal yet.

The NLR utility spent almost $50,000 on direct mail, advertising and consulting, and the tele-town hall it hosted during the campaign.

Smith approved the expenditure.

He said, “I went to way too many meetings and talked with too many people who didn’t know what the election was about. I think it was money well spent. We certainly didn’t want to lose Sherwood as a customer.”

The opposition, a grassroots group called Citizens of Sherwood Together (COST), received a $100 donation from resident Robert Jackson and $720 worth of advertising from First Ridge Associates to use for the campaign, according to a report the Arkansas Ethics Commission requires be submitted seven days before an election.

Another grassroots group, Facts About Customers’ Electric Services (FACES), supported staying with NLR Electric.

According to its report to the commission, FACES received $2,380 from residents, Sherwood Alderman Charles Harmon, NLR Electric interim general manager Jason Carter and NLR Electric employee Jill Ponder.

Harmon contributed $50. Carter and Ponder donated $200 — $100 each.

Several North Little Rock city council members, like the mayor, voiced support for NLR Electric’s $50,000 expenditure and were pleased with the outcome of the election.

Alderman Debi Ross said, “It’s a win-win situation for both cities.”

She lived in Sherwood several years ago and had NLR Electric as her provider then too.

Ross said, “I know it’s equal service.”

She continued, “(Now) we’ll know how much power to purchase. We could have lost a lot more money if we had over purchased. I’m very comfortable with the $50,000 (NLR Electric) spent on (the election campaign).”

Alderman Steve Baxter said, “I was happy to see the citizens had faith in their city council. It just validates that the people who put them there think they’re doing a good job.”

He added, “I wish we wouldn’t have had to spend any on it. In order to continue our partnership with Sherwood, we had to do that.”

Alderman Beth White didn’t want to comment on the $50,000, but she said, “I think the people of Sherwood expressed what they wanted.”

Alderman Charlie Hight said, “I thought (the vote) was great. I think it confirmed the fact that the Sherwood city council had made the right decision. I think (the $50,000) was needed in order to get the message out to voters that NLR Electric wants their business.”

A new law passed on March 11 makes it illegal to use public funds to support or oppose a ballot measure. The law has not gone into effect yet because it did not have an emergency clause.

Smith said, “We had to communicate with our customers, and the other Sherwood voters, about the value of continuing the relationship between North Little Rock and Sherwood. The cost of this communication was not paid from tax revenues. It was paid from electric department revenues that would be directly affected by the outcome of the election. I understand that the legislature has recently changed...I will certainly direct our city leaders to adhere to these new laws. Nevertheless, I’m glad that we had the opportunity to (in a timely manner)communicate with (voters).”

SPORTS STORY >> Bruins only fielding AA, junior team

Leader sportswriter

At the beginning of next month, the Sylvan Hills Bruins American Legion baseball teams will open their season with a new head coach and an estimated 30 players for the junior and AA teams.

Matt Presson, who spent last season as an assistant for the Bruins’ AA team, will take over head coaching duties this summer for both the junior and AA teams.

“I’m the team manager, but Matt Presson is the head coach of the AA Legion team and the junior Legion team,” said Bruins manager Jim Fink. “He helped (former coach) Brandon Eller last year. Brandon went to the Jonesboro area, so Matt’s going to move up and be the head coach this year.”

Each team has had just one organized practice to date, and with the high school season just now wrapping up and it still being early in the signing up process, neither team has all of its players in place. But according to Fink, the two teams will have its share of competitors.

“It’s really too early to tell at this point in time, but we have some guys that really want to play baseball, and we’re looking forward to working with them,” Fink said. “As far as numbers go, right now we’ve got about 10 boys per team, and we’re continuing to add more every day. What we should end up having is about 15 or 16 (players) on each team.”

Hunter and Dawson Heslep, along with Carson Sanders are three of the returning starters Fink mentioned for the Bruins’ junior team, which are made up of 15-, 16- and 17-year olds. For the Bruins’ AA team, Fink mentioned Robert Brock and Mitchell Meyers as two players returning to the team, which consists of 17-, 18- and 19-year olds.

