Lady Cougars reach state tournament

Friday, May 11, 2012
The RHS Lady Cougars are representing their school and community in the Class 2A Softball State Tournament

The Rector Lady Cougars advanced to the finals of the 2A North Regional Tournament at Cedar Ridge High School in Newark with victories over Salem and Marked Tree.

Rector was set to face conference foe Buffalo Island Central in the championship contest Monday, but weekend showers required the game to be rescheduled for Tuesday afternoon. The Lady Cougars were downed in the title game, 11-5. Rector jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning, but gave up nine unearned runs to fall just short of the regional crown.

"It wasn't our best defensive game," RHS head coach Lewis Ernest said. "We made some mistakes that hurt us, but we're not putting our heads down. This team has played well all season, and we're happy to be going to state."

Ernest said his team needs to take this loss and use it as further motivation at the next level.

"We know we're better than that. We're dusting off and getting ready to go back out there ready to play again at state. It's not what happens today; it's how you respond to it."

The Lady Cougars, the number two seed out of 2A North, is set to face 2A West third seed Magazine at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Junction City. A first round win would advance Rector to the quarterfinals against either Magnet Cove or Foreman at 2:30 p.m. Friday. The semifinals are set for noon Saturday. The state final is slated for 10 a.m. Saturday May 19 at Bogel Park on the University of Arkansas Campus in Fayetteville.

Semifinal Win

Rector scored a run in each of the first four innings, which was enough for the girls in blue to hold on for the 4-3 victory over the Lady Indians of Marked Tree Saturday at Newark.

Rector took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Kelly Fowler came home from third following an RBI double by Brittany Fair. The girls went up 2-0 in the top of the second when Fowler doubled in Courtney Shepard from second base.

Marked Tree scored in the bottom of the second to make it 2-1.

Anna Blackshare led off the third inning for the Lady Cougars with a triple and later scored on a sacrifice fly by senior Amanda Bradford.

Rector moved ahead 4-1 in the top of the fourth. Lindsey Ford started the inning with a double. A bunt by Shepard was mishandled by the Marked Tree defense, allowing Ford to take third and moving Shepard to second. Johnna Lopez brought Ford home on a sacrifice bunt.

The Lady Indians made things interesting in the bottom of the fifth, scoring twice to move within a single run, 4-3. Rector escaped the inning with the lead, and Fowler and the Rector defense allowed just one runner on base over the final two innings to preserve the Lady Cougar victory.

Fowler led the Rector offense, going 2-4 with an RBI. Also supplying offense for the Lady Cougars were Fair 1-3 with an RBI, Shepard 1-2, Kendal Gunn 1-3, Ford 1-3, Blackshare 1-4 with a triple, Bradford with a walk and an RBI sac fly and Lopez with an RBI sac bunt.

In the circle, Fowler allowed two earned runs on four hits while ringing up five and walking four in the victory.

First Round

Rector earned a trip to the Class 2A State Tournament at Junction City with a 5-3 win over Salem in first round action Friday at Newark.

Rector plated two runs in both the first and fourth innings and added another in the top of the seventh inning to outlast a three-run effort by Salem in the bottom of the fourth.

Gunn singled in the opening frame and stole her way to third before scoring on a bunt single by Lopez. Lopez scored later in the inning on a double by Blackshare.

Rector went up 4-0 in the top of the fourth. Fair hit a one-out triple and scored on a Fowler double. Ford scored Fowler with a single through the gap.

The Lady Cougars set the final tally in place in the top of the seventh. Taryn Tracy doubled to right, and scored on a single by Ford.

Salem threatened in the bottom of the seventh, but Shepard recovered from a collision in the outfield in time to keep the runner at second. Rector pulled off a critical 1-3-5 double play, with Fowler fielding a bunt to first for one, then Tracy making the throw to Bradford at third where the runner was tagged. The final out came as the next batter flied out to Lopez in center.

Ford led the charge at the plate, finishing 2-3 with two RBIs. Fowler, Blackshare and Lopez added a hit and an RBI each in the win. Also hitting for Rector were Tracy 2-3, Gunn 1-3 with a walk and Fair 1-3.

Fowler allowed three runs on four hits with four strikeouts and four walks.

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