Friday, April 15, 2016

EDITORIAL >> Farrer goes the distance

Rep. Joe Farrer (R-Austin) has seen the light: Farrer, who previously opposed expanding Medicaid for 265,000 poor Arkansans, now says he will vote for Arkansas Works, the governor’s version of the so-called private option.

“It’s all in the math,” Farrer told The Leader on Tuesday. Rejecting the bill will mean a $350 million hole in the state’s budget for 2018. Expect huge cuts for education, highways and other programs if Arkansas Works, which is almost entirely funded by the federal government, is rejected.

Farrer voted against the private option three years ago, when the costs and benefits were hypothetical, he said. “Now it’s a business decision. I’m supporting it to help get the money,” said Farrer, who was previously chief executive officer at North Metro Medical Center and is now in private practice as a physical therapist.

He said that 70 percent of all births in the state are Medicaid births, and they need to be paid for. Without Arkansas Works, costs for traditional Medicaid would go up 6 to 8 percent. The cost of indigent care would rise dramatically.

Funding Arkansas Works requires a supermajority — 75 percent — in both chambers. In the House, that’s 75 votes. In the Senate, with 35 members, that’s 27 votes. Farrer is a key swing vote in the House, where the bill has enough support for passage, but it still lacks a supermajority in the Senate.

Rep. Camille Bennett (D-Lonoke) says there’s nothing the General Assembly can do to change the Affordable Care Act. Arkansans will to have to pay for indigent care without it, so they might as well take the money from Washington and fund Arkansas Works. Tell your legislators to vote yes.

TOP STORY >> Alderman is arrested

Beebe Alderman David Lee Pruitt, 57, was arrested Friday for voting twice in the March primary.

White County sheriff’s deputies arrested Pruitt for violating state election law. White County Circuit Judge Robert Edwards signed the arrest warrant Monday. The violation a class D felony.

Pruitt is accused of voting on Feb. 26 and on March 1. White County Election Commission chairman Lester Allen filed a complaint with the prosecutor’s office after a review of the ballots indicated Pruitt voted twice.

Prosecutor Rebecca Reed-McCoy notified the Beebe police chief on March 14 about the suspected violation. Ballew informed Mayor Mike Robertson and ordered an investigation.

Pruitt was released on a $2,500 bond. Pruitt, who is in his first term, was elected alderman in Ward 1 in 2014.

TOP STORY >> Rally supports victims of crime

Leader staff writer

Lonoke County Crime Victims’ Rights Week was recognized on Wednesday with a ceremony at the Lonoke County Courthouse.

Lonoke County Prosecutor Chuck Graham said the event was held to promote victims’ rights, honor victims of crime and to recognize those who advocate on their behalf.

Graham said one of the biggest issues making news around the nation and the state is that there are too many people in jail and nonviolent offenders should be let out.

“How many people have had their house broken into? Do they consider that a nonviolent offense? It is one of the most violent offenses that can happen to a person,” he said.

Lonoke County Circuit Court Judge Barbara Elmore said, “Home is the one place you go in your life where you go to be alone and be safe.”

Graham said, “We need to be talking to our elected officials and tell them, ‘No.’ You can’t let those folk out. They are violent criminals. We can’t keep re-releasing these people because it is cost effective. How do you measure when someone breaks into your house or kills a family member? We’ve got to get these predators away from our kids and the elderly.”

Elmore gave tips on how not to become a victim. She said beware of strangers and contractors who do not do what they say they’ll do. Don’t post on Facebook that you are going on vacation—a home invader might be looking.

She said parents should know all of their children’s passwords when they are in cyberspace.

“We have a lot of children that are marketed. We have cases in this county where mothers have tried to sell their children for drugs for a $1,000. Trafficking is alive and well in Lonoke County. It’s happened here in the last three months,” Elmore said.

Elmore spoke about several agencies in Lonoke County that help victims: The Department of Human Services helps children who are abused and the elderly who are forgotten, neglected and harmed by a family member or caretaker; the Wade Knox Child Advocacy Center, Court Appointed Special Advocates of Lonoke County, Lonoke County Safe Haven, the prosecutor’s office, the Open Arms Shelter, and the Lonoke Exceptional Development Center, which has occupational therapy to help children of parents who have abused drugs or alcohol.

Elmore said if you do not know who to call about abuse, contact DHS or law enforcement. They are the first responders to abusive situations.

“Sometimes it is a shot that rings out that destroys a family, sometimes it is horrendous things that happen to children, and they die. But whatever it is, there is someone here that wants to help you,” she said.

“We have some children that are hurt and some die because parents who are on drugs say there are no victims. These children are the silent victims because a lot of them are dead,” Elmore said.

“If you look behind the closed door we’ve got domestic abuse, battery and assault. We’ve got people fighting in front of kids and the kids have to go to the doctor because they are so shaken up they don’t know what to do. They are screaming and hollering at school. The teachers don’t know what’s wrong with them, because they don’t know their family life. It has to be brought forward. Sometimes it’s children at school telling their teacher and the teacher reporting it,” Elmore said.

There are court orders of protection that law enforcement can get to help make people living there feel safe.

“We can’t hide our head in the sand anymore. I took over January 2011, and we’re getting ready to file our seventh capital murder case since that time. It is getting worse. It ranges from poverty to $400,000 homes,” Graham said.

Elmore said it takes a village of people to take care of one victim in a case.

She said victims are scared when they are involved in the court systems. They have to testify and then there is the parole system for people in jail wanting to get out.

Graham said the Lonoke County Master Gardeners program is working on the courthouse grounds to have some quiet area with benches and rose bushes for families dealing with crimes and trials can get away and have some space.

TOP STORY >> Pat Wilson given enterprise award

Larry Wilson of Jacksonville holds a plaque presented to his family in Little Rock on Tuesday in honor of his father, Pat Wilson, founder of Jacksonville State Bank, now known as First Arkansas Bank and Trust. 
Leader staff writer

Without the sale of a cow, there might not have been a Little Rock Air Force Base, a Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce and the city instead of pushing 30,000 in population might still be a sleepy hamlet with no water, sewer or electricity.

It was the sale of a prized family cow that allowed Kenneth Pat Wilson, better known as just Pat Wilson, the founder of Jacksonville State Bank, to go to college. The cow covered the tuition, but the rest of college was paid for by Wilson working three jobs.

Wilson, along with two other economic stalwarts who helped put Arkansas on the map, were honored posthumously Tuesday.

Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller, Wilson and Mike Wilson (no relation to Pat) of Osceola (Mississippi County) were honored with the “Leadership in Free Enterprise” award by Economics Arkansas.

More than 500 friends, family members and those in the financial and education community attended the awards luncheon at the Marriott Hotel in Little Rock.

Family members of the three men accepted the honor.

“Wow,” said Wilson’s son, Larry Wilson, president of First Arkansas Bank and Trust, accepting the award honoring his dad.

“My dad was always interested in lifting all boats in the economic ocean,” Larry Wilson said. “A better leader and promoter of Jacksonville, the military and Arkansas, you wouldn’t find anywhere.”

Kenneth Pat Wilson (1919-2002) was founder and president of First Jacksonville Bank and Trust, now known as First Arkansas Bank and Trust.

Wilson organized Jacksonville State Bank in 1949 so that his home town would have a bank, plus he didn’t like the fact it took him almost half a day to travel to Little Rock for his banking needs.

