It was a tired but happy Booneville Lady Cat softball team at the end of the Clarksville tournament over the weekend. They had to come through the losers’ bracket after a third-round stumble against Pottsville which meant they had to play — and win — five games in a row with little rest in between in order to take home the trophy.
Pitcher Ashdon Ross put on a tremendous performance, pitching all five games as Booneville subdued Siloam Springs and Fayetteville before reversing the Pottsville loss. Finally, they routed winners’ bracket survivor Ozark in two straight games, 6-0 and 9-1, with Ross giving up only one hit in each game.
"This is the best I’ve ever seen them play," said coach Doc Crowley. "The girls have great chemistry."
Ross threw well over 400 pitches on Saturday alone and also went 11-for-18 batting (.611) on the day. But she was not the only one contributing, as Carley Wooldridge and Hannah McClung each homered and it seemed that every player in the lineup was getting a key hit at one time or another.
The two wins against Ozark cemented their superiority over the Lady Hillbillies as the Lady Cats had also beaten them in Ozark in the season opener Thursday.
Lady Cats 5
Ozark 1 (Thursday)
Booneville drew first blood in the second inning. Mariah Reagan reached on an error and Carley Wooldridge followed with a double to the gap. The run scored on a ground ball by Taylor Bauer. The Lady Cats plated two more in the fourth inning as Morgan Osborne led off with a single and after Reagan was retired, Wooldridge bashed another double. Both runners scored when Camry Robertson’s grounder resulted in an overthrow by the Ozark third baseman.
The Lady Hillbillies, who had been shut down by Ashdon Ross through the first three innings, got one back when Haley Smith hit a solo home run, the first hit Ross had given up. Jodi Allred followed with a single but OHS could do no further damage. In the sixth, Bauer reached on a one-out error and Robertson found the gap with a double. She was retired on a grounder by Jaycie Rodatz, but Ross came through with an infield hit to score Bauer. Hannah McClung made sure of the win when she drove one over the left-field fence in the seventh.
Ross gave up only two hits and struck out four batters, while McClung had three hits and Wooldridge two. The Lady Cats pounded out nine hits and were helped by three Ozark errors.
Booneville found themselves in a 3-0 first-inning hole against Class 6A Siloam Springs in the opening game Friday but three Lady Panther miscues started Booneville rolling in the third inning. Ashdon Ross reached on an error and Whitney Tatum also got on when the Siloam pitcher had an overthrow on a sacrifice attempt. Hannah McClung then walked and Morgan Osborne plated Ross with a sacrifice fly. Tatum also scored on the play when the throw overshot the catcher. SS scored one in the top of the fifth but the Lady Cats showed their mettle. Ross singled and Tatum reached on an error before they both came in on a McClung single. Osborne sacrificed McClung to third and then Mariah Reagan lined one off the second baseman’s glove for the game-winner.
Alma scored first in the next game but then McClung, in at pitcher, limited the Airedalettes to one hit thereafter. Booneville took the lead in the third as Ross reached on an error, was sacrificed to second and scored on McClung’s single. Osborne singled and stole a base before Carley Wooldridge sent them both home with a double. Sabreena Alfaro led off the fourth with a hit and Camry Robertson beat out a bunt. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch and Ross drove Alfaro in with a grounder. A walk to Whitney Tatum was followed by an RBI single from McClung and Osborne also singled before Wooldridge lashed another double to plate the latter two. That was plenty for McClung, who struck out seven.
The first game Saturday against conference rival Pottsville turned into a pitchers’ duel between Ross and the Lady Apaches’ Whitney Madison. Booneville loaded the bases with one out in the third inning and could not score, but Wooldridge took matters into her own hands with a shot over the center-field fence to lead off the fourth. Taylor Bauer followed with a single but was stranded at third. The lack of run support came back to bite the Lady Cats; Ross had retired the first 15 Lady Apaches she faced and the first batter in the sixth hit a routine grounder to third, but McClung overthrew. The runner was sacrificed to second and after Ross rang up a strikeout, the next batter hit a pop-up that was misjudged by Tatum at short as a run scored. Haley Cain then got Pottsville’s first hit with a RBI double and PHS ace Savanna Gosnell retired the Lady Cats in order for the win. Ross fanned seven but was the hard-luck loser.
