Friday, April 22, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Bears’ confidence gets boost

Leader sports editor

The Sylvan Hills softball team’s 5A-Central doubleheader with McClellan was rained out on Thursday, but the Lady Bears did get a big, confidence building win on Monday with a 6-5 home victory against Greenbrier.

The Lady Panthers, who are undefeated in 5A-West play and tied with Vilonia for first place in that conference, took a 5-2 lead in the top of the seventh inning with a three-run burst. But Sylvan Hills literally one-upped them in the bottom half of the inning to win the game.

“That was huge for us from a confidence standpoint,” said Sylvan Hills coach Mark Anderson. “They had won the North Little Rock tournament of champions and are sitting there undefeated in a pretty tough conference. So it was a huge win for us, especially since we’ve struggled a little bit the last couple of weeks.”

Anderson goes back to before a long, weather-related layoff before spring break to pinpoint where his team’s struggles began. A low point was being swept by conference rival Jacksonville, but the head Bear believed something was about to change after last week’s one-run loss to Batesville.

“At the first of the year, we were playing great,” Anderson said. “We got off track a little bit when we went so long without a game, and just have never gotten back to form for some reason. Then last Thursday, we played really well the whole game and then fell apart in the seventh inning and lost that one to Batesville. After the game, I could see it in their faces. They were just so disappointed in themselves. I thought to myself, ‘I don’t even have to say anything. They’re about to fix something.’ It looks like that may be the case. It’s just disappointing that we have to wait so long between games again. You’d like to capitalize on a win like that and start getting some momentum.”

In the decisive seventh, Doma’Nique Hunt hit a leadoff single before Lynlee Broadway reached on an error at second base. Brittanie Stricklin was hit by a pitch to load the bases, but Joy Franco struck out looking for the first out. Cara Pozza walked to drive in the first run. Madison Shelton then hit a spinner off the end of the bat that the pitcher fielded and threw wildly to first. That scored the two tying runs and moved Pozza to third.

Storm Ellis then hit a sacrifice grounder to second base to drive in the game-winning run.

Pozza and Hunt went 2 for 3 to lead Sylvan Hills offensively.

The Lady Bears (8-8, 4-2) travel to Nashville for a nonconference game on Monday. They will make up the doubleheader with McClellan at home on Wednesday, and then host Beebe in another 5A-Central doubleheader on Thursday that will likely decide the two seed in the state tournament.