Locked in a pitcher's duel, Heber Springs sophomore McKenzie Cresswell sent a line drive to center field that was mishandled, allowing senior Alexis Ingram to score the game's only run as the Lady Panthers edged South Side Bee Branch 1-0 on Tuesday in a tune up for this weekend's district tournament.
Locked in a pitcher's duel, Heber Springs sophomore McKenzie Cresswell sent a line drive to center field that was mishandled, allowing senior Alexis Ingram to score the game's only run as the Lady Panthers edged South Side Bee Branch 1-0 last Tuesday. Heber starting pitcher Courtney Rackley tossed three perfect innings before giving way to Cresswell, who picked up the win while limiting South Side to three hits over the final four frames. South Side, which dropped to 21-3 overall on the season including two losses to the Lady Panthers, received a strong pitching performance from Rachel Lawrence, who retired the first 14 batters she faced before Cresswell broke up her perfect game bid with a well-placed infield single. With two outs in the bottom of the fifth, Lawrence retired Makenzie Martin on a ground ball back to the circle, leaving Cresswell stranded at third. South Side nearly pushed across a run in the bottom of the fifth as Kendall Sullivan beat out an infield single and moved to second on Breanna Wells' sacrifice-bunt. Hannah Bernhardt followed with a sacrifice-fly to center, advancing Sullivan to third. With South Side threatening for the first time, Cresswell responded with a strikeout, leaving Sullivan stranded at third. Lawrence pitched around a two-out walk issued to Miller in the top of the sixth and the Lady Hornets stirred up another threat in the bottom half, starting when Ashley Smith slapped a single to shallow left field. Bethany Wilson, batting left-handed, sliced a double deep down the left field line, but Madi Fires was able to quickly retrieve the ball, forcing Smith to hold at third. After inducing a pop-out to Alexis Ingram at shortstop, Cresswell issued a walk to Kelsey Cotton, which loaded the bases for Sullivan, who sent a sharp ground ball to shortstop, where Ingram made the play and flipped to Courtney Verser for a force out at second as South Side left the bases loaded. Still scoreless entering the top of the seventh, Ingram drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on a sacrifice-bunt by Sara Peeler, who also reached safely as Ingram beat South Side's throw to second. With runners at first and second, Lawrence retired Hannah Mangum on a fly ball to left field before Cresswell sent a sharp line drive to left center that was dropped as Ingram made a perfect read and motored around from second for the winning run. Martin followed with a sacrifice-bunt, moving two runners into scoring position for Kaitlyn Bradke, who hit fly ball down the right field line that Brianna Dumas tracked down near the foul line, saving at least two runs. In the bottom of the seventh, Cresswell once again pitched out of trouble after the Lady Hornets stirred up a two-out rally, which started when MaKayla Mosley and Lawrence drew consecutive walks. Smith followed with an infield single, which loaded the bases for Wilson, who sent a fly-ball to left center, where Martin made a lunging stab as she fell to the ground, clinching the Lady Panthers' 1-0 victory. Rackley pitched three innings without allowing a hit or walk, while ringing up three strikeouts and Cresswell pitched the final four innings, scattering three hits and walking three. Lawrence, who took over as South Side's starting pitcher five games ago due to an injury to Wells, took a tough luck loss as she held Heber to one hit and two walks while striking out four.