That institution later became First Jacksonville Bank and Trust and then First Arkansas Bank.

“The bank was an extension of his family,” Larry Wilson said.

His father’s loyalty to his roots went beyond building a bank. Always a driving force, he wanted his community to be the best place to work and raise a family. Throughout his life, he was dedicated to Jacksonville’s economic growth, civic services and educational resources. His vision and energy helped boost the population from 400 to more than 30,000.

Among his notable accomplishments was his work on the Pulaski County Committee of 100 to bring the Little Rock Air Force Base to Jacksonville. Wilson also organized the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce and lead efforts for Jacksonville to become the site of Little Rock Air Force Base.

Wilson’s life is a lesson of earned success through a combination of hard work, ambition and community service, according to Bob Hamilton of Digital Benefit Advisors, who gave the award to Larry Wilson.

“Grandpa would have been proud (of the award),” said Larry’s son, Mark, adding that all nine of Wilson’s grandchildren went to college “and we all took accounting and finance courses no matter what our major was. He was always thinking long term and education was a biggie.”

Another of Wilson’s concerns was industrial development. He served as president of the Jacksonville Industrial Corporation. He helped bring manufacturing facilities to the area, including Arkansas Hairworks, Standard Rendering and Reasor-Hill Corp.

In 1952, Wilson worked with others to bring an air base to the city. He helped raise $1.2 million to buy the 6,500 acres needed, an acquisition that included the Wilson family’s 1860 homestead property.

His other contributions to the community included building the Jacksonville Shopping Center in 1957 and organizing the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce in 1947. During his 30 years with the chamber, he helped acquire 23 new manufacturing companies, employing 3,000 in Jacksonville.

Wilson’s legacy of economic education is carried on through his family, who in 2004 established the Kenneth Pat Wilson Center for Economic Education at UALR.

First Arkansas Bank and Trust also supports Economics Arkansas through the Arkansas Bankers Association Campaign, plus the family has provided scholarships for Jacksonville students to receive hands-on experience with the stock market through a program by Economics Arkansas.

The family continues to serve the state as leaders of free enterprise and champions for economic education.

TOP STORY >> High performances recognized

Leader staff writer

Schools in Cabot, Beebe, Searcy and Jacksonville were among those in the state that are divvying up more than $7 million because of their outstanding academic performances and growth in 2015.

Schools in the top 5 percent are receiving $100 per student. Schools in the Top 10 percent are netting $50 per student. This program is unique in distributing funding directly to schools, as opposed to the district level.

“This is the second consecutive year that we are one of the highest rewarded districts in Arkansas. There are just a lot of good things happening in Cabot schools,” said Dr. Tony Thurman, superintendent of Cabot schools.

“We have made the decision that the reward funds will go back into doing good things for kids. We will purchase Chromebooks and iPads for students using these funds,” Thurman said.

Area schools honored with the Top 5 Percent Growth award include Beebe Junior High, Cabot Middle School South, Jacksonville Lighthouse’s Flightline Upper Academy and Searcy’s Ahlf Junior High School. Beebe is set to receive $44,720; Middle School South will get $71,249; the Lighthouse school will receive $18,625, and Ahlf Junior High will net $63,722.

In the Top 10 percent growth category are Stage-coach Elementary in Cabot, Jacksonville Lighthouse Middle School, Jacksonville Lighthouse’s College Prep Academy, Lisa Academy North Middle School, along with Westside Elementary and Southwest Middle School, both in Searcy.

Stagecoach will net $22,767; the Lighthouse middle school will get $9,969 and the College Prep Academy will receive $10,650; Lisa Academy is set to get $10,540; Westside Elementary will net$25,057; and $43,597 will go to Southwest Middle School.

Flightline Academy is set to get $10,540. In Searcy, Westside Elementary will net $25,057 and $43,597 will go to Southwest Middle School.

Local attorney and Light-house supporter Mike Wilson said he’s gratified with the news about the charter schools. “The parents should be very happy with the progress of those schools. It shows what we can do when the community, teachers, parents and kids join forces,” he said.

In Cabot, Southside Elementary, Stagecoach Elementary (again) and the Freshman Academy all received the Top 10 percent Performance Award. Southside will be receiving $22,478; Stagecoach will net another $22,767; and the freshman school will get $37,493.

In all, about 175 schools out of 1,000-plus across the state are sharing in the rewards established by Act 1429 in 2013. Then-state Sen. Johnny Key of Mountain Home, who is now the state education commissioner, filed the act.

SPORTS STORY >> Jackrabbits no-hit two opponents

Leader sports editor

Four different Lonoke players reached base on every at-bat as the Jackrabbit baseball team won a three-inning, 24-0, rout at Helena-West Helena Central on Wednesday in a 4A-2 Conference matchup. The very next day, the Jackrabbits traveled to Newport for another easy win, beating the Greyhounds 13-1 to improve to 10-6 overall and remain perfect in conference at 6-0.

Savonte Rountree went 4 for 4, Casey Martin and Gabe Rooney went 3 for 3 with one walk and Haven Hunter went 2 for 2 with two base-on-balls to lead the offensive firestorm at HWHC. Meanwhile, Keith Lingo faced the minimum nine batters in throwing a no-hit shutout over three innings.

Lonoke only had two extra-base hits, one by Hunter and one by Martin, but could have had many more. Once the game was out of hand, Lonoke coach Darrick Lowery resorted to stopping players from advancing more than one base no matter where the ball was on the field.

On Thursday, it was Lingo’s bat that highlighted the offense. He hit a three-run home run in the top of the second inning and drove in another run later in the game to finish with four RBIs. Hunter and Kade Stuart combined to throw Lonoke’s second no-hitter of the week.

Hunter threw four innings with three strikeouts and one walk.

Newport’s lone run was unearned after a walk, a dropped third strike, a mishandled throw to first and a sacrifice grounder. Stuart struck out the side in order in the bottom of the fifth to close the show on the 10-after-5-mercy rule.

Tallon Swint went 3 for 3 with three RBIs and two runs scored. Caleb Horton went 3 for 4 with two runs batted in. Martin, Rountree, Stuart and Kameron Cole all had two base hits.

The Jackrabbits complete their league schedule next week by hosting Central Arkansas Christian on Monday and playing eStem in Little Rock on Thursday.

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Bears win in Little Rock

Leader sports editor

The girls’ division of the Little Rock School District High School Invitational track meet quickly became a two-horse race Thursday, and it was the Sylvan Hills Lady Bears who prevailed over the Parkview Lady Patriots by a final tally of 209 to 186.5. Little Rock Central was a distant third with 66 points. Watson Chapel finished fourth with 58.50, Hall High scored 43, McClellan totaled 20 and Dumas rounded out the seven-team field with four points.

“It was a pretty good little meet,” said Sylvan Hills coach Grover Garrison. “It was pretty small so it wasn’t anything special, but we had a few girls PR, and we have some freshmen that are really coming along.”

Sa’Maya Farmer got Sylvan Hills’ first win of the meet with an impressive personal record, her second of the season. In the fourth event of the night, Farmer out-did her previous best shot put by almost three feet, winning the event with a toss of 37-feet, 3-inches.

Parkview’s Kiarra Harris was second, and Sylvan Hills’ Raigen Thomas finished third with a personal best throw of 35-01.

