Wednesday, April 29, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Beebe gets walk-off hit, beats NLR

Leader sportswriter

The Beebe High School softball team got a big nonconference win at home on Monday, beating two-time, defending Class 7A state champion North Little Rock 3-2 on a two-out, walk-off single by Lady Badger shortstop Nikita Howell.

Beebe (18-3, 10-0) and NLR (10-7, 7-3) went into the seventh inning tied at 2-2, and the Lady Charging Wildcats were held scoreless during their at-bat in the top of the seventh.

In the bottom half of the seventh, Beebe’s Courtney Shepard got things started with a one-out single to center field. NLR starting pitcher RachelGregory struck out Beebe three-hole hitter Megan Davlin the next at-bat for the second out of the inning, but walked Aleighu Porterfield the following at-bat.

Beebe starting pitcher Ellie Reaves then loaded the bases with an infield single, bringing Howell to the plate. With a 2-1 count, Howell hit a line drive into left field on the fourth pitch of the at-bat. The ball landed just in front of left fielder Lydia Belew’s glove, which allowed Shepard to score the winning run for Beebe.

“We haven’t played real well against good teams here lately,” said Beebe coach Eric Chambers. “They’re a good team. What they (NLR) do is they swing the bat. She (Reaves) threw a lot of pitches, and got up and down.

“I was glad to see that we kept plugging and plugging, and we made some things happen. We had a good hit at the right time and scored the winning run. We also had a couple of other good hits that put us in position to score. It was a good win for us. We really needed it.”

North Little Rock scored the first two runs of the game in the top of the second. Reagan Sperling reached on a bunt single to lead off the inning, and scored four batters later on a two-out single to left field by Morgan Seaton.

The next at-bat, Bailey Harris scored on a single up the middle by leadoff hitter Sydney Parr, which gave NLR its 2-0 lead. Beebe scored its first two runs in the bottom of the third.

Catcher Haley Dinapoli led off the bottom of the third with a stand-up double to left field, and Baylee Halford followed Dinapoli’s at-bat with a bunt single to shortstop.

Two batters later, Shepard caught the right side of the infield sleeping, and reached on a bunt single to that side of the field. She picked up an RBI on the play as Hannah Crafton, Dinapoli’s courtesy runner, scored, which cut NLR’s lead to 2-1.

Davlin walked the next at-bat to load the bases, but Gregory followed with a strikeout for the second out of the inning. That brought Reaves to the plate, and she battled Gregory to a 3-2 count before being walked. That gave Reaves an easy RBI as Halford scored on the play, knotting the score up at 2-2.

Reaves earned the win in the circle. She pitched all seven innings, and recorded three strikeouts. Gregory recorded six strikeouts in the losing effort.

The Lady Badgers narrowly outhit the Lady Cats, 9-8. Shepard led Beebe with three hits. Dinapoli and Halford each had two hits, while Reaves and Howell had one apiece.

Sperling led NLR with three hits. Parr and Cassidy Tucker also had multiple hits for the Lady Cats. They each had two.

As good as Monday’s win is for the Lady Badgers, they’ll play their most important games of the season tomorrow at home against Sylvan Hills. That 5A-Central doubleheader will in all likelihood decide the conference champion, and first pitch is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.