Although Sylvan Hills’ junior and AA teams will be primarily made up of players from the Sherwood area, players from North Little Rock, North Pulaski and England schools have joined each team to fill out the roster.

Once the season gets underway, Sylvan Hills will be playing the bulk of its schedule against teams from Cabot, Jacksonville, North Little Rock, Benton, Conway, Heber Springs, Morrilton, Pangburn and Pine Bluff.

The Bruins’ AA team will be the first Sylvan Hills team to start the season with a home-opener against Pangburn at 7 p.m. on June 3. The Bruins’ junior team will open its season three-days later on June 6 with a doubleheader at Cabot that starts at 6 p.m.

SPORTS STORY >> Gwatney deals with big turnout

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville American Legion coach Bob Hickingbotham has a numbers problem, but it’s not the one he usually deals with. Participation in American Legion baseball has slipped in recent years with the emergence of extended high school leagues and showcase teams. But this year, Hickingbotham has too many players. He says overall it’s a good thing, but there are some problems that come with having 41 players wanting to join his program.

“For one thing I only have one person helping me coach and he can’t be here every day, especially right now,” Hickingbotham said. “I’ve got a hand problem and can’t hardly swing a bat right now. I need somebody out there who can hit fun goes to these kids.”

The coaching situation means Jacksonville can’t possibly have three teams, and only two teams means everyone who comes out may not get to be a part of the program. There’s also a problem emerging concerning American Legion rules that says one team cannot pull from school districts whose combined enrollments exceed 5,000.

Right now Hickingbotham has players in practice from Jacksonville, North Pulaski, Cabot, Beebe and Abundant Life. Those schools combine for more than 4,300 in enrollment. He also says he’s received word that players from Vilonia, Des Arc and Lonoke want to play for Gwatney this year, which would bring the total to more than 5,600.

“I can’t have that many,” Hickingbotham said. “You can’t exceed 5,000. The kids from Vilonia, Lonoke and Des Arc haven’t shown up yet, but if things stay the same as they are right now, they may not get to play.

“We also have one program here nearby, that wants to tell kids they cut that they can come over here and play. But then they have kids that don’t want to play there, that they won’t let leave. It’s just a mess right now. We can’t have programs treating kids like that.”

Hickingbotham expects a fairly strong junior team. It will consist largely of players from Jacksonville’s and Beebe’s high-school teams. Both of those class 5A high-school programs made it to the state tournament this year with young lineups.

“I have just about the whole Jacksonville team able to play on my junior team,” Hickingbotham said. “I have eight or nine from Beebe and I think most of them are junior players. The North Pulaski kids are mostly senior players and I got one from Abundant Life.”

While the junior team appears strong, the senior team has good numbers, but not much pitching, according to the coach.

“We’ve got to find some people that can throw strikes and get people out or we’re going to be in trouble on that senior team,” Hickingbotham said. “You’ve got all these high-school programs kicking their seniors to the curb, so now you’ve got all these legion programs combining their senior teams and making all-star teams out of them. I don’t really have a problem with that. Those kids need a place to play. But we’re going to have a tough time against those teams if we can’t find some pitching.”

Hickingbotham says he’ll have a junior roster complete by the end of the week and just in time for the first game.

The Gwatney junior team plays Lonoke on Tuesday in the first round of the North Little Rock Memorial Day tournament at Burns Park.

SPORTS STORY >> Striving for recognition

Leader sports editor

He’s probably the best player no one has heard of. He led the 5A Central in home runs and had the league’s highest batting average, but while many other players are signing letters of intent, or at least getting attention from college coaches, North Pulaski’s Austin Allen continues to toil in relative obscurity, despite his grand statistics.

Allen finished the season batting .646 with six home runs while playing centerfield for the Falcons. He recorded nine doubles, three triples, 22 runs batted in and stole 13 bases. He hit .680 in the most top-heavy conference in the state.

He was named All-Conference the last two years and All-State this season. He was also selected to the All-Star team, made up entirely of college signees.

