Heber Springs sophomore pitcher Courtney Rackley struck out 10 batters while limiting rival Clinton to a mere five base runners, hurling the Lady Panthers past the Lady Yellow Jackets 2-1 on Tuesday in 2-4A Conference play at the Heber Springs Sports Complex.
Heber Springs sophomore pitcher Courtney Rackley struck out 10 batters while limiting rival Clinton to a mere five base runners, hurling the Lady Panthers past the Lady Yellow Jackets 2-1 on Tuesday in 2-4A Conference play at the Heber Springs Sports Complex. Rackley's counterpart, Clinton pitcher Tori Johnson, held the Lady Panthers to six hits and eight base runners while posting six strikeouts, but Heber used small ball to squeak past the pesky Lady Yellow Jackets. Senior Courtney Verser drove home both of Heber's runs, including a one-out RBI single in the fifth inning that ended up making the difference in the game. Clinton (7-8, 1-5) took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning behind a two-out rally. After Rackley struck out the first two batters, Johnson sparked Clinton with a single to right center. Haley Hink followed with a single to right field then Zoe Tester poked an RBI single over first base and into right field, scoring Johnson. Rackley avoided more trouble with a strikeout, but Johnson handcuffed the Lady Panthers until the bottom of the third, when Heber tied the game with one run on one hit. Madi Fires drew a walk to lead off the inning and she advanced to second on a sacrifice-bunt by Skye Miller. After Fires stole third, Verser hit a ground ball to second base for an RBI that plated Fires, tying the score at 1-1. Alexis Ingram added a single and stole second, but Johnson used a strikeout to escape the third frame. Rackley retired nine straight batters in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, while Heber scratched across the go-ahead run in the bottom of the fifth starting when Miller was hit-by-a-pitch and stole second. Miller moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on Verser's RBI single to center field as the Lady Panthers took a 2-1 lead before Johnson retired two straight, including one by strikeout. With Heber leading 2-1 entering the bottom of the sixth, Hannah Mangum slapped a single through the hole on right side to lead off the inning and moved to second on a one-out bunt single by Makenzie Martin. But Johnson sat down the next two batters, including one by strikeout, as Clinton stayed within striking distance entering the top of the seventh. Rackley, who only allowed one hit after the first inning, nailed down the Lady Panthers' victory. After issuing a leadoff walk to Tester, Rackley mowed down the Lady 'Jackets, posting three consecutive strikeouts as Heber improved to 4-1 in conference play. Martin contributed a team-high two hits for Heber, while Verser (2 RBI), Ingram, Mangum and Cresswell each added a base hit. Miller and Fires scored Heber's two runs. Heber, which currently sits in a three-way tie atop the 2-4A standings with Southside Batesville and Lonoke, wrapped up league play on Thursday at 4 p.m. Depending on the weather, the game could be pushed back to Friday (today).