Tuesday, April 12, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> CHS softball gets easy sweep at MH

Leader sports editor

The Lady Panther softball team had little trouble with host Mountain Home on Friday. Cabot got an easy and fast sweep of the Bombers, winning 16-0 and 10-0 in the 7A/6A-East Conference doubleheader.

The Cabot bats were alive and the Bomber defense was not, leading to the huge margin and four-inning ending in game one. Cabot compiled 13 base hits and three walks to go with seven Mountain Home errors.

Lauren McCluskey pitched for Cabot and gave up just one hit over four innings with five strikeouts and zero walks.

The big inning in game one came early, as Cabot scored seven runs in the top of the first, starting with a leadoff walk by Leah Gerald. Bethany Knowles then reached on the first error to put two runners on for Southern Miss commitment Heather Hill.

She then ripped a double to left field to score both base runners to give the Lady Panthers a 2-0 lead with no outs. Hannah Montgomery benefitted from another MH error and Hill moved to third.

McCluskey singled to score Hill and was replaced by courtesy runner Kenzie Howard. Parker Steadman walked to load the bases before Kaitlyn Felder hit her own two-run single to center field for a 5-0 lead.

With runners on the corners, Felder’s courtesy runner, Tracy Hanson, stole second, and the MH second baseman failed to hold onto the throw from home.

That allowed Steadman to score before Rachel Allgood struck out for the first out of the inning. Macee Abbott popped up to first for the second out, but Hanson scored on a passed ball for the final run of the opening frame.

Cabot got a five-run second inning started with a leadoff single by Hill. Montgomery followed with a double to right that left both runners in scoring position.

McCluskey’s sacrifice grounder scored Hill and left Montgomery at third base. Steadman reached on a bunt single, and Felder’s second double drove in Montgomery for a 9-0 Cabot lead. Allgood walked and Abbott reached when MH tried, but failed, to get the out at home on her ground ball, making it 10-0 and leaving the bases loaded.

Gerald was then called out for interference after her bunt attempt. Knowles then singled to drive in Hanson and Allgood for a 12-0 lead going into the bottom of the second inning.

Cabot got just one run in the third. Montgomery was hit by the second pitch of the inning, and Steadman tripled with one out to make it 13-0.

In the decisive fourth inning, Bethany Knowles hit a two-out home run after Gerald’s leadoff single. Hill then singled to left field, advanced to second on an error and scored on another error to set the final margin.

Hill led Cabot in hits, going 3 for 4 with two RBIs. Knowles went 2 for 4 with four runs batted in. Felder went 2 for 3 with two doubles and three RBIs. Gerald and Steadman also had two hits apiece for the Lady Panthers (8-2, 6-0).

Playing as the home team in game two, Gerald singled to start the game and scored on a one-out double by Hill. She then scored on another double by Montgomery for a quick 2-0 lead.

Abbott and Gerald got on to start the second inning on a hit-by-pitch and an error, but were still standing on second and third with two outs. Montgomery then lined a single to left to score Abbott, and Gerald scored on yet another MH error.

No one scored in the third, but Cabot posted three in the fourth. Hill was hit, Montgomery singled and McCluskey walked to load the bases with no outs. Anna Beth Duncan singled to score Hill and Felder singled to score Montgomery.

Allgood’s bunt got Howard thrown out at home and Abbott lined out to center field, but Gerald drew a bases-loaded walk to score Duncan and give Cabot a 7-0 lead.

Needing three runs in the bottom of the fifth for another mercy-rule ending, the Lady Panthers got just that. Hill took a pitch off the arm and Montgomery walked to start the inning.

Two batters later, Steadman hit an RBI single that scored Hill and left two runners on base. Felder then singled to load the bases for Marlee Munford. She finished things off with a two-RBI double to the wall in center field for the 10-0 win.

Montgomery and Felder each went 3 for 3 at the plate to lead Cabot’s 14-hit performance. McCluskey was even better in the nightcap. She pitched all five innings and gave up just one hit while again striking out five and walking no one.

Mountain Home (8-9, 3-3) hosts Little Rock Central in its next outing. Cabot plays a nonconference game at 5 p.m. today at Sylvan Hills, and will host another conference doubleheader against Jonesboro at 5 p.m. Thursday.