“He’s had a phenomenal season,” North Pulaski baseball coach Michael Dean said. “I don’t understand why he hasn’t gotten much attention. In my opinion, he could go and help any college baseball team. He’s the best hitter I’ve seen in our league, and we’ve got some great players in our conference. He got a few home runs early and he started swinging for the fences too much instead of using the approach that got him those home runs. So he could’ve been even better. He’s going to be a steal for whatever coach finally decided to take him. And he’s still not fully recovered from his football injury.”

Dean, who is also a football assistant, was on hand in preseason practice when a loud pop halted practice and the standout senior went down with a tear to the anterior cruciate ligament. Allen had played wide receiver the two previous years for the Falcon football team, but an experiment by second-year coach Teodis Ingram showed that Allen moved the offense better than any of the underclassmen he was trying out at quarterback.

Optimism was running high for the historically losing program in Ingram’s second year. Ingram was well aware that Allen didn’t know the position very well, but said the senior had something that seemed to be working.

“He’s a senior that just has better command of the huddle,” Ingram said in the summer when he decided his experiment of Allen at quarterback was now a policy. “He doesn’t throw the best ball, but he’s fast and by far the strongest of the bunch. And he just has a confidence we’ve been lacking from the sophomores we’re trying out. The offense just seems to move better with him out there.”

That quote was a week before the ACL tear. It sidelined Allen the whole football season, but not as long as most similar injuries sideline players.

Allen’s injury usually puts a player out of commission for nine months to a year. Allen was back in seven months working out with the baseball team. He was cleared to play, but was warned that he wasn’t 100 percent and told that his decision to play baseball instead of continuing therapy may delay a full recovery.

Allen, an avid lover of baseball who sees it as his ticket to bigger and better things, decided to play.

“I love playing baseball and I want to take it as far as I possibly can,” Allen said. “I want to be an example to other kids who play at North Pulaski that you can make it out of there and be successful as a baseball player. There was no way I wasn’t going to play. I knew I had to play to get a chance at taking it to the next level.”

As late in the recruiting process as it is, Allen knows his best route now is junior college, but he doesn’t mind that. He believes he has the ability to parlay that into a four-year school in two years.

“Right now I just want the chance to show that I can be good enough to make it,” Allen said. “I think part of the reason I haven’t been getting much attention is that (college) coaches don’t bother watching North Pulaski. And that’s a shame because we have some good players. I think some of it is my injury, but I know I can get through this.”

Allen plans to play showcase ball as well as senior American Legion ball with Jacksonville’s Gwatney Chevrolet team. He thought about only playing showcase, but a new rule allows American Legion players to participate in two leagues. Plus he wants to stay loyal to Jacksonville coach Bob Hickingbotham.

“The guy has been around so long and knows so much about baseball,” Allen said of Hickingbotham. “You learn a lot from just being around him and just listening to him. You pick up things when he’s not even trying to coach you, just talking.”

Allen sees Hickingbotham as more than a coach too. He admires the 78-year-old who’s been coaching for 63 years.

“The man fights skin cancer to stand out there in the sun and coach us,” Allen said. “How can you not admire that? He’s a great guy.”

Hickingbotham recognized Allen’s talent when he was very young, and moved him up to play with his senior team when he was only 15 years old.

Most of that team was made up of players off Jacksonville High School’s 2010 state championship squad.

Hickingbotham says he wishes he could’ve left Allen on the junior team, but needed more players on the senior team and Allen was the most physically ready.

“That group was tough to deal with, and Austin got in with them and started acting like them,” Hickingbotham said. “He got a little cocky playing up there with those older boys. He was a little better last year. I think that injury and all the work that took to come back hopefully helped him some. You have to know how to go to work to get back from something like that. There’s no doubt he can be a player, but he has to take it more seriously than he has been. It’s come easy for him so far, but he’s going to learn you have to commit and work at baseball to keep moving up the ladder.”

Allen says he’s ready for that commitment.

“I’m going to work as hard as I can,” Allen said. “This is what I’m good at. This is my ticket. I’m playing two leagues to try to get more exposure. I want that scholarship so bad. I just need someone to give me a chance.”

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot’s legion pitching is deep

Leader sportswriter

While other American Legion programs are finding it necessary to combine forces, Cabot Post 91 continues to show signs of growth. Cabot will once again field a senior team and two junior clubs for the summer 2013 season, and will begin junior zone play on Thursday with Cabot Red versus Cabot White, while the senior team will travel to Texarkana the following day to begin its season.

