Third-seeded Heber Springs entered 2-4A conference district tournament play in Newport needing one win in order to qualify for this weekend’s 4A East Regional tournament at the Heber Springs Sports Complex.
The Lady Panthers accomplished much more as they scored a total of 32 runs in three games, beating Clinton 11-1 in Thursday’s first round, Stuttgart 12-9 in Friday’s semifinal round and Lonoke 9-4 in Saturday’s championship game.
In Thursday’s win over Clinton, Heber built a 5-1 lead through four innings before ending the game with six runs in the fifth, placing the run-rule into effect.
Leadoff batter Skye Miller led the Lady Panthers with a 2-for-2 performance, which included 2 runs and 2 RBIs. Alexis Ingram finished 1-for-1 with 3 walks, 1 run and 3 RBIs, while shortstop Peyton Vinyard was 1-for-2 with 3 runs and an RBI. Sam Temple added 2 runs and 2 RBIs, Courtney Verser scored 2 runs and Skylar Johnson added 2 RBIs.
McKenzie Cresswell picked up the win in the circle, only allowing two hits and one earned run while striking out five in four innings. Courtney Rackley pitched the final frame without allowing a base runner.
In Friday’s win over Stuttgart, the Lady Panthers jumped out to a 4-0 lead but the Lady Ricebirds chipped away at their deficit, eventually tying the game at 5-all with three runs in the bottom of the seventh.
Heber reclaimed the lead with two runs in the eighth inning but Stuttgart refused to go away, once again tying the game, this time at 7-all heading to the ninth. The Lady Panthers erupted with five runs in the top of the ninth and held on in the bottom half to capture a thrilling 12-9 victory.
Miller led Heber with a 4-for-5 performance, including 1 run and 4 RBIs. Ingram followed with a 3-for-5 effort while scoring 1 run and driving home another. Vinyard added 2 hits and an RBI, Temple recorded 1 hit, 1 run and 2 RBIs and Verser contributed 1 hit, 1 run and an RBI. Cresswell scored 3 runs and had 1 RBI.
Rackley pitched all nine innings, scattering 13 hits and walking one while striking out six.
In Saturday’s win over Lonoke, Heber held a 2-1 lead after one inning. The Lady Jackrabbits tied the score with a run in the bottom of the third but Heber responded with two in the fifth. Lonoke scored in the bottom half of the fifth, pulling within one at 4-3 before the Lady Panthers exploded with five runs in the sixth to put the game away.
Miller finished 3-for-3 with 2 runs and 3 RBIs and Vinyard was 3-for-4 with 1 run and 4 RBIs. Temple was 2-for-4 with 2 runs and 1 RBI, Johnson was 2-for-4 with 1 run and Sarah Peeler went 1-for-2 with an RBI. Ingram scored 2 runs and Verser added 1 run.
Cresswell picked up the win in the circle, allowing seven hits in four innings before giving way to Rackley, who closed out the final three innings, holding Lonoke to three hits.
Top-seeded Heber plays fourth-seeded Trumann in the first round of the regional tournament on Friday at 12 p.m. at the Heber Sports Complex.