Lonoke scored 11 runs in the top of the third on its way to an 11-1 win over Heber Springs on Friday in the 2-4A Conference opener for both schools.
Heber Coach B.J. Greene said the Panthers helped the Jackrabbits (6-4), who won the league and finished runner-up in state last season, with several mistakes in the decisive third frame.
“We just bobbled it around. We had some errors in right and left field and then they kinda opened it up, but it was just one of those deals. Their pitcher [Zack Risner] threw strikes. He filled the strike zone up and we were taking until we got a strike. I thought we hit the ball well but their defense was great today. They made every play,” added Greene.
Greene was proud of his young team battling at the plate against an experienced pitcher. “We hit the ball top to bottom better than we have hit all season. They made every play, but we hit the ball really well.”
Heber scored its lone run in the fourth inning. Sophomore Dillion Moore (2-for-2) led the Panthers (3-7, 0-1) with two hits, while sophomore Chandler Marquardt (1-for-2) and senior Judson Smith (1-for-2) each collected a base hit for Heber.
The Panthers host the American Oil Field Classic starting Thursday at the Heber Springs Sports Complex. Heber's varsity team opens tournament play on Thursday at 5 p.m. versus Class 7A Springdale. The Panthers' J/V team plays Vilonia on Friday at 9 a.m.
Shiloh Christian, Brookland, Glen Rose and Hazen will join Heber's two teams, Vilonia and Springdale for the tournament, which guarantees each team will play a minimum of three games, assuming the weather holds up.
“We've got some good teams coming in and we will have a chance to get some of our J/V guys some action too, so it's going to be nothing but good for us. If the town will come out and watch they are going to see some really good baseball. It speaks for the kind of facility we have got here,” said Greene.
“I think the kids are used to playing on Spring Break, but we are going to play every Spring Break and we've talked about that. It's going to get us better. The Monday after Spring Break ends we go to Stuttgart for our second conference game. You look at us and we've got the two top dogs [Lonoke and Stuttgart] right away,” added Greene.