Sylvan Hills did even better in the discus, taking three of thetop four spots. Sierra Towles won with a fling of 89-01, while Jayla Bell threw the saucer 85-11. Parkview’s Jessica Williams was third at 85-03, and Sylvan Hills freshman Andrea Dolphin was fourth at 72-10.

Sylvan Hills’ 4x800 relay team was all freshmen and they won the event. Ashley Jefferson, Dadreuna Taylor, Precious Boyd and Daveiuna Jones beat second place Hall by 28 seconds with a time of 11:23.76.

Middle distance runner Chloe George won the 1,600 with a time of 6:01.31 to lead a trio of Lady Bears in the top three. Allysia Marbley and Marta Miguel finished second and third. George also won an exciting 800-meter race, as she edged out Watson Chapel’s Yasmin Jackson by just .27 seconds. Jones was third in that event and Taylor finished sixth.

Sylvan Hills also swept the top two spots and three of the top five in the 3,200. Gabriella Marquez won with a time of 15:07.62. Miguel was second and Elizabeth Horn finished fifth.

Jefferson won the 400-meter dash with a personal record time of 1:03.09 to beat Parkview’s Alexus Phillips by more than three seconds. Lady Bears Mya Graham and Skyla Williams were third and seventh respectively.

George, O’Shayla Muldrow, Erykah Sanders and Makayla Smith finished second in the 4x400 relay behind a Parkview team led by the meet’s high point getter Jada Baylark. Baylark also won the 100- and 200-meter dashes, and the 100-meter hurdles.

Muldrow, another freshman, was third in the 200-meter dash while Aliya Hatton finished fourth and Ayana Harris was sixth.

Makayla Smith was second behind Parkview’s Johnaya Givens in the 300-meter hurdles while Sanders took fourth in that event.

Central won the 4x100 by a fraction of a second. Harris, Hatton, Smith and Muldrow took second with a time of 51.17. Hatton was also third in the 100-meter dash while Muldrow was eighth. Smith took second behind Baylark in the 100 hurdles while Sanders was sixth.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot softball stays perfect in East

Leader sportswriter

The Lady Panther softball team displayed a vulgar level of power on Thursday, slamming five home runs in a pair of 7A/6A-East victories in a conference doubleheader at home against Jonesboro. The Lady Panthers hammered the Hurricanes 11-1 in the first game and won the much more competitive nightcap by the final score of 6-2.

Cabot (11-2, 8-0) ended the first game after five innings, scoring at least two runs every at-bat. But the Lady Panthers didn’t score as early and often in game two. The first two innings of the nightcap were scoreless, but the Lady Panthers scored one run in the top of the third to take a 1-0 lead over Jonesboro (11-8, 5-3).

Rachel Allgood led off the third inning with a double to the left-field fence, and she scored four batters later on a two out, RBI single by Southern Mississippi signee Heather Hill. The score remained 1-0 until the sixth inning, when the hosts added two more runs to their side of the board.

On the first pitch of the sixth inning, catcher Kaitlyn Felder hit a towering solo home run that sailed over the fence in left field and eventually landed in the gravel area behind the softball field. Felder’s monstrous solo shot gave the Lady Panthers a 2-0 cushion, and Macee Abbott scored Cabot’s third run on a two-out single to left field by Bethany Knowles.

Pitcher Lauren McCluskey threw another shutout inning in the bottom of the sixth, and Cabot added three insurance runs in the top of the seventh to further its lead to 6-0. On the fifth pitch of the seventh inning, Hill hit a solo home run of her own to up the CHS lead to 4-0.

Hannah Montgomery, who had two home runs and six RBIs in game one, was hit by a pitch after Hill’s homer, and she scored two batters later on Felder’s second home run of game two, setting Cabot’s run total for the evening.

Jonesboro’s two runs came off of a two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh, but consecutive groundouts of 1-3, 6-3 and 4-3 followed, ending the game and giving the Lady Panthers their fourth conference sweep of the season in as many tries.

“At times we had opportunities early in the second game to put it away, but we didn’t,” said Cabot coach Chris Cope. “It’s tough playing two seven-inning games, especially on pitchers. But hey, we hung through and we found a way to win. We pushed some runs across late and took care of business.”

McCluskey continued her recent dominance in the circle. She pitched the first four innings of game one Thursday before being relieved by Montgomery in the fifth. McCluskey gave up just two hits, one walk and finished with five strikeouts in the first game.

In the nightcap, she threw all seven innings, giving up four hits and only one walk while recording three strikeouts.

On top of McCluskey’s stellar pitching performance, the defense had no errors in the two games played.

“She lets our team play,” Cope said of McCluskey, “and this is probably our first error-free game in a while. So we’re getting better.”

Felder, Hill and Knowles led Cabot at the plate in game two with two hits apiece. Allgood went 3 for 3 for the Lady Panthers in the first game, and in addition to Montgomery going 2 for 2 in that game, so did Felder.

McCluskey was just as dominant in the pitching circle on Wednesday, throwing a no-hitter in a 15-0 nonconference road win over Sylvan Hills at Sherwood Sports Complex.

Cabot’s 13 hits combined with two Lady Bear errors helped lead to the ending on the sportsmanship rule. Last Friday, McCluskey threw a pair of one-hit shutouts in a doubleheader sweep at Mountain Home.

McCluskey only fanned four Sylvan Hills batters, but got great defensive support from her teammates, who committed no errors.

Offensively, every member of the Cabot starting lineup got at least one hit while Parker Steadman and Hannah Montgomery each went yard. Montgomery went 2 for 2 with a walk, two runs scored and six RBIs. Knowles, Hill and McCluskey each got two base hits as well.

Montgomery’s home run came with the bases loaded in the top of the third, and the grand slam set the final margin. McCluskey capitalized on the momentum when she took the circle in the bottom half of the third, ringing up three of her four strikeouts in order to end the game.

SPORTS STORY >> Badgers win final two for top spot

Leader sports editor

A fantastic finish and a state record falling highlighted an exciting Beebe Badger Relays on Tuesday at Bro Erwin Stadium.

The Beebe boys’ track team trailed Cabot 95-83 with two events remaining, but after Beebe’s Gus McCoy won the 3,200-meter race and Sean Langley finished fourth, the Badgers trailed just 98-87 going into the final event, the 4x400-meter relay. Cabot’s Ben Hicks was sixth for the Panthers’ three points in the event.

Cabot had the best seedtime by six seconds in the relay, but didn’t enter its fastest team and had a bad race to finish sixth.

The Badgers’ team of John Carter, John Paul Savage, Connor Patrom and Keishun Davidson won the event and the Badgers won the meet, outscoring the Panthers 107-101 for first place.

“I’d say that’s a pretty good win for us,” said Beebe boys’ track coach Mark Pinkerton. “It was the first meet where we had everybody and we were able to put a pretty good lineup together. I know Cabot didn’t put all their best guys in all their best events. We do that sometimes trying to get some others qualified for state or just giving guys a chance to see what they can do. But still I thought we had a strong meet. We have some guys that are really coming on strong for us.”

Jacksonville Lighthouse finished 15th out of 23 schools, but senior sprinter Jordan McNair continued his impressive career by breaking his own Class 1A record in the 100-meter dash, running an 11.00 to win the event and break the old record he set at the 1A state meet last year of 11.08.

