Following a disappointing loss to Mena last Tuesday that knocked Booneville out of a first-place tie in the 4-4A, Lady Cat softball coach Doc Crowley set a new goal. This was to at least finish second so Booneville would then get an automatic regional berth.
The first step was against Dardanelle last Friday, and BHS took out their frustrations on the Lady Lizards. Brittany Ward and Taylor Nichols each went 4-for-4 and Morgan Osborne drove in three runs as the Lady Cats hammered out 19 hits in a 13-4 pasting of DHS.
For Nichols, it was the end of a protracted batting slump that saw her average dip to as low as .167, while for Ward it was the continuation of a tear the likes of which have not been seen in Booneville softball for at least nine years. The senior, who switched to catcher for the Dardanelle game, is now 17-for-24 (.708) over the last two weeks and has raised her batting average to an even .500.
The Lady Cats (10-8, 4-1 in 4-4A) play their final home game of the season on Friday as conference foe Dover comes to town. A win would put the Lady Cats no worse than a tie for second and with Mena still having to play Pottsville and a red-hot Waldron team, all kinds of possibilities could arise.
Mena 4 Booneville 2
Booneville pitcher Ashdon Ross and her counterpart from Mena, Jordan Ward, each faced the minimum number of batters over the first three innings. Ross was helped out by catcher Hannah McClung, who gunned down two Mena baserunners trying to steal. Neither had given up a hit through three innings but the top of the fourth saw Mena break through.
A walk to leadoff batter Bailey Bunch was followed by a drag bunt that allowed Kenzie Spurgin to reach. Ross threw it in the dirt trying to retire the runner going to third, and Madi Brotherton followed with another bunt on which Bunch beat the tag at the plate. Ariel Hartin dropped down Mena’s fourth consecutive bunt and Kaitlynn Davis missed her going by as Spurgin crossed the plate. A miscommunication allowed Brotherton to steal home and while the next bunt was fielded cleanly to retire the batter, the throw to second was low and Hartin went to third. Darian Torix’s bunt was fielded by Ross who threw to McClung to get Hartin, but the Booneville catcher dropped the ball for the last Mena run of the inning.
Booneville got two back in the bottom of the inning, but it could have been so much more. Morgan Osborne led off with a walk and Marissa O’Neal dropped a bunt that Spurgin didn’t handle cleanly. Osborne led O’Neal into a double steal and McClung followed with an RBI single up the middle. However, O’Neal was picked off third and this proved costly as Brittany Ward followed with a single. After she stole second, Bunch put one in the dirt but Jaycie Rodatz, running for McClung, could not beat the throw back. Again, this came back to haunt Booneville as Taylor Nichols dropped a single to right after fouling off a number of pitches. Brittany Ward then crossed the plate on another wild pitch, but Booneville got nothing more.
Both pitchers then settled back down and hung zeroes on the board. Booneville got only one more hit, a smash by Ross up the middle in the fifth that clipped Jordan Ward’s glove. Ross stole second but was left stranded there. She then got out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the seventh by getting Hartin to fly out to Lilly Dobbs in left field, but Booneville could not rally in the bottom of the inning.
BHS got three of their four hits in the fourth inning but fielding and baserunning blunders was what cost Booneville the game against the #2 team in Class 4A. Crowley singled out Dobbs for outstanding defensive work in the game.
Lady Cats 13 Dardanelle 4
After each side went quietly in the first inning, Booneville took charge with two in the second frame. Brittany Ward singled and advanced on a Dardanelle error, with Taylor Nichols delivering a two-out double for the RBI. Jacque Hall’s single plated Jaycie Rodatz, who was courtesy running for the Booneville pitcher.
The Lady Lizards halved Booneville’s lead as Kelly Farris knocked in Allison Alverson in the bottom of the second but BHS broke it open with three in the third. Ashdon Ross, Morgan Osborne, Hannah McClung, Marissa O’Neal and Ward strung five singles together with O’Neal and Ward getting RBIs. After Dardanelle picked up another run in the bottom of the third, Booneville got three more in the top of the fourth. Taylor Bauer singled and got to second on an error. Ross then beat out a hit and an error by the first baseman on a ball hit by Osborne loaded the bases. O’Neal delivered a sacrifice fly and Ward’s double cleared the rest of the bases.
Nichols led off the fifth with a double and Rodatz advanced to third on a Hall sacrifice bunt. Bauer followed with a squeeze bunt to drive in the run. Dardanelle got a run in the bottom of the fifth but Booneville smacked the Lady Lizards down for good with a four-run seventh. Ward led off with a single and circled the bases on three Dardanelle errors. Two outs later, Hall, Bauer and Ross all singled and Osborne cleared the bases with a double.
Ward and Nichols accounted for eight of Booneville’s 19 hits; Osborne and Ross added three more each. The Lady Cats took full advantage of seven Dardanelle errors while committing none themselves as Nichols (7-3) picked up the pitching victory.