Cabot high-school assistant coach Cody Whitworth moves over to take the helm for the senior group while Chris Gross returns to coach the junior Red team, and David Smith taking over the White team.

Good overall numbers also translates to strong bullpens for the three teams, particularly with the senior Centennial Bank squad team. Whitworth said nearly all of his roster of 16 could go if needed, with score of eight hurlers that could take the mound at any time this summer.

“We’re going to have a lot of arms,” Whitworth said. “We’re loaded with returners who have been in the Legion program. We will have depth on the mound – just about everybody we’ve got can pitch if we need them to. There’s up to 12 that could see time.”

The inclusive list begins with ace and UCA commit Ryan Logan, a southpaw who has started for three years on the Panther high-school team.

Logan’s performance through the spring took its toll on his left arm, and the standout will most likely sit out the first week or two to give it extra time to recover, but Whitworth expects him to have the most starts before it is all said and done.

“He’s pretty legit,” Whit-worth said. “His arm is a little tender, so he won’t start early. We also have Bryson Morris, another lefty who graduated last year. He has been at Arkansas Tech.”

Morris brings back the most experience for Cabot, while Riley Knudsen and Grayson Cole are expected to see significant time on the mound this summer.

Behind those pitchers are right hander Conner Vocque, outfielder Casey Vaughan and Hayden Vinson, while Cole Thomas will be used in a reliever capacity.

Projected defensive starters are catcher Tristan Bulice, Morris at first, Knudsen at second, Thomas at shortstop and Coleman McAtee at third base. Knudsen hit .465 for the Panthers in the spring, while McAtee batted just over .300. Vaughn, who is committed to Crowder Jr. College in Missouri, will start most nights in left field after a strong spring in which he batted .334, his third summer to start for the Post 91 senior team.

Vocque has Division I college interest, and will start in centerfield while Cole will start in right when not pitching, leaving Vinson as the infield utility player to fill in for whoever is pitching on a given night.

Kyle Kaufman will play a similar role for the outfield.

“Our motto in high school is ‘every single rep, every single day,’ and we’re just going to carry that over into the summer,” Whitworth said. “It won’t be much of an adjustment for them to adapt to me as a head coach versus an assistant, they all know I expect them to work hard. I’m excited about it. They’re all good kids and work really hard.”

Also on the senior roster are Landon Alberson, Rhett Alberson, Trace Burk, Trent Frizzell and Shawn Williams.

Gross’s team includes right-handed pitcher Adam Hicks along with lefties Gavin Tillery and Lee Sullivan.

“We should be pretty solid,” Gross said. “We’re a little older and better defensively. As far as swinging the bat, we really don’t have anybody who stands out. Our pitching will be pretty good, this group is probably the future of Cabot on the high-school side, they will most likely be the studs next year and the year after.

“I’ll know a little more about what I have after we play in the Lakeside tournament.”

Familiar names on this year’s Red club include Lino Garcia, Ethan Holland, Braden Jarnigan, Austin Jones, Josh Kelpine, Jack Teague and Jacob Wamack.

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Wildcats champions

Leader sports editor

FAYETTEVILLE – There was no fantastic finish Saturday. There wasn’t even much suspense. In fact, the class 7A softball championship game was the most unexciting of the seven played last weekend. That’s only because it was the most dominant performance by any team as the North Little Rock Charging Lady Wildcats pummeled Rogers 10-0 in six innings, becoming the only mercy-rule winner of championship weekend at Bogle Field.

Leadoff hitter Sydney Parr came through with three triples and scored three runs, and pitcher Kayleigh Wynne threw a three-hitter while striking out seven in a game in which Rogers never had a chance.

“These girls just did everything you need to do to win a championship game,” North Little Rock coach Anthony Cantrell said after the game. “I’m just so proud of them. We had some great performances today but every single girl on this team did her job. They’ve been that way all year and that’s why they’re celebrating right now.”

Cantrell’s only disappointment was in not being allowed to name co-MVPs to Parr and Wynne.