“I’m not totally satisfied with that race,” said McNair. “I didn’t feel like I got off the blocks like I should have. I finished strong, though. There were some fast guys in the race pushing me, and that always helps. It feels good to break the record again.”

McNair wasn’t the only one in the race with a blazing time. McNair won the race with a longer lean than the shorter Logan Penn of Hazen, who finished in 11.01. Dardanelle’s Chris Kershner was third and McNair’s teammate Robert Whitfield finished fourth with an 11.20.

“We felt like, going in, it was a good day to break a record,” said Lighthouse coach Kelvin Parker. “We knew he’d have to run one of his best times to beat the kid from Hazen, so we were expecting a fast race and thought he might get it.”

Beebe’s Trip Smith finished sixth with a personal record of 11.34, and drew praise from Pinkerton.

“He’s having a phenomenal season,” Pinkerton said of Smith. “He’s lost about 15 or 20 pounds and he’s getting faster and faster with every meet.”

Smith won the 300-meter hurdles with a personal record 42.32, beating Des Arc’s Dillon Conway and teammate Logan Archer, who were second and third respectively. Connor Daigle of Cabot was sixth.

Patrom edged out McNair in an exciting 200-meter dash. Patrom’s time of 22.85 beat McNair by a mere .03 seconds. Cabot’s Britton Alley and Whitfield were right there with the leaders, each finishing under 23 seconds at 22.90 and 22.98.

Cabot almost swept the jumping events, winning the high jump, long jump and pole vault, and taking second in the triple jump. Jarrod Barnes didn’t quite reach his school record-breaking jump of 22-feet he reached last week, but still won the event with a leap of 21-2. McNair took fourth at 19-2 and Jacksonville High’s Marcus Casey was seventh with a leap of 18-8. Barnes also finished second behind Conway in the triple jump. Conway went 43-6 and Barnes 42-7.

Rocky Burke won the pole vault, going 12-6 while Beebe’s Isaiah Hutson jumped 10-6 to finish fifth.

Cabot’s Matt Stanley won the high jump, matching his personal record of 6-5 on his last attempt. He and Bald Knob’s Mark Byers were the last two standing after each cleared 6-4 on their first attempts, but Byers was unable to clear the 6-5 mark.

Cabot’s Brandon Jones won the discus throw at 140-8, while teammate Mark Odom was third with a toss of 120-10. Jacksonville’s Terry Brown was fifth in that event and Beebe’s Reese Anders took sixth.

Cabot’s team of Barnes, Connor Daigle, Alex Roberts and Hillegas won the 4x100-meter relay with a time of 44.36 while Beebe took third and Lighthouse fifth. The Wolves had high hopes for the event but fell behind with a bad handoff on the first exchange.

Hillegas won the 400-meter dash while Davidson was third for Beebe and Landon Vaught of Cabot took fifth.

Smith took second behind Conway in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 16.41 and Patrom was sixth. Alley finished fourth and Whitfield fifth for Lighthouse.

Before winning the crucial 3,200, McCoy took third in the 1,600.

Beebe finished second in the 4x800-meter relay.

Abundant Life’s Daniel Carrell won the 800-meter race by less than a second with a time of 2:08.88. Savage was third for Beebe and teammate Logan Brown was fifth.

Jacksonville’s Malcolm Nelson was between them in fourth place with a time of 2:13.02.

SPORTS STORY >> Second game rally lifts JHS to sweep at PA

Leader sportswriter

The Jacksonville baseball team has seen its share of tough breaks this season, but has improved as the season’s progressed. That improvement showed in Tuesday’s 5A-Central doubleheader against Pulaski Academy, as the Red Devils swept the Bruins by scores of 8-0 and 10-5 at Wildwood Park in west Little Rock.

Jacksonville (7-12, 5-3) cruised in game one of the twin bill behind nine hits and a complete game shutout performance on the mound by Brandon Hawkins. In the nightcap, Pulaski Academy (8-9, 3-3) jumped out to an early lead, but the Red Devils answered with a six-run fourth inning and held off PA’s late rally to earn the conference sweep.

Jacksonville took advantage of several PA errors in each game, but when the Bruins responded in game two with two quick runs in the first inning before adding three more in the fifth, JHS coach Larry Burrows was proud of the way his team responded, especially when the Bruins had that three-run fifth inning.

“That’s what I’ve been telling them, just keep going,” said Burrows. “They had a two-run inning and three-run inning, but that three-run inning could’ve been worse. In the past, that could’ve turned into a five spot or an eight spot.

“When things weren’t going our way, we held it to a three spot, and that was huge to do that. That’s what I told them. We’ve went through some heartache, but it doesn’t need to be for nothing. We need to just keep getting tougher and I think we showed a little bit of that tonight.”

Jacksonville played as the home team in game two of the league doubleheader. Pulaski Academy took an early lead with a two-run home run over the left-field fence off the bat of three-hole hitter Caden Haws in the top of the first inning.

The Red Devils answered with one run in the bottom of the first on an RBI ground-rule double by Caleb McMunn, and the score remained 2-1 PA until the fourth inning, when JHS reeled off six runs.

Game two starting pitcher Brandon Hickingbotham led off the bottom of the fourth with a standup double to center field. Wesley Williams came in to run for Hickingbotham. He advanced to third base on a sac fly to right center by Caden Sample, and scored the game-tying run on a Javan Wakefield double to the wall in left center.

Wakefield scored the go-ahead run on Caleb Smith’s double to the left-field wall the next at-bat. Jordan Wickersham was then hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second. Tyson Flowers hit into a force out at third base the following at-bat, but Kam Whitmore lined one off the left fielder’s glove to score Wickersham and Flowers and give JHS a 5-2 cushion.

Whitmore went to second base on that play, and advanced to third on a passed ball with two-hole hitter Mike Havard at the plate. Havard walked that at-bat, and advanced to second base on a wild pitch. Whitmore scored from third on the wild pitch, giving JHS a 6-2 lead.

Havard then scored on a single to right field by Trent Toney, capping the six-run fourth inning. The Bruins added their three runs in the fifth to make it a 7-5 game, but Jacksonville responded with three runs of its own in the sixth.

In that inning, JHS scored runs eight and nine on a Toney single to left field. Whitmore and Havard scored on the play, and a scary moment occurred as Havard crossed the plate.

Havard was able to score all the way from first base because of an errant throw home from left field. As the ball sailed over the PA catcher’s head and to the backstop, Havard came home and after he had crossed the plate, the throw from the backstop hit the home plate umpire in the side of his head. He took a few wobbly steps before falling to the ground.

He was helped off the field a few minutes later and appeared to be doing relatively OK after about a 15-minute delay, but couldn’t continue. The field umpire then moved behind the plate to close the game.

When play resumed, Toney advanced to third base on a passed ball and scored on a 4-3 groundout by Hickingbotham to set the final score. Hickingbotham then retired the side in the top of the seventh to give the Red Devils the conference sweep.

Jacksonville outhit Pulaski Academy 10-6 in game two. Toney was the only player with multiple hits in that game, finishing 2 for 3 with three RBIs. Hickingbotham threw all seven innings, finishing with four strikeouts.

The Red Devils’ first four runs of game one were unearned. They scored two in the first inning before adding one each in the second, third and fourth innings to lead 5-0. Jacksonville’s fifth run was scored on a Havard sac fly to left field. Whitmore scored on the play. He singled the previous at-bat before stealing second base and advancing to third on a passed ball.

