Lady Cougars Hold Off Lady Mohawks
With nothing more than bragging rights on the line, the Rector Lady Cougars visited the Piggott Lady Mohawks Monday, April 22 at Independence Park. And, when the dust had cleared the visitors had escaped with a 9-4 non-conference win over their hosts.
Both squads were wrapping up regular season play early this week, with the district tournaments set to get underway Thursday.
The Lady Mohawks got down early in the contest, and took several innings to find their offensive rhythm as they took the loss. For the Lady Cougars, a strong pitching performance by senior Kelly Fowler was again key to the victory as she was able to protect the early lead. Fowler, the workhouse of the Cougar line-up, got the win while fanning 10 batters. Meanwhile, Mohawk freshman Devyn Staples took the loss, but continues to improve as the season has progressed.
Early in the game the Lady Cougar bats came to life, staking the squad to a 7-1 lead. Pacing the offensive attack was Kendall Gunn with a 4 for 4 day, including a homerun. Also contributing for the Cougars were Anna Blackshare, Courtney Shepard and Colby Lynch with 3 for 4 games while Tarryn Tracy was 2 for 4 on the contest.
On the other hand, the Lady Mohawks struggled at the plate against the talented senior and, in the words of Coach Nikki Speer, "had a very hard time putting runs up on the board."
The Tribe did attempt a rally in the late innings, scoring four runs to cut into the Cougar lead. But, the visitors in blue shut down the Mohawk bats down the stretch to preserve the win.
The contest also served as the senior game for the Lady Mohawks, as Allison Crittenden and Mallory Wright were making their final regular season appearance at Independence Park. But, the duo will have another chance to perform before a home crowd as the Tribe will be hosting the 3A-3 conference tournament beginning Thursday.
The Lady Cougars notched three victories last week, securing the third seed in the upcoming district tournament.
Rector took two from Cross County this past Wednesday in Wynne.
The Lady Cougars won the first half of the doubleheader in strong fashion, picking up a 13-0 win in four innings. Rector plated three runs in each of the first three innings for a 9-0 lead before finishing the contest with four more runs in the fourth.
Brittany Fair and Kendal Gunn homered for Rector in the contest. Fair hit a two-run shot in the fourth while Gunn legged out an inside-the-park homer in the third. Fair finished the game 1-2 with two RBIs and walk. Gunn went 1-2 with an RBI and was hit by a pitch.
Also hitting for Rector were: Anna Blackshare, 2-3 with two RBIs; Kelly Fowler 1-3 with an RBI; Lindsey Ford, 1-1 with a walk and HBP; Courtney Shepard, 1-2; Kaitlyn Essman, 1-2 with a walk and Cheyenne Ellis, 1-1.
Kelly Fowler picked up the win in the circle. She allowed two hits and struck out eight.
The Lady Cougars won the second half of the doubleheader with Cross County, 8-3, in five innings.
The Lady Cougars put up five runs in the first inning, taking a 5-1 advantage in the opening frame. Lenae Haley doubled to score Cheyenne Ellis to start off the scoring. Blackshare followed with a two-run homer. Colby Lynch and Shepard also came home in the frame, with both stealing the plate.
Rector plated two insurance runs in the second, including an inside-the-park homerun by Ellis, and one run in the fifth.
Blackshare led the Lady Cougars with a 3-3 effort with three RBIs, including her big blast. Ellis finished 2-3 with a homer. Haley finished with an RBI double. Tori Hill, Lynch and Shepard each had a single in the win.
The Lady Cougars defeated host McCrory, 7-6, in extra innings on Tuesday, April 16.
With the game knotted at 6-6, Blackshare singled in the top of the eighth, allowing Kelly Fowler to advance from second. McCrory mishandled the throw to the infield, allowing Fowler to take home plate to put Rector up, 7-6.
Fowler worked a one, two, three frame in the bottom of the eight to secure the win for the Lady Cougars.