“I don’t see how anyone who watched that game can’t understand there needs to be co-MVPs,” Cantrell said. “I’ve never heard of it being forbidden before, but that’s how it goes I guess.”

Wynne got the award for her efforts. He lone walk was the first batter of the game. She got stronger from there. She didn’t give up a hit until two outs in the fifth inning, a bloop single over shortstop Ashton Bobbitt, who was playing very shallow.

Rogers hit just one ball hard the entire game, a scorching line drive by Maddie Massanelli that sailed right into the glove of centerfielder Emily Bullock to start the fifth inning.

As solidly at North Little Rock played, Rogers was just as shaky. The Lady Mounties, who had lost 14-1 to North Little Rock early in the season, played like a team intimidated.

They committed four fielding errors, made several mental mistakes and ran themselves out of the only leadoff hit they got the entire game.

“We just didn’t play like we did last week,” said Rogers coach Mike Harper.

His team had finished third in the 7A West Conference, but peaked at the right time and made an impressive run through the state tournament. But the Lady Mounties did not bring the play that got them through state to the championship game.

The previous game ended very early and there was a long wait for both teams before the 7A game began. Harper said he thinks that may have added to his team’s tightness, but stopped at making it an excuse for the loss.

“I think we were tight and maybe the delay was a part of that, but that didn’t matter. We just didn’t play well today and a better team beat us. That’s a very good ball team over there.”

Parr started the game with a triple to right-centerfield on a running slap hit. She would duplicate it in her next two at bats. After the first triple, she scored on a deep sacrifice fly to left field by Wynne.

North Little Rock had an equally impressive start to the second inning. Erin Columbus led off with her own triple, but she over-slid past third base and was tagged out.

The bottom of the third inning saw the third leadoff triple as Parr hit another shot to the same spot. She scored on a passed ball as the next two batters went down in order. Junior Katy Kinnison then stepped to the plate and turned in an at bat that changed the complexion of the game.

With two outs and nobody on base, Kinnison quickly fell into a two-strike hole. But she battled Rogers’ pitcher Haylee Zimmerman for 13 pitches, fouling off seven pitches before finally drawing a walk and stealing second base.

What followed was three-straight, two-out RBI base hits by Hannah Lovercheck, McKenzie Escovedo and Columbus that made it 5-0. North Little Rock has not given up five runs in a varsity game since March.

“I was aware of the moment but at the same time I felt like I needed to just take the same approach I have all year,” Kinnison said of her huge at bat. “You get down two strikes you just shorten up and battle. I just felt like if I could get on base my teammates would keep it going.”

Parr started another three-run rally with a one-out triple in the fourth inning. She scored on a base hit by Bobbitt. Wynne got her second hit of the game to put two runners on base. It also ran Zimmerman off the mound.

Massanelli replaced her, but she also started shakily by walking Kennison to load the bases. Lovercheck grounded into a 6-2 fielder’s choice, but Escovedo picked up her second and third RBIs with a single to left field.

With everything else going North Little Rock’s way, why not a little luck also. Luck came the Lady Wildcats’ way in the sixth inning, helping to end the game early. Bobbitt led off with a double to right field. She moved to third on a groundout by Wynne and scored on a wild pitch to make it 9-0.

With two outs, Lovercheck got an accidental infield single when a pitch hit the handle of her bat and rolled into fair territory, slowly down the third baseline. She made her way around the bases and finally scored the game-ending run on a passed ball.

Parr went 3 for 4. Her last at bat was another hard line drive, but Massanelli snagged it at the mound.

Bobbitt went 2 for 4 with a double after starting with two fly ball outs. Kinnison was 1 for 2 with two walks. Lovercheck, Escovedo and Columbus each went 2 for 3 at the plate. The Lady Wildcats finished with 13 base hits.

Wynne gave up an infield single right after the first hit she allowed in the fifth inning. Rogers lead off hitter Jennifer Gonzalez started the sixth with an infield single that trickled down the third baseline, but she was called out for leaving the bag too early on a fly ball a few pitches later.

Rogers finishes the season 21-11. North Little Rock finishes on an 11-game winning streak and with a 30-7 overall record.