There were a few times last week when the struggles of the Booneville softball team seemed like they were just about to abate. But some misfortune or other got in the way in each of the five games played. Whether it was a big inning by the other team or just plain bad luck, the LadyCats came up empty for all their efforts.

And yet hope springs eternal, in the form of the district tournament. And this year is the LadyCats’ turn to host it and in that scenario literally anything can happen. History proves that as in the first year of fastpitch at Booneville, they lost their first 12 games, some by lopsided margins, and yet when district tournament time came they sprang an upset on Dardanelle and were off to regionals.

This team has enough talent to pull off such a feat despite their record and this week would be a great time to prove that indeed, they do have the goods.

Waldron 5 LadyCats 1 (Monday)

Beth Wilkinson led off with a double off the center fielder’s glove and after the next two batters were retired, scored when the Waldron shortstop misplayed Bailey Denton’s grounder. Ashton Young singled to lead off the Waldron half of the inning and a Rheagan Sanford sacrifice resulted in an error; however an alert Denton fired back to third in time to retire Young, and Brooklyn Zarlingo then got out of the inning. The Lady Bulldogs loaded the bases with one out in the second, but Zarlingo got Young to fly out to short right and then Shelby Posey snagged a Sanford line drive.

Booneville got a runner on base in both the third and fourth but left them stranded and Waldron broke through in their half of the fourth as Saige Mahar’s double drove in Faith Martin, who had singled. Waldron then loaded the bases again, but once again Zarlingo found a way out by retiring the next three batters. The LadyCats got two on with nobody out in the sixth as Baylee Moses’ walk was followed by a Posey single, but two pop-ups were followed by a Jessica Parrish line drive that was reeled in by the shortstop.

Zarlingo then ran out of luck in the Waldron sixth. They once again loaded the bases with nobody out and this time Sanford cashed it in with a two-RBI single. Mackenzie Callahan and Skyla Lipham also had RBIs in the inning. Booneville got a runner on in the seventh when Keara Ross was hit by a pitch with one out, but nothing came of it. The game ended with Wilkinson hitting a sinking liner that Mahar was somehow able to come up with for the third out.

Mansfield 17 LadyCats 3

A single, an error and a sacrifice fly gave the Lady Tigers the lead in the first and they added three in the second, but Booneville put together three runs in the bottom of the second. Singles by Bailey Denton and Callie Smith and a walk to Jessica Parrish loaded the bases. Denton came home on a passed ball and the other scored when Brooklyn Zarlingo scorched one into left field.

Mansfield added one in the third and BHS then got a chance courtesy of two Mansfield errors, but they couldn’t cash in. The Lady Tigers got another in the fourth and then the roof fell on the LadyCats in the top of the sixth. The first 11 MHS batters reached by hit, error or walk and all of them eventually crossed the plate. Carli Haller relieved Zarlingo after Kyli Davidson’s two-RBI single and the sophomore right-hander set down the next three batters in order. Booneville loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning, but a pop-up turned into a game-ending double play. Zarlingo went 3-for-3 on the day and drove in two runs.

Waldron 12 LadyCats 3 (Friday)

It was Senior Day as the team honored Beth Wilkinson and Bailey Denton on their last home game, but Waldron was in no mood to allow the celebration to end with a win. They scored three in the top of the first, but Booneville answered right back. With two out, Shelby Posey and Bailey Denton hit back-to-back doubles and Callie Smith followed with an RBI single. Jessica Parrish reached on an error and then Hannah Gregory plugged the right-center field gap. Smith scored, but Parrish was retired at home to thwart the LadyCats’ attempt to take the lead.

Waldron got two in the second but again the LadyCats threatened with two out. Wilkinson singled and Baylee Moses found a gap as well. However, Wilkinson was retired on a close play at the plate. The Lady Bulldogs made it 7-3 in the third before Booneville loaded the bases with one out on an error, a double by Smith and a walk to Parrish, but a pop-up and a forceout ended that threat. Waldron then put it out of hand with five fifth-inning runs, capped by a two-run homer by Mackenzie Callahan.

Carli Haller again came on in relief and pitched her way out of two bases-loaded jams without allowing a run, but Booneville could make no headway. Moses finished 3-for-4, with Smith going 2-for-3 and driving in a run.

Magazine Tournament

Booneville drew the host Lady Rattlers in the first of two pool games and they drew first blood. Playing as the home team, Booneville got the first run as Beth Wilkinson started the game with a single and a steal of second. Bailey Denton picked up the RBI, but Magazine, aided by two LadyCat errors, tied it up in the top of the second. They added two more in the fourth with Booneville errors again contributing to the runs.

The LadyCats answered in their half of the inning as Denton singled and advanced on an error by the left fielder. After the next batter was retired, Jessica Parrish smacked one to the fence in center field for the RBI. But Magazine pitcher Courtney Stone struck out the next two batters. Booneville got the tying runs on base in the bottom of the fifth and last inning on a Brooklyn Zarlingo single and a walk to Baylee Moses, but Stone induced the next two batters to pop out to end the game with a 4-2 Magazine win. Denton had the only multiple-hit game for Booneville with two.

Mansfield awaited in the next game and the Lady Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the second, then added two in the third after a controversial no-call. After Danielle Lillie had walked and the next batter was retired, Caroline Nicodemus popped up to Shelby Posey at shortstop. Lillie was caught off the bag and appeared out by a considerable distance, but she was ruled safe. That would have ended the inning; instead Booneville committed an error on a ball hit by Rylea Weaver and then Maggie Strunk drove both runners in with a double.

The LadyCats got those two runs back in their half of the third and could have had more. Hannah Gregory led off with a walk and Denton was hit by a pitch. Wilkinson moved the runners over and Baylee Moses singled both of them home. Posey was then hit by a pitch and Mansfield switched pitchers, bringing on Nicodemus in relief of Strunk. Parrish then blooped one behind second, but Moses was unsure of whether it would be caught, hesitated, and was forced out at third. Another forceout ended the inning.

The Lady Tigers grabbed one in the fourth and two in the fifth, but Booneville quickly mounted a threat in their half of the fifth inning, which under the time limit would be the last. Denton led off with a double and Wilkinson brought her in with a single, sending Moses to the plate. The sophomore hit a very low liner which was about to go through, but Nicodemus was able to snare it and throw to first for the double play. Posey then rapped a double down the line in left, but Parrish grounded out to end the game.

In the tournament, Parrish had two long doubles that might have cleared the fence at Booneville’s field, while Denton scored three times. Catcher Keara Ross threw out a runner stealing and was also involved in turning a double play, and Booneville recorded an out from the outfield when they caught a runner trying to score. Perhaps they can take these good things and put a run together in the district tournament this week.