Heber Springs gained momentum heading into this week's district tournament by edging South Side Bee Branch 3-2 in a non conference game on Tuesday and wrapping up 2-4A Conference play on Friday with a 14-2 triumph over Pine Bluff Dollarway.
Heber Springs gained momentum heading into this week’s district tournament by edging South Side Bee Branch 3-2 in a non conference game on Tuesday and wrapping up 2-4A Conference play on Friday with a 14-2 triumph over Pine Bluff Dollarway.
In Tuesday’s win over 1A-2 South regular season champion South Side, the Lady Panthers jumped out to an early 1-0 lead as Tess Temple stroked a single to center and scored on Sarah Peeler’s RBI triple, which she roped down the right field line.
The Lady Hornets countered with two runs in the fourth inning, but Heber would respond in the bottom of the fifth. After Kaitlyn Bradke drove a triple in the left center alley, Toni Bryant reached on a bunt.
Madi Fires then delivered the decisive blow, ripping a double down the right field line that scored Bradke and Bryant as the Lady Panthers took a 3-2 lead and held off South Side behind Temple, who struck out nine and only allowed two walks.
The Lady Panthers cruised past struggling Dollarway, scoring five runs in the first and second inning despite letting off the gas by intentionally having base runners called out for leaving base early in a display of good sportsmanship.
Fires, Temple and Hannah Mangum all walked in the first inning to start the onslaught. Fires and Temple both scored on a throwing error and Peeler reached on a fly-ball turned error that plated Mangum for a quick 3-0 lead.
McKenzie Cresswell’s fly-ball to center was misplayed, allowing Peeler to score then Ericka Hatsell delivered an RBI double to left center, scoring Cresswell and extending Heber’s lead to 5-0.
Temple sat the Lady Cardinals down in order for the second straight inning while recording two strikeouts and Heber added five more runs in the second, starting when Fires reached on an error and stole her way around to third.
Temple’s soft liner to shortstop was mishandled, which allowed Fires to score, then Mangum belted an RBI double to deep left center, plating Temple as the Lady Panthers pushed their lead to 7-0.
After Peeler reached on an error that scored Mangum, Cresswell singled to center. Hatsell drove home Peeler with an RBI groundout to shortstop before Bradke nailed a single back up the middle, ricocheting off Dollarway’s pitcher, who hung tough despite the blow to the leg.
Hannah Ford followed with an RBI single to left field that scored Cresswell as Heber’s lead grew to 10-0 before Dollarway mercifully got out of the inning courtesy of the Lady Panthers’ sportsmanship.
Heber cruised through the next three frames with Courtney Rackley in relief of Temple. Rackley struck out four while limiting Dollarway to a pair of runs on three hits. Temple fanned three without allowing a base runner in the first two innings.
Heber opens 2-4A District Tournament play Thursday at Lonoke.