Heber Springs defeated Newport 6-3 on Thursday in a 2-4A conference home game and followed that up by winning 2-of-3 games as host team of an eight-team invitational tournament on Saturday at the Heber Springs Sports Complex.

Heber Springs defeated Newport 6-3 on Thursday in a 2-4A conference home game and followed that up by winning 2-of-3 games as host team of an eight-team invitational tournament on Saturday at the Heber Springs Sports Complex.
In Thursday’s win over Newport, which evened the Lady Panthers 2-4A record at 1-1, Heber jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first frame. Alexis Ingram, who finished 2-for-2 with two runs scored, ignited the Lady Panthers with a one-out single up the middle.
After Ingram stole second, McKenzie Cresswell reached on an error before Peyton Vineyard grounded to the left side, which caused a throwing error that allowed Ingram to score.
With two runners in scoring position after Vineyard swiped second, Hannah Mangum roped an RBI single to centerfield that scored Cresswell but Vineyard was thrown out at home plate, leaving Heber’s lead at 2-0 going into the second inning as Newport pitcher Ashton Madden worked around further damage.
Cresswell, Heber’s starting pitcher, retired the first two batters of the second but Newport loaded the bases on two hit batsmen sandwiched around a bunt single by Mallory Watson. Cresswell pitched out of the jam with a strikeout, her second of the inning and third of the game.
Madden retired Heber in order in the bottom half of the second but Cresswell continued to stymie the Lady Greyhounds in the third inning, despite walking the leadoff batter. Cresswell, who improved to 4-0 as starting pitcher this season, struck out two more while receiving help from Ingram, who tracked down a long fly-ball in deep left center from her centerfield position.
Already leading 2-0, Heber added three insurance runs in the bottom of the third, pounding out three hits along the way. Ingram drilled a one-out single to center and Cresswell beat out a bunt single, which advanced Ingram to third.
Vineyard, who finished 2-of-3 with two runs scored a 3 RBI, broke open the game with a 2 RBI double down the left field line, scoring Ingram and Cresswell for a 4-0 lead. Mangum’s groundout moved Vineyard to third, where moments later she scored on a wild pitch as Heber built a 5-0 lead before Madden got out of the inning.
Newport got on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth when Mallory Watson pushed a bunt single past a charging infield, scoring Haley Watson, who reached on a walk.
Madden pitched out of trouble in the bottom half, leaving the bases loaded after Courtney Verser was hit-by-a-pitch, Skye Miller beat out a bunt single and Ingram walked.
Courtney Rackley relieved Cresswell to start the fifth and retired the Lady Greyhounds in order, including two fly-balls handled by Ingram in center.
Heber added another run in the bottom of the fifth as Vineyard led off with a single, stole second and eventually scored on Sarah Peeler’s RBI bunt.
After third base player Skylar Johnson robbed Newport with a smooth play on a grounder down third base line, Rackley pitched around a one-out walk and two-out single, leaving two runners stranded in scoring position.
Madden sat down the Lady Panthers in order in the sixth and Newport stirred up a rally in the seventh as Emily Lowery reached on an error and Madden pulled a single through the hole on left side.
Rackley fired back with a strikeout before Sissy Boyster ripped a bad-hop, RBI single past second base that scored Lowery. Ally Hutchinson followed with a looping single over second for an RBI that plated Madden as Newport suddenly sliced its deficit in half at 6-3 with two outs in the final frame.
With runners at second and third and the tying run at the plate, Rackley recorded her third strikeout to pick up her second save of the season as Heber held on for a 6-3 victory.
Heber Invitational Tournament
Watson Chapel 5, Heber 4
Watson Chapel pitcher Maegan McGreer kept the ball low on Saturday morning while limiting Heber Springs to only one hit in the first five innings. But, down to its final three cracks, the Lady Panthers would battle back, scoring four runs in the final inning before falling short as the Lady Wildcats claimed a one-run, first-round victory.
Leading 3-0 going into the bottom of the fifth, Watson Chapel’s Sydney Crossett slammed a double off the centerfield wall then Natalie Johnson smashed a two-run home run, which ended up deciding the game once Heber’s rally fell one run short. Johnson’s towering homer landed on top of the hill past the left field fence.
Trailing 5-0 in the top of the sixth and final inning, the Lady Panthers began to figure out McGreer, starting with a leadoff single by Ingram. Cresswell then pulled a single through the hole on left side but Vineyard popped out before Mangum laced an RBI double down the right field line, plating Ingram.
Verser struck out but alertly reached on a passed ball, which loaded the bases but McGreer responded with a strikeout. After Cresswell scored on a passed ball, Madi Fires reached on a throwing error, which allowed Mangum and Verser to score as Heber suddenly pulled within a run at 5-4. But, moments later Watson Chapel catcher Harley Easler gunned down Fires trying to steal second as the Class 6A Lady Wildcats pulled out a 5-4 victory.
Rackley pitched all five innings for Heber, scattering four hits, walking one and striking out four.
Heber 3, Lonoke 1
Although not a conference victory, Heber Springs avenged a loss at Lonoke last Tuesday with a win over the Lady Jackrabbits in Saturday’s invitational tournament.
Cresswell, who improved to 5-0 as Heber’s starting pitcher, picked up the win on the mound, only allowing three hits in three innings of work. She walked two and struck out two before giving way to Bridget Muse, who pitched the final two innings for her second save of the season.
Lonoke jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the second but Heber answered with a run in the bottom half. Then, the Lady Panthers scored two more in the third, highlighted by Mangum’s 2 RBI single, which scored Ingram and Vineyard. Verser also notched an RBI against Lonoke while Johnson contributed a hit and run scored.
Heber 5, Mtn. Home 1
The Lady Panthers erased a 1-0 deficit with three runs in the third inning on Saturday afternoon against Class 6A Mountain Home. Heber tacked on two more in the fourth, pulling away for 5-1 win over the Lady Bombers while finishing with a record of 2-1 in the upper division of the eight-team invitational tournament held at the Heber Springs Sports Complex.
Miller sparked the Lady Panthers with an RBI double to right center, scoring Peeler and tying the game at 1-1. Ingram followed with a double to left field in which she hustled to second as Mtn. Home took its time getting the ball back to the infield.
After Miller scored on a wild pitch, Vineyard poked an RBI single up the middle, scoring Ingram for a 3-1 lead.
Rackley, who pitched all six innings, giving up seven hits and striking out six without allowing a walk, shut down Mtn. Home in the top of the fourth then Johnson led off the bottom half with an infield single.
Miller added a one-out single to centerfield and Ingram walked to load the bases but Johnson was picked off third base before Vineyard delivered a two-out, 2 RBI single to left field, scoring Miller and Ingram as the Lady Panthers built a 5-1 lead and cruised behind Rackley’s right arm.