In between a convincing sweep of Clarksville and a good showing in the Heber Springs tournament, the Booneville softball team had a very important conference game against Pottsville last Friday.
The Lady Cats let a 3-0 lead get away but found a way back as Jacque Hall’s RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning gave BHS a 4-3 win. This enabled them to remain unbeaten in the conference at 3-0.
The Lady Cats knocked off the host Heber Springs team in their tournament, then played well against Class 6A teams Searcy and Jonesboro. They had chances to win both games and drew praise from fans of other teams.
Senior Brittany Ward had an outstanding week, going 14-for-18 at the plate for a .778 average. Classmate Marissa O’Neal and freshman catcher Hannah McClung also had hot bats. Meanwhile, Ashdon Ross struck out 13 batters in the Pottsville game.
Lady Cats 13-16
Ashdon Ross started the first game with a routine grounder to the second baseman but she fumbled the ball, allowing Ross to reach. A stolen base and a Morgan Osborne single later, the Lady Cats slowly opened the floodgates. After Osborne swiped second she was driven in by a Hannah McClung double, and a hit by Brittany Ward made it 3-0. In the second inning, a walk to Jacque Hall and a single by Ross set the table for Osborne, who drove both runners home. After a fielder’s choice and a McClung double, Marissa O’Neal singled and Kaitlynn Davis almost took the shortstop’s glove off with a line drive with both picking up RBIs.
Another error on a routine play led to four Lady Cat runs in the third. This time a routine fly ball by Lilly Dobbs was dropped in left field and Ross followed with an infield hit. Osborne laid down a sacrifice bunt and reached on an overthrow with Dobbs scoring. Taylor Nichols knocked in Ross before McClung slugged a home run to left-center. Booneville added two more in the fourth on a Nichols sacrifice fly and McClung’s base hit. The Booneville catcher was 4-for-4 with 4 RBIs and Osborne knocked in three in support of Nichols, who allowed only two hits.
Ross walked and stole second to start game two and after a Nichols single, McClung drove in the run with a sacrifice fly. Clarksville tallied an unearned run in the bottom of the inning but Booneville blew it open with a nine-run second inning in which 14 Lady Cats came to the plate. Booneville had nine hits and were helped by two Lady Panther errors. Ward, Davis and Dobbs all had two hits in the inning, which was capped by Dobbs’ two-RBI double.
Booneville added another run in the third as a Ward double plated Holley Maness, who was running for McClung after she forced Osborne out at third. They capped it off with five in the fourth inning; Nichols had an RBI single and two runs came home on errors before Ward grabbed two more RBIs with her second double of the game. The senior was 4-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored and Dobbs collected three hits and two RBIs as Ross gave up only two hits.
Lady Cats 4
Ashdon Ross struck out the side in the first inning and Booneville immediately gave her support by scoring three times in the bottom of the frame. Ross helped herself with a leadoff single and was sacrificed to second by Morgan Osborne. Hannah McClung picked up Ross with a base hit and after a Marissa O’Neal single, Brittany Ward cracked a two-RBI double. Ross again fanned the side in the second but got into trouble not of her own doing in the top of the third.
Pottsville’s Mikayla Scheide singled to lead off the inning and Avery Simpson then rapped it back to Ross. Trying for a force at second, she threw it between Ward and O’Neal. Bailey Martin then laid down a bunt but when Ross threw the ball, no one was covering first base and by the time Taylor Bauer got it back in Scheide had scored. Hannah Barnett then hit a looper that Kaitlynn Davis made a great play to catch, but she handcuffed Ward with the throw to try and retire Simpson coming back and the runner took third. Martin was then caught stealing, but Simpson scored on the play, and a dropped pop-up led to Pottsville’s third run.
Booneville threatened in the bottom of the inning but stranded two runners and chances were slim to none for both teams after that as Ross again struck out the side in the fifth. The Lady Cats finally broke through with one out in the sixth. Davis hit a screamer down the left field line that rolled along the fence enough for her to reach third base. Jacque Hall then worked the count to 3-1 before lashing a single to center that scored pinch-runner Paige Joyce. Ross then retired the side in order in the top of the seventh, fanning Simpson to end the game with 13 strikeouts while allowing just two hits.
The Lady Cats drew the host Lady Panthers in the first round, and an error led to Booneville’s first run as Morgan Osborne’s grounder went right through the shortstop’s legs. She stole second and went to third on a groundout before Hannah McClung got the RBI with a single up the middle. Kaitlynn Davis hit a ringing double off the left field fence to lead off the second inning. Jacque Hall sacrificed her to third and Jaycie Rodatz got the RBI on a groundout.
Booneville got their last run in the fourth as Hall singled, advanced on Rodatz’ sacrifice bunt and scored on a hit by Ross. The Lady Panthers got one back on a bizarre play in the fifth inning as after Hannah Mangum drilled a double to center, Osborne tried to flip the ball to Taylor Bauer and instead tossed it over the fence. Mangum was given two bases on the miscue and therefore scored, but Ross, relieving starter Taylor Nichols, shut down Heber in the sixth to pick up the save. McClung, Marissa O’Neal and Brittany Ward each had two hits.
The Lady Cats advanced to play Searcy in the semifinals; the Lady Lions, helped by three errors and a passed ball, scored three times in the bottom of the first inning. Booneville wasted no time getting all three of them back in the top of the second as McClung led off with a walk and Paige Joyce ran for her. Ward followed with a single, then Davis hammered one off the center field fence to plate Joyce. Ward scored on a hit by Hall, then Jaycie Rodatz hit a grounder to the left of the shortstop who had to eat the ball as Davis scored.
Booneville took the lead in the third inning; with one out, McClung lashed a double and O’Neal followed by beating out a grounder to short and stealing second base. Ward then smashed a double off the left field fence to score both runs. But Searcy hit the Lady Cats for a five-spot in the fourth inning as the Lady Lions collected seven hits, executed a squeeze play perfectly and were helped by a Booneville error. Searcy tacked one on in the fifth; Booneville had a chance to get back in it in the top of the sixth as Hall and Ross both singled. Osborne then hit a hard liner that the SHS center fielder made a great play on. Had it gotten by, likely all three runs would have scored; as it was, Hall was doubled off to end the game. Ward was 3-for-3 with two RBIs and Hall added two hits.
That sent Booneville to the third-place game where they played Jonesboro, the 4th ranked team in Class 6A. Hits were at a distinct premium in the game; Osborne reached third via an error, a stolen base and a wild pitch in the first inning but was left stranded there. O’Neal doubled to lead off the second inning but got no further. Meanwhile, Nichols was pitching a fine game and got some help in the second inning. With one out and a runner at first, Ward made a spectacular catch of a looping line drive. Rolling back over, her throw was on time to double off the runner.
Nichols got out of a second-and-third, one-out jam in the bottom of the third by inducing the next two batters to hit the ball right back to her. Ross came on to relieve in the fourth and set down the first eight batters she faced, striking out four of them. But the Lady Cats could not make any headway and the Hurricanes rallied with two out in the sixth. A double was followed by Ross getting a 1-2 count on the next batter and then delivering a very close pitch that was ruled a ball. The batter then hit it to third but Nichols missed the tag on the runner coming over. The next batter rapped a grounder to short but it got under Ward’s glove and Jonesboro had the only run they needed.
Nichols and Ross combined on a four-hitter but the Lady Cats only managed two safeties as Osborne’s third-inning double was the only other hit for Booneville. Several other players had hard-hit balls, Ward and Taylor Bauer among them, but everything was seemingly hit right at a JHS player.