Jacksonville didn’t score in the fifth, but added another run in the sixth before reeling off two more in the seventh to set the final score. The Devils outhit the Bruins 9-4 in the first game. Pulaski Academy had five errors in the first game and four in game two. Jacksonville had four errors in the two games combined.

Havard and PA’s Thomas Wheelis were the only players with multiple hits in game one. Havard was 2 for 2 with a run scored and two RBIs. Wheelis was 2 for 3 with a pair of singles. Hawkins finished with eight strikeouts in his seven innings of work.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

EDITORIAL >> Arkansas held hostage

The Arkansas legislature will return to the capital today for what was supposed to be 30 days of routine roll calls to rubberstamp budget acts. Now, thanks to two disparate gentlemen—Barack Obama and Asa Hutchinson—it looms as the most momentous legislative session since the state’s historic racial crisis 60 years ago.

So much rides on it: the physical wellbeing of nearly a million citizens who depend on some federal and state help to insure their medical care, the state government’s fiscal soundness, the economic well-being of a whole state that has finally soared out of the great recession, Arkansas’ ebbing highway and street-repair programs, Gov. Hutchinson’s political future . . . You get the picture.

All of that depends on one part of only one of the 800 appropriation bills the legislature adopts each year. It is Hutchinson’s Arkansas Works program, which provides subsidized insurance to some 265,000 men and women whose earnings are so small they cannot afford the big monthly premiums of regular health insurance or medical care outside hospital emergency rooms, which must treat them whether they can pay or not.

Until last week, Arkansas Works was called the Private Option or more commonly just Obamacare. The Private Option was the name applied to the expansion of Medicaid to poor working adults, one of the major features of the Affordable Care Act of 2010, aka Obamacare, but Hutchinson thought he needed to doctor the program some so that people would no longer associate it with the unpopular president. The legislature—all the Democrats and many Republicans—went along and reauthorized the old program with a new name by huge margins in both houses.

But not three-fourths of them, which the legislature by common practice since 1935 has considered necessary (wrongly, we think) to pass most appropriation bills. Nine of the 35 senators, all tea-party Republicans, vow they will vote against the appropriation of all federal and state Medicaid funds for the year that starts July 1, which includes money for Arkansas Works, to show how much they despise Barack Obama and everything associated with him. They have the power to thwart the will of the other 126 lawmakers and the governor. They all owe their offices to their campaigns against the black president and his health law. The Arkansas congressional delegation—all six of them—have the same political debt. They vote regularly to repeal Obamacare, refuse to confirm his nominees for federal jobs and oppose everything he and the regulatory agencies under his command propose to do.

Conservative legislators from Northwest Arkansas who voted for Arkansas Works and will now vote for the Medicaid appropriation confided at the Capitol last week how politically perilous their own votes were. Too many people back home were inured to the notion that Obama’s health law was a dastardly communist plot that will bankrupt the state and the country and that the 265,000 beneficiaries of Arkansas Works and the 800,000 children, disabled and elderly who receive Medicaid assistance or their family members are shiftless and undeserving of any help paying their medical bills or insurance. The Koch brothers, the oil and manufacturing barons who have amassed a net worth of a hundred billion dollars with federal subsidies of one sort or another, had their political arm put out a statement yesterday cheering the legislators who are determined to end help to the poorest 40 percent of Arkansans. The brothers had helped elect them.

It was quite a sight on the legislative floor last week: Rep. Charlie Collins and Sen. Jim Hendren, both right-wing Republicans, pleading with the handful of foes and with their own constituents back home to understand that the Medicaid program and Obamacare (which they nevertheless hate) actually reduce federal budget deficits and improve rather than undermine the state’s fiscal condition, now and for as long into the future as they can see.

But their pleas fell on deaf ears. Hutchinson at least grasped that when he was running for governor in 2014 and, unlike nearly all other Republican politicians, would not condemn the “private option” and promise to scrap it. Since then, he has made the case over and over that if the legislature ends the program it will decimate the state’s budget, force massive cuts in services all over the state, throw thousands out of jobs, and undermine the health of a quarter-million of the neediest people.

If the whole Medicaid program is ended, nursing homes and all the centers for the mentally and physically disabled will be closed, regional mental health services will be halted. If that happens, the nine senators who caused it will experience the wrath of their neighbors and friends who for the first time will understand what it was all about. Those ne’er-do-wells who wanted a handout were they.

Hutchinson pulled out all the plugs yesterday. Everybody wants a highway program but without paying taxes for it. Hutchinson plans a special session next month to carve away some general revenues and future surpluses to match $200 billion in federal highway and street aid the next few years without levying taxes. If the Medicaid expansion goes down, he said, there will be no special session and no highway program.

All hands will have to come aboard to save the sinking ship of state. He didn’t dare mention another good Republican who left office last fall cursed for consciously taking Louisiana down the same path the nine lawmakers are mapping for Arkansas. Hutchinson is determined not to be another Bobby Jindal. Wish him well. —Ernie Dumas

TOP STORY >> Honoring Muttons’ lifetime of service

George Mutton and his wife, Mary Mutton, right, were honored April 2 with a “Celebration of Legacy” for their 51 years of service to the Life Tabernacle Pentecostal Church. Also pictured is their daughter, J’Laine Mutton Bradley. George Mutton is holding an Arkansas Senate citation presented by Sen. Eddie Joe Williams (R-Cabot).
Leader staff writer

It takes a lifetime to build a legacy. Some are larger than others and some reach farther.

Last week, George Mutton, now 85, was given some measure of his decades long, unwavering service to God and church.

George Mutton of the Warsaw community thought he heard God’s calling while in his late teens, and he mentioned that fact to a Baptist preacher while attending a revival at Bayou Meto.

Mutton remembers saying, “I told him that someday I’m going to be a preacher.”

The older man told Mutton, “‘Well, you probably need to get baptized first.’”

He did, but it was at the First Buckeye Pentecostal Church (now First Pentecostal Church on Calvary Road in North Little Rock).

It was a couple years before a teenager named Mary Jackson (now Mutton) caught his eye.

They had both lived on Republican Road their entire lives but on opposite sides of Hwy. 107. As kids they rode the same school bus, but Mary Mutton remembers, “I didn’t pay much attention to him;” after all, she adds, “He was five years older than me.”

But by the time Mary turned 16, they were dating. Then Mutton got an invitation from Uncle Sam.

“I was drafted into the Marines,” he says. That was in 1951, and he served for two years in the Korean War.

Before shipping out, he asked Mary Mutton to marry him and she said yes.

Mutton says he learned an important lesson during his time in the military.

“It taught me that if you’re not going to finish it, don’t start it. But if you do, then do it right,” he says.

It was May 18, 1962, when the Lord instructed Mutton to start a church, he remembers.

The Life Tabernacle church became official in 1964, with services held in a century-old building in Faulkner Gap. Because the church was on a dirt road, driving was difficult during ice or snow.

“The weather was so bad in the wintertime that we bought a spot on Highway 107,” Mutton says.

The idea was to make it easier for members to get to and from but instead of the church taking on an unmanageable debt, they set up church in a prefabricated 25-foot-by-50-foot metal building they purchased from Sears and Roebuck for about $2,000, Mutton says. The year was 1972.

