Heber Springs and pitcher Tess Temple held Southside scoreless through 12 innings, but the Lady Southerners scored five quick runs to provide a late scare during game two of Wednesday's double-header. After winning game one, 2-0, the Lady Panthers held on to win game two, 9-5.
“This is this first time we've played a double-header varsity softball game, so I was a little nervous with how the girls were going to respond and play,” said Lady Panthers head coach Dusty West. “But they showed no drop off in the second game. Scored nine runs and had a little slippage there at the end and gave up a few, but overall I was very happy to come down here and get two wins.”
Temple struck out ten batters over the course of both games.
“We rely on Tess Temple a lot in the circle and she threw over 200 pitches tonight. I really don't want her throwing that many, but she did well,” said West. “We hit the ball well again. Toni Bryant, Ericka Hatsell, several of them had great hits.”
Heber Springs 9, Southside 5
Senior Toni Bryant finished game two 2 for 4 with two RBIs on a triple and a double. Junior Ashlyn Taylor went 2 for 3 with two RBIs and two stolen bases, and sophomore Abbi McBroome added two RBIs on 1 for 3 hitting.
Hali Bish got the Panthers on the board first in game two, driving in Savannah Childress with a single. Bish took home plate on a Southside throwing error for a 2-0 lead.
Bryant turned a double play to help the Lady Panthers get out of the top of the 3rd inning, then led off at the plate with a double. Taylor scored Bryant with a bunt, Lana Milton singled and advanced pinch runner Emeli Bish to third before Bish scored on a wild pitch for a 4-0 lead.
After Childress singled and Hali Bish was hit by a pitch, McBroome hit a two RBI single to put Heber Springs up 6-0.
The game remained scoreless until the bottom of the sixth when Southside's Reagan Yeager hit an RBI single and Kaylee Freeman drove in a runner on a sac fly to pull within 6-2.
McBroome singled and stole second and third base before being thrown out at home plate to open the seventh inning. Temple walked, and Hatsell singled before Bryant hit a two RBI triple for a 8-2 lead.
Taylor scored Bryant on a single for the Lady Panthers' last run of the game.
Southside senior Maigan Johnson belted a two RBI home run off Temple in the bottom of the seventh inning to move within 9-4. Carlee Gilpin drove in a runner with a single, and Southside had the tying run at the plate with the bases loaded, down 9-5, with two outs. Temple pitched the Lady Panthers out of the inning and clinched the win, 9-5.
“I don't know if it was a little fatigue on Tess's part or if we just lost focus as a group but anytime you come over here and get two wins you've got to be excited about it,” said West.
West praised his team's overall defense despite the late lapse.
“Toni [Bryant] made some great plays defensively at third base and Abbi McBroome at shortstop made some. Hannah Ford over here at first base had several good catches of bad throws, and she still made the plays,” said West. “Lana Milton and Keeley Cresswell pinch-hit in the first game and both of them got base hits...it was just overall a team effort tonight in both games, and that's what we've been preaching this year. It's good to see it in action.”
Heber Springs 2, Southside 0
Abbi McBroome hit a sac fly to the outfield to score Hannah Ford and put the Lady Panthers ahead 1-0 in the 5th inning of a defensive battle in game one. Ericka Hatsell scored Heber Springs' second run on a passed ball by the catcher after a single by sophomore Madison Copeland.
“It was definitely a pitcher's duel,” said West. “Tess [Temple] pitched lights out. She pitched seven innings, no runs.”
Heber Springs (6-1, 2-0) plays at Sheridan on Friday at 4:30 p.m.