Saturday, May 14, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> BHS girls win opening game

By RAY BENTONLeader sports editor

HARRISON – The Beebe softball team met up with a pitcher it just couldn’t do much with Friday in the quarterfinal round of the Class 5A state tournament.

The end result was a season-ending 6-1 loss to 5A-South champion DeQueen, but not before a dramatic victory in the first round on Thursday that provided some valuable postseason experience for a young team.

The Lady Badgers were counted out twice in the first-round game before roaring back both times and finally prevailing 5-4 in the bottom of the seventh.

Farmington, the three seed from the 5A-West, took a 2-0 lead in the top of the fifth on back-to-back leadoff doubles and a one-out sacrifice bunt. Beebe had just one base hit up to that point, and none since the first at-bat of the game, but got one more big one in the bottom of the fifth.

Elizabeth Shellenberger drew a leadoff walk before a strikeout and 5-3 grounder left her on second with two outs. Leadoff hitter Katlyn Gordon then walked to put two runners on, and Baylee Halford slapped a two-run double to tie the game.

Farmington jumped right back on top in the top of the sixth. The Lady Cardinals got a walk, a hit batter and a fielder’s choice to put runners at first and second with one out. Three-straight singles followed to drive in two more runs and give Farmington a 4-2 lead.

Beebe failed to answer in the bottom half, despite getting its leadoff runner to second base with no outs. Farmington got a great start to the top of the seventh when nine-hole hitter Brooke Smith hit a leadoff single.

Gordon then made what might have been a run-saving play when she made a diving, parallel to the ground, catch of a Brandy Wallace line drive. Routine outs at third and left field followed to leave the Cardinals scoreless in the top of the seventh.

Beebe’s half of the inning also got off to a great start when nine-hole hitter Lexi Devore reached on an error at second base. Farmington intentionally walked Gordon for the third-straight time. Halford then singled to load the bases, and Haley Dinapoli hit a two-RBI single that tied the game and left runners on the corners.

Aleighu Porterfield then made the first out, and simultaneously drove in the winning run when a deep fly ball to center field scored Halford for the victory.

“I think this game is the best we’ve done all year as far as not getting down when we could’ve gotten down, and just kept plugging,” said BHS coach Eric Chambers.

In Friday’s semifinal game, Beebe hit the ball hard in the first inning off DeQueen hurler Josie Vaught. The first three batters, Gordon, Halford and Dinapoli, each hit hard and deep line drives, but each went almost directly to each of the three outfielders for a 1-2-3 inning.

After that, Beebe struggled with Vaught’s rising fastball and seamless change-up. The Lady Badgers struck out 11 times, and only got one ground ball the entire game. Every other out was a fly ball.

Beebe wasn’t without base runners or scoring opportunities. Vaught walked two in the second inning, but then got two strikeouts to get out of the jam. She retired the side in order over the next three innings, including five-straight strikeouts at one point.

The Lady Leopards scored on a double, a walk and a two-RBI, two-out single in the bottom of the second. They added to that lead two unearned runs thanks to two Beebe errors in the fifth that made it 4-0.

Beebe got a little momentum going in the top of the sixth. Gordon annihilated Vaught’s first offering in the sixth inning, hitting a line drive over the scoreboard in left field. Halford followed that with a hard line drive single to left and Dinapoli was hit by a pitch. But Vaught fanned Porterfield and got Shanie Young to ground out to second base to end the threat.

DeQueen then added two insurance runs to its lead in the bottom half on a hit batter, an RBI double and an RBI single to set the final margin.

Beebe finishes the season 16-12 while DeQueen improves to 22-6 and advances to today’s semifinal game against Vilonia. The other semifinal will be Jacksonville vs. Greenbrier.