Mutton chuckles as he remembers, “It was designed for everything but a church,” but after a few modifications with a blowtorch, members settled in just fine.

At that time, Mary Mutton estimates they had about 50 members.

Later, the congregation would sell the metal building and build a proper church.

They built the sanctuary first, with members and Mutton doing as much of the work as possible. When it was completed, they only owed about $3,500 on the building—Mutton doesn’t like to carry too much debt, whether his own or the church’s.

“It wasn’t anything special,” Mutton says. Later, they added Sunday school classrooms to the rear of the building.

But no matter the construction materials, members found a home at Life Tabernacle, including Dist. 29 State Sen. Eddie “Joe” Williams (R-Cabot).

Williams says, “I have fond childhood memories of driving from Sheridan to have fellowship at George’s church…It was full of great people and the Muttons are certainly great people. They are big-hearted and giving.”


A pastor’s wife is as important to church life as the pastor, and Mary Mutton was more involved than most, says her husband.

She taught Sunday school classes and still plays the piano on Sunday morning, he says proudly.

For years, both George and Mary Mutton participated in a singing ministry, first with The Spiritualettes and then with the Sounds of Life.

She also taught adult education for the Little Rock School District.

Mutton says he teased his wife about the luncheons and dinners they hosted at the church, telling her, “You don’t have to cook the whole meal.”

She says in her defense, “I always wanted to make sure there was plenty for everyone.”

Mutton adds, “Pentecostals like to eat.”

Rebecca Adams has been a Life Tabernacle member for about 20 years and says about the Muttons, “They are the rock of the church. They’ve always been there and it comes from the heart.”

Donald Canon of Canon Heating and Air of Jacksonville and a Life Tabernacle member, has known the Muttons for about seven years.

“They’re very honest people, upstanding and trustworthy. They bring those same qualities to worship and to the church.”

Their only child, daughter J’Laine Bradley of the Warsaw community has great memories of growing up in the church and of her parents.

“I had their total love, guidance and support, and they taught me to live for the Lord…They were such good parents,” Bradley remembers.

She married Darrell Bradley but remains a Mutton at heart.

Now, Bradley has two grown children — a son, Dylan Bradley, and a daughter, Holly Bradley Martin, who is expecting her first child in a few weeks.


Mutton was a heating-and- air guy by day and a pastor by night and on weekends. Mary Mutton says, “He didn’t take a salary” from the church but instead provided for the family working for John B. May’s heating-and-air company.

May supported Mutton’s work at the church, and Mutton says, “He was so good to me, just like a father. If I needed to be off for any reason, a funeral, a hospital visit, he didn’t mind.”

Canon says, “George is someone you can depend on and he has a lot of wisdom to share.”

Bradley says about her dad, “He has a pastor’s heart.”

Current Life Tabernacle pastor Clyde Phillips agrees, telling the story about the time when he was injured in a motorcycle accident and hospitalized in Akron, Ohio.

Mutton paid his own travel expenses so he could wait by Phillips’ bedside for about a week. He says, “George has a good heart and he’s always been there for me.”

Phillips has been a church member for more than 30, first serving as assistant pastor, and after Mutton’s retirement two years ago, he became head pastor. The church is now more than 150 strong.

Mutton says he never regretted going into the ministry, “If you do something for the Lord, put your hand to the plow and don’t look back.”


“It was Brother Clyde’s idea to put a plaque on the front of the building in honor of my father,” Bradley says about the inspiration behind the church’s “Celebration of Legacy” and reception.

Bradley and several others from the church started planning and extending invitations to members and friends, including Sen. Williams, who decided to doubly honor Mutton at the April 2 gathering.

Williams says, “I wanted to honor him. George worked full time but unselfishly dedicated his life to the Lord. He was all about the church.”

Both he and Mary Mutton were honored by Williams’ Arkansas Senate Citation, which reads in part: “During their 64-year marriage, Rev. and Mrs. Mutton have worked as a devoted team touching many lives through their church ministry…and have been generous with their personal time…”

More than 150 guests attended. Bradley says, “I was so excited. People came from all over the state.”

In one sense, she says they celebrated the legacy of the church that her father helped build, but, Bradley adds, “The real celebration was my dad’s influence…He reached so many people, and now those people are reaching out to others. That’s his real legacy.”

Richard “Rick” Allen and his wife, Pat, attended the reception. Both have attended the church for more than three decades.

“It was just beautiful…Tears come to my eyes when I think of George. He is truly an outstanding man of God,” he says.

Phillips says, “I learned what it means to be a pastor from one of the best. I strive to be like George, but I’ll never be the man my pastor is.”

As a young man, Mutton didn’t realize all the rewards he would reap as a minister, but now says, “So many people count their blessings by what they possess but I count mine through the Lord and what he has given me through the church. I have so many blessings.”

TOP STORY >> Davis, Vietnam veteran, dies

 Leader staff writer

Lex Edward (Butch) Davis of Sherwood, a former alderman, Vietnam War veteran, a believer in the city and all around good guy, died on Monday at the age of 71.

He was among the first 15 inductees into the Arkansas Military Veterans Hall of Fame at the Agora Center in Conway and initiated the annual veterans parade in Sherwood, which is now in its sixth year.

“He was an incredible person,” said Marcia Cook, Sherwood Chamber of Commerce director. “Butch was involved in so many aspects of the city. He was a true asset and was always willing to help. We will miss him.”

Betty Barnhardt, director of Keep Sherwood Beautiful, said, “Butch never met someone he could not get along with, never let his handicap stand in the way of getting something done. He was most helpful and encouraging in his support of Keep Sherwood Beautiful. At each event we could count on his assistance taking extra supplies and water to our volunteers. He exemplified what a true friend is...always smiling and laughing.”

Davis, an Army sergeant, almost died in Vietnam in the summer of 1969 in a huge explosion that nearly wiped out his company. He was put on a rescue helicopter along with several dead soldiers heading for the morgue. He’d come to momentarily, hoping the chopper crew didn’t think he was dead.

“When the bomb hit me, it felt like a bell over my head. I knew I was hit. It got my whole left side,” he told The Leader in 2007.

His injuries spread all over his body, including his spinal cord, which wasn’t severed, though. “I was one of the last flown out. I was worried they thought I was dead,” he said.

When it exploded, it killed six and injured 28 G.I.s, along with several South Vietnamese out on patrol with the Americans. “There were enough casualties to fill a couple of helicopters,” Davis remembered.

Once he was in the helicopter, Davis was hoping the chopper crew would realize he was still alive. He’d open his eyes, and then closed them again.

“I couldn’t move,” Davis said. “I blacked out again for a while.”

Fortunately, he woke up in a hospital, and then was flown to another hospital in Japan. He received more treatment at the Veterans Hospital in Richmond, Va. Months of therapy followed. He was finally released in December 1969.

He lived the rest of his life with shrapnel in his neck.

He signed up for the Army when he was 16 — “I lied about my age,” he admitted — and was 24 years old when he was hit, and he’d been in pain for almost 47 years. You can only imagine his injuries — almost his whole body was ripped up, and he seemed disabled along much of his left side — but Davis never complained. He went on to have a long political career advancing Sherwood, the city that he loved.

For his 1969 Vietnam service, Davis earned a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and a Combat Infantryman’s Badge.

