With form playing out in the 4-4A Conference softball tournament, it was a battle of the Lady Bearcats for the championship in Waldron last Tuesday as Booneville faced Mena for the second time this season. Booneville had their chances but in the end the score was the same as in their regular-season meeting as Mena took a 4-2 win.
Booneville did have a moment to remember as they turned a triple play in the bottom of the fourth inning. It gave them some momentum as they cut a 2-0 deficit in half in the top of the fifth inning, but Mena scored twice in the bottom of the fifth and held on.
The Lady Cats were slated to begin regional play last Friday in Farmington against Prairie Grove, but the tournament was twice delayed by the unprecedented May snow storm that hit Northwest Arkansas. BHS therefore took the field on Monday. A win over the Lady Tigers would send Booneville to the state tournament later this week in Ashdown. If they advance out of regional play, the Lady Cats will play either tomorrow or Friday, depending on their seeding.
Booneville pitcher Ashdon Ross and her Mena counterpart Jordan Ward got through the first two innings without giving up a run, though both teams had chances to score. Mena put two runners on in the first and Marissa O’Neal reached on an infield hit in the Booneville second, but all those runners were left stranded.
Mena broke through with two outs in the bottom of the third. Kenzie Spurgin got a base hit to left before Madi Brotherton drove a Ross offering to the center field fence for an RBI. She scored on Ariel Hartin’s single.
They then tried to put it away in the bottom of the fourth. Kate Self reached on an error and was replaced by a courtesy runner, who stole second. Lexi Hansard and Darian Torix followed with singles to load the bases. Hannah Lochala then hit a liner to second baseman Taylor Nichols. The runner at first held but the ones on second and third broke on contact; Nichols stepped on second base to retire Hansard and threw to Kaitlynn Davis at third, who tagged the runner to complete the triple play.
That got Booneville going as, with one out, Jacque Hall and Taylor Bauer drew consecutive walks. A wild pitch by Ward advanced both runners and took the Mena pitcher out of the game, to be replaced by Hartin. After the next batter was retired, Ross hit one to the left of the second baseman, who came up with it but had no play as pinch runner Jaycie Rodatz came in to score to make it 2-1.
Bailey Bunch singled to lead off the next inning but was thrown out stealing by Booneville catcher Hannah McClung. However, singles by Spurgin, Brotherton and Hartin were worth one run. After a walk reloaded the bases, Hansard hit one that O’Neal managed to knock down, but she had no play as Brotherton scored.
Booneville got something going again in the seventh inning as Davis led off with a double off the left field wall; Paige Joyce ran for her and advanced on Hall’s grounder. Bauer got an RBI with a groundout to the shortstop but Lilly Dobbs popped out to end the game. BHS managed only four hits in the game, two of them of the infield variety, while Mena touched up Ross for 10 safeties.