Tuesday, May 12, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> JHS ladies hit state on streak

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Lady Red Devils will be the No. 3 seed from the 5A-Central when they begin play in the Class 5A state tournament tomorrow in Hot Springs, but they enter the playoffs having won four games, two against stiff competition, in the final week of the regular season.

Jacksonville beat Class 2A power Benton Harmony-Grove 3-1 last Tuesday. On Wednesday the Lady Red Devils swept an easy doubleheader against McClellan to close out conference play. On Thursday, they defeated the 5A-West four seed Maumelle 4-0. The four wins followed a 9-4 loss to Morrilton last Monday, a game Jacksonville coach Hank Hawk was glad to put behind him.

“We played horrible in that game,” said Hawk. “We played five games in a week, and were able to bounce back and play really well in the other four. That’s good. You want to hit state playing your best, and we did really well defensively in those last few games.”

Kym House and Brianna Loyd each threw perfect games against McClellan. Each faced the minimum nine batters with House striking out eight and Loyd fanning six Lady Lions.

Playing as the home team in the 15-0 game-one win, Jacksonville scored eight in the first, six in the second and ended the game with a run in the third.

All eight first-inning runs came with two outs after two of the first three Jacksonville hitters flew out to the left side. Two-hole hitter Morgan Lloyd reached on an error. Emily Lovercheck finally got Jacksonville’s first base hit with an RBI double to right, and scored on the same play after a McClellan error. Loyd then reached on the third error of the inning before back-to-back doubles made it 4-0. Kinley Burrows and Zylah Richardson got back-to-back singles, and leadoff hitter Bailea Jones tripled to left field to make it 7-0. She scored on a hit by Lloyd to cap the inning.

Five more hits and two more McClellan errors set the tone in the second inning. Jacksonville finished it with a Lion error and a base hit in the third.

As the visiting team in game two, Jacksonville scored 13 runs in the first inning. A McClellan pitching change resulted in several walks and hit batters. In all, eight Lady Red Devils walked and three were hit by pitches, with four of those walks coming in succession in the final inning after the change on the mound. There were also five errors by McClellan. Jacksonville needed just eight base hits to score the 16 runs.

Jacksonville will face Greene County Tech, the number two seed from 5A-East Conference, in the first round of state at 5 p.m. Thursday.