He will be known for his great attitude, laughter and helping others. Davis served 11 years as an alderman and did more volunteer work than most people half his age.

Despite his disability, Davis said, “I really enjoyed the military. I was going down the wrong path when I joined up.”

He was alderman from 1999 to 2010 and was also a VFW commander, a co-organizer of the Wheel Chair Olympics, Sherwood Volunteer of the Year, honorary commander of the Little Rock Air Force Base and an Arkansas National Guard Community Council member.

Alderman Marina Brooks called Davis her mentor. “He took me under his wing as an alderman. He truly was Mr. Sherwood. We will miss him,” she said.

His funeral will be held at 11:30 a.m. Monday, April 18 at Griffin Leggett Rest Hills Funeral Home with burial at 1 p.m. at North Little Rock Veterans Cemetery.

TOP STORY >> Cuts imperil programs all across state

Leader senior staff writer

With the fiscal session of the General Assembly convening today, several legislators have vowed to vote against funding Arkansas Works—that’s the governor’s version of the private option.

Failure to approve Arkansas Works will leave a gaping $150 million hole in the governor’s budget for 2017 and, according to state Rep. Joe Farrer (R-Austin), a $350 million hole for 2018 — leaving no money for highways and other essential programs.

“It’s all in the math,” Farrer said Tuesday.

Farrer, who previously opposed the private option, said he’s now for it.

He said he voted against the private option three years ago, when the costs and benefits were hypothetical.

“Now it’s a business decision. I’m supporting it to help get the money,” Farrer said.

He said that 70 percent of all births in the state are Medicaid births, and they need to be paid for. Without Arkansas Works, John Stephens, a health insurance consultant hired to assess the programs, says costs for traditional Medicaid would go up 6 to 8 percent.

“We paid him $2 million to give us the numbers, and he’s the only expert I know up here,” Farrer said.

Last session, both houses approved the Arkansas plan as policy by a simple majority, but funding matters require a supermajority—75 percent—of each house. In the House, that’s 75 votes, in the Senate, with 35 members, that’s 27 votes.

That means the Senate will likely need to turn at least two nays into yeas.

“I’m voting for the funding,” said Sen. Jane English (R-North Little Rock). Of her original opposition to Private Option/Arkansas Works, “I lost the battle in 2013, as a policy decision,” she said.

When it came time to fund the measure the first year, English provided the needed 27th vote in the Senate in exchange for comprehensive reorganization of workforce education.

“We have moved some people off traditional Medicaid, where the state paid 30 percent of the cost and onto Medicaid expansion,” she said, “where the state’s share this year is 0 percent, and next year 5 percent.

“We have a program going on two years, made a lot of changes, moved some people off traditional Medicaid where we paid 30 percent of costs,” she continued. “In Arkansas Works, the state’s share is 0 percent for now but goes up to 5 percent the next year.”

Sen. Eddie Joe Williams (R-Cabot) said he would vote for the program. “You have to look at the entire process. There’s parts I don’t care for and parts I do. But the governor’s $100 million tax cut means the budget would be in trouble without the Medicaid cost offsets provided the state,” Williams said.

Federal law requires public hospitals to provide care for the indigent, which would be uncompensated care without Arkansas Works. “That’s an unfunded mandate,” he said. “Those are real costs and somebody has to pay for it.”

Rep. Camille Bennett (D-Lonoke) says there’s nothing the General Assembly can do to change the Affordable Care Act, and Arkansas residents are going to have to pay taxes regardless, so they might as well get some of that value back to pay for Arkansas Works.

“I voted for it after changes were made to make it more effective, and I’ll be voting to fund it. I see no other option available,” Bennett said.

She said the Senate will take the matter up first and that the House may decline to approve any funding bills until the matter is settled, so legislators will know whether or not they have to cut the budget.

She said she believes the House will approve funding Arkansas Works.

While Williams and English opposed the private option when it first came before the General Assembly in 2013, Sen. Jonathan Dismang (R-Searcy), now Senate president pro-tempore, helped former House Speaker Davy Carter (R-Cabot) navigate the tricky waters of approval.

Dismang is expected to once again play a major roll in getting Medicaid expansion funded.


Rep. Donnie Copeland (R-North Little Rock) remains steadfast in his opposition to the Medicaid expansion under any name.

Copeland intends to introduce a bill that would split Arkansas Works out of the DHS budget so it would be possible to vote against Medicaid expansion without voting against the DHS budget.

He says he’s not concerned about the $150 million budget shortfall to the governor’s budget. He says it can be made up by eliminating waste. He cited a $200 million state information technology program he says has never worked right and the $20 million contract he says the state gave the same company to straighten out its own mess.

He would also eliminate corporate welfare to outfits like Big River Steel and make sure the Medicaid money is spent on disabled and needy children and traditional Medicaid patients.


If Arkansas Works isn’t approved, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Chancellor Dan Rahn says it could leave hospitals statewide providing $200 million in uncompensated care, and UAMS’ loss alone could be $65 million, he said Tuesday afternoon.

“We’d have to limit uncompensated care to emergency only,” he said.

“Seventy-five percent of our entire (UAMS) budget is supported by patient care,” he said. “It subsidizes the teaching.

“It will take $30 million out of academics,” he said, and result in big cuts in personnel.

Rahn said it was frustrating to have “the same political struggle every year.”

He said he supports the governor’s enhancements to the private option.

It was Carter, as speaker, who guided private option funding through the House, and his successor as speaker, Rep. Jeremy Gillam (R-Judsonia), is working to help the governor get his version funded.


Gillam on Monday sent lawmakers a copy of what a $150 million shortfall would mean to the various departments, agencies and programs throughout the state, starting with a $31 million hit to public education, libraries and workforce education.

Nearly $5 million would be cut from higher education; $3.4 from two-year technical colleges; State Police would be cut about $2 million; the state Health Department by nearly $4 million; county jail reimbursement about $500,000 and child-support enforcement could lose $400,000.

The Department of Human Services would be cut by $54 million, including about $11 million from Children and Family Services, $1.4 million from Division of Youth Services and about $2 million from Developmentally Disabled services.

The $31 million in public school fund cuts include $7 million from the school recognition program, $1.6 million for at-risk programs, $5 million in Better Chance funds, $2 million in coordinated school health, $9 million from National Board of Professional Teaching Standards, $3 million in Smart Start funds, $750,000 in surplus commodities.

SPORTS STORY >> Lonoke girls beat ’Birds in the eighth

Leader sports editor

The Lonoke softball team picked up a big 4A-2-Conference win on Thursday, beating Stuttgart 8-7 at Lonoke Ballpark with some late heroics before going 2-2 at the Ozark Classic tournament at Harrison over the weekend.

Thursday’s win was one of the most exciting of the season. Regulation ended with the score tied at 7-7 and Stuttgart started the top of the eighth with a runner on second. Sophomore Maddie Poolpitcher struck out the first batter, then got a pop up to the infield. Pool came back from a 3-0 count to fan Chloe Cox and give the home team a chance for the win.

Lonoke’s Molly Harrison went to second to start the inning, and things went well at the beginning. Harrison moved to third on a sacrifice grounder by Madison McFadden, but Valerie Staton popped up into foul territory for the second out.

With Pool at the plate and a 1-0 count, Harrison stole home to end the game.