Rector scored on a leadoff homerun by Blackshare in the first inning. The Lady Cougars added two runs in the second frame, including a homerun over the left field fence by Brittany Fair, to jump out to a 3-0 lead. McCrory bounced back with two runs in the bottom of the fourth. Gunn and Ford had an RBI each in the fifth inning as the Lady Cougars moved ahead, 5-2. McCrory tied the game at 5-5 in the sixth. Both teams scored in the seventh to leave the game tied at 6-6.
Blackshare finished the day 3-5 with a homerun and two RBIs.
Also hitting for the Lady Cougars were: Gunn, 2-4 with an RBI; Tarryn Tracy, 3-4 with an RBI; Ford, 2-5 with an RBI; Fair, 1-3 with a homerun; Lynch, 2-4 and Shepard, 2-4.
The Lady Cougars finished the regular season at 15-4-1 overall and 10-4 to finish third in conference 2A-3. Rector will host the district tourney beginning Thursday. The Lady Cougars have a first round bye, and await the winner of Thursday's McCrory-EPC matchup at 3:30 p.m. Friday.
The Piggott Lady Mohawks closed out the regular season Tuesday, April 23 with a 9-0 win at Walnut Ridge. Devyn Staples got the win, striking out 5. She also hit a 3 RBI triple in the second, while Mallory Wright and Melinda Blackmon both went 3 for 4. "It was a great non-conference win for us as we prepare for the District Tournament," Coach Nikki Speer said of the win.
The Tribe will be in action at 5 p.m. Thursday, at Independence Park in Piggott as they take on Manila.
Checking the 3A-3 conference tournament schedule. The first game of the bracket will begin at 3:30 p.m. as the number six and seven seeds meet, as the Hoxie Lady Mustangs face the Osceola Lady Seminole.
The Lady Mohawks are slated to play in the 5 p.m. contest Thursday, as they will face the Manila Lady Lions. The two teams split on the season, and ended up in a three way tie with Corning, and will play as the four-five seeds.
The winner of the Hoxie-Osceola game will take on the third seeded Corning Lady Bobcats at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the other quarter-final.
With a win over Manila the Lady Mohawks will advance to the semi-finals, and an automatic trip to the regional tournament. With a win the Tribe will be facing the top seeded Rivercrest Lady Colts at 3:30 p.m. Friday, April 26. The other semi-final will be played at 5 p.m. and will feature the second seeded Harrisburg Lady Hornets against the winner of the Hoxie/Osceola and Corning contest.
The conference championship game between the two winners will be played at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 27. The final had originally been scheduled for Monday, April 29 but was switched to the Saturday morning start by a vote of the conference coaches.
The four teams who qualify for the semi-finals will earn berths in the 3A regional being played May 3 to 6 at Harrison and hosted by Bergman High School. The top four teams from the regional will advance to the 3A state softball tournament, being played May 9 to 11 at White Hall High School.
At Rector the bracket is as follows, The first of Thursday's games will be East Poinsett County, the seventh seed, facing sixth seed McCrory at 3:30 p.m. Eighth seed Cross County will meet fifth seed Marmaduke at 5 p.m. Thursday.
The hosting Lady Cougars, the third seed in the tourney, will see action at 3:30 p.m. Friday. Rector will face the winner of the McCrory-EPC contest. Fourth seed Riverside awaits the winner of Cross County-Marmaduke at 5 p.m. Friday.
The semifinals will be played Monday. Marked Tree, the second seed, will play the winner of the Rector and McCrory-EPC quarterfinal at 3:30 p.m. Monday. Top seed Buffalo Island Central will face the winner of the Riverside and Cross County-Marmaduke quarterfinal at 5 p.m. Monday.
The tournament final will be held at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Rector.
With a quarterfinal victory, the Lady Cougars will automatically qualify for the regional tournament set to begin Friday, May 3 at Tuckerman.
The Cougar baseball team is also set to host the 2A-3 boys' district tourney beginning Thursday. Final seedings for the boys was not set as the Times-Democrat went to press Tuesday; however, the Cougars are expected to be in action during Thursday's games.
Results will be posted to the Clay County Times-Democrat website as they are available.