The Lady Cats thus had to fight their way out of the losers’ bracket and they started nicely with a 6-0 thumping of Siloam Springs. Osborne knocked in Ross, who had singled and stolen a base; she then snagged a bag herself and was driven in by Reagan. Tatum tripled down the left-field line to lead off the fourth and scored on McClung’s single and the Lady Cats blew it open with three in the fifth. McClung and Osborne drew walks and were moved over by Reagan. Wooldridge was then hit by a pitch and Alfaro drew a walk to force in a run before Jaycie Rodatz plated the last two with a single. Ross only gave up a single in the fourth inning and a walk in the fifth.
The team then marched to the next field to face Fayetteville, who took an early 1-0 lead. The Lady Cats went back on top as Reagan was hit by a pitch to lead off the second; after the next two were retired Robertson drew a walk and Rodatz loaded the bases with a single. Ross singled one run home and Tatum was hit by a pitch to force home the second run. After the Purple Dogs tied it back up, Osborne led off the bottom of the third with a double and Reagan moved her to third; Wooldridge then hit a sacrifice fly for the RBI. The Lady Cats expanded the lead when Ross, who had singled and stolen a base, eventually scored on a McClung grounder. FHS got within one but Booneville put it away when Ross smacked a two-RBI single to score Wooldridge, who had singled, and Robertson, who had drawn a walk.
A rematch with Pottsville awaited and this time the Lady Cats capitalized on their chances, touching Pottsville hurler Madison for two in the second. Bauer walked and was moved over by Alfaro before Rodatz laced a hit to score the BHS left fielder. She then stole second and Ross followed with a single. Rodatz ended up trapped in a rundown between third and home but an overthrow of third sent her plateward. McClung smashed her second home run of the season to center field to lead off the third but the Lady Apaches came off the deck to score three in the top of the fourth to tie the game. Gosnell was sent in by PHS to pitch the fourth but this time the Lady Cats were ready. Rodatz and Ross slammed back-to-back doubles for one run, a Tatum RBI single plated Ross and McClung doubled for the last run. Ross then picked up the win by pitching a scoreless fifth inning.
Booneville then faced Ozark, who had upended Pottsville in the winners’ bracket final, and the Lady Cats needed two wins for the title. After the first two innings were scoreless, Booneville rattled OHS for four in the third. Robertson started it with a single and Rodatz walked before Ross hit a grounder to second. Hustling all the way, Robertson beat the throw to third and Tatum got the first RBI on a groundout. McClung then singled Ross home, took second on the throw and third on a wild pitch before scoring on Osborne’s fly ball. BHS added two more in the fourth as Bauer singled and Robertson followed with a double. Both runners scored on an overthrow by the third baseman. Ross faced the minimum, striking out seven and giving up one hit; that runner was cut down by Reagan trying to steal second.
Lady Cats 9 Ozark 1
The game, for all intents and purposes, was over after two innings. Ross led off with a single and stole second; Tatum sacrificed her to third and McClung picked up an RBI with a single. Osborne and Reagan followed with base hits; Osborne was forced out but Wooldridge beat out a grounder to score one run and two more came in on an Ozark error. Booneville loaded the bases in the second after one out and all three runners ended up scoring. Ross and Tatum started it with singles before McClung drew a walk and Kelcee Herrera came in to run for her. Osborne knocked in Ross with a flyout and Reagan picked up Tatum with a hit before Wooldridge, who had six doubles on the week, smashed one to the right-center gap to score Herrera and Reagan.
Robertson singled and moved up on a wild pitch to start the third and Rodatz followed with a hit before Ross, fittingly, picked up the final RBI with a base knock. The Lady Hillbillies scored a meaningless unearned run in the fourth inning as the Lady Cats avoided any further damage and were able to celebrate both a tournament championship and Reagan’s birthday.
Ross again gave up only one base hit; in the three games against Ozark, she has allowed only four safeties. Wooldridge had three RBIs, and coach Doc Crowley was able to let everybody get in the game.