McFadden and Staton each went 2 for 5 with a double and two RBIs. Mary Sumner went 2 for 3 with two RBIs and Harrison went 2 for 5 with three runs scored.

Pool threw all eight innings, giving up 12 hits and three earned runs while fanning 11 and walking three.

At Harrison, Lonoke split a pair of drastically different games with Harrison, losing 15-0 on Friday and then beating the Lady Goblins 15-0 on Saturday. Later that same day, the Lady Jackrabbits dropped a 4-3 decision to league foe Southside-Batesville, and beat Calico Rock 10-5.

McFadden hit a home run in the win over Harrison, while Molly Harrison went 3 for 3 with three more RBIs in the leadoff spot. Pool threw a one-hitter over four innings for the win.

Trinity Foley went 3 for 3 to lead Lonoke (8-8-1) in the win over Calico Rock. Pool and Madison Crow both went 2 for 4, both of Crow’s hits going for extra bases.

The Lady Jackrabbits will get back to league play on Thursday with a road trip to take on the Newport Lady Greyhounds.

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.

SPORTS STORY >> Pitch Panthers shock Bombers

Leader sports editor

The Cabot girls’ soccer team got another dominant performance while the boys picked up a big conference win last Friday against Mountain Home. The Lady Panthers routed Mountain Home 9-1 in a mercy-rule match while the boys handed the Bombers just their second loss of the season with a 2-0 win at Panther Stadium.

The Mountain Home ladies (5-6-1, 1-2) had no answer for Cabot’s powerful offense. The Lady Panthers scored on more than 60 percent of their shots, scoring on 9 of 15 shots on goal.

Junior Hadley Dickinson and sophomore Tristyn Edgar each pulled the hat trick while senior Maddie Rice and freshmen Gracen Turner and Brooklyn Stracener scored one goal apiece. Rice assisted on three other goals while Leelee Denton had two assists for Cabot.

The Lady Panthers (12-1, 3-0) have now outscored their three conference opponents by a combined 25-2.

The Cabot boys had not won a game when conference play began, but are leading the 7A/6A- East after three-straight wins. The Bombers (8-2-2, 2-1) were fresh off a 2-0 win at North Little Rock before being stunned by the Panthers (3-4-2, 3-0). Seth Whitman and Abi Brown posted Cabot’s two goals.

Both Cabot teams hosted Little Rock Christian Academy on Tuesday, and will travel to Jonesboro on Friday for another conference matchup against the Hurricanes.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot capitalizes, Red Devils don’t

Leader sportswriter

Timely hits were the key to the Cabot baseball team’s 10-6 win over Jacksonville in a nonconference game Thursday at Dupree Park. The Red Devils outhit the Panthers 11-10 and the hosts committed one fewer error, but Jacksonville left 12 runners on base and Cabot did the better job of capitalizing with runners in scoring position.

“We had one more (error) than them and one less hit and somehow we win the game 10-6,” said Cabot coach Ronnie Goodwin. “Baseball’s a funny game. I remember a game last year we hit nine balls hard and the other team hit two balls hard and we lost the game 2-1.

“Timely hitting is the name of the game in this game, but I thought we took really, really good swings for the most part today. We kept forcing the action and putting pressure on them (Jacksonville).”

Both teams scored their first two runs in the second inning, but Cabot (13-5, 5-1) scored the next six to take an 8-2 lead. Four of those runs came in the top of the third.

Catcher Denver Mullins reached on an error at second base to lead off the third inning, but Eric Larsen hit into a 6-4 fielder’s choice the next at-bat. Jake Slunder and Braden Jarnigan followed with consecutive singles to load the bases, and Dylan Thomas hit a bases-clearing double to right center the next at-bat.

That gave Cabot a 5-2 lead, and Thomas scored two batters later on an infield single to shortstop by Logan Gilbertson. The Panthers added two more runs in the fourth.

Bobby Joe Duncan led off the fourth inning with a walk and Mullins singled to left field the next at-bat. Larsen then hit into a fielder’s choice at third base, but everyone was safe on the play, loading the bases.

Slunder then hit into a 1-2 fielder’s choice for the first out of the inning, but Jarnigan drove in Logan Edmondson, Mullins’ courtesy runner, the following at-bat with a sac fly to center field. Brett Brockinton flew out to right field the next at-bat for the third out, but not before Larsen scored on a passed ball, giving Cabot the 8-2 cushion.

Jacksonville (5-12, 3-3) scored one run each in the bottom of the fourth and fifth innings. Red Devil leadoff hitter Kameron Whitmore doubled to start the bottom of the fourth. He advanced to third base on a passed ball and scored on a Mike Havard groundout to first base.

In the bottom of the fifth, JHS catcher Javan Wakefield started things off with a single to left field. He stole second base and later scored on a sac fly by Tyson Flowers, which cut the Panthers’ lead to 8-4.

Cabot answered with two more runs in the top of the sixth. Larsen led off the inning with a single. Slunder followed that at-bat with a single, and Jarnigan drove in both runners with a standup double to right center on a hit-and-run play, giving CHS the six-run lead.

“The hit and run Jarnigan got later in the game – you know, if we don’t get that two-RBI double there on a hit and run, that game might get a little heady there at the end,” Goodwin said.

Jacksonville came back with two runs in the bottom of the seventh, but it wasn’t enough to get back in the game. Jordan Wickersham started things off with a one-out walk. Flowers sacrificed him to second base with a bunt, and Whitmore then reached on an error at shortstop, putting runners at the corners.

With Havard at the plate, Wickersham scored Jacksonville’s fifth run on a wild pitch, which also advanced Whitmore to second base, and he scored on Havard’s two-out double to right center, and that set the final score.

“We’ve been on the other end of a lot of games this year,” said Jacksonville coach Larry Burrows, “and, you know, I keep telling them to work hard and we’re going to start getting the break we need. We’re going to get that hit they need. We’re so close.”

In addition, Burrows would like to see his players do a better job of playing more for each other and the team.

“We’ve just got to play together more,” Burrows said. “I don’t know that there’s the desire to win for each other, and that’s what I was talking to them about (postgame). I think that’s pretty much it in a nutshell. We have enough ability. Obviously, we don’t have as much as we had last year. But we have enough ability and we’ve gotten better every week, just individually. But that’s what we’ve got to do is get better as a team.”

Havard led Jacksonville at the plate Thursday, going 3 for 4 with three RBIs. Whitmore, Brandon Hickingbotham, Caden Sample and Wakefield each had two hits for the Red Devils.

Slunder led Cabot offensively, going 3 for 3 with three runs scored. Jarnigan had two hits for the Panthers, and Blake McCutchen, Mullins, Larsen, Thomas and Gilbertson had one apiece.

Brodey Schluter got the win on the mound. He took to the hill with one out in the bottom of the second with the score tied at 2-2, and pitched through the sixth inning, finishing with three strikeouts.

The Panthers also got a pair of 7A/6A-East Conference wins at Mountain Home on Friday. Cabot beat the Bombers 13-0 in the first game of the twinbill, and edged the hosts in the nightcap with a 7-5 victory.

Jacksonville was off Friday, and resumed 5A-Central Conference play last night at Pulaski Academy after deadlines.

The Panthers also had a conference doubleheader last night. Theirs was at home against Jonesboro. Look for scores and details on those games in Saturday’s edition of The Leader.