Lady 'Hounds Stumble at State Following Injury to Star Pitcher
The Lady Greyhound's season came to a close last week in the first round at state in a most bizarre fashion, after the squad dropped a close contest in the regional final.
Both Marmaduke and Midland entered Tuesday afternoon's (May 12) rain-delayed 2A Regional softball championship game sporting long winning streaks. The Lady Greyhounds came in winners of 18 in a row while the Lady Mustangs had reeled off 24 straight victories. When the afternoon was over, Midland senior Paisley Pratt out-dueled Marmaduke's Sammi Henry to the tune of a 1-0 win for the Lady Mustangs.
Midland scored the only run Pratt would need in the bottom of the third inning when Emily Stevens ripped a two-out single, scoring Savannah Hooper from second base. Meanwhile, Pratt sailed through the Lady Greyhound lineup, striking out 16 Marmaduke batters, including the last nine in a row. The hard throwing right hander gave up an infield single to Natalie Lentz in the fourth inning, the Lady Greyhounds' only hit of the game.
Henry allowed just four hits on the afternoon, but suffered the loss. Center fielder April Kennedy turned in a defensive gem for Marmaduke in the bottom of the fourth inning, throwing out Midland's Kelly Lytle at the plate. Lytle was attempting to score on Shaylee Sorrels' base hit up the middle.
Marmaduke reached the finals earlier in the day with a 4-1 victory over Salem. Henry went the distance to pick up the win, allowing six hits and one run. The sophomore right hander fanned six and walked one.
Jordan Mays led the Lady Greyhound offense, blasting a home run and a single. Lentz had a pair of hits and two RBI while Kennedy added two singles.
"We ran into a very good team today," said Marmaduke coach Steve Richey. "Midland has won a lot of games and they have a very dominant pitcher. They are also the defending 1A State Champs. We knew they would be tough," said Richey.
"We've been playing pretty good all year," said Midland coach Brett Barber. "That was our 25th straight win, making us 29-2 on the year. This is a seasoned group. We've played a real tough schedule this year and we've scheduled up. One of our two losses was to 7A North Little Rock. We knew Marmaduke could hit the ball, but Paisley has just been unbelievable this season. It was a great win for us," concluded Barber.
Marmaduke star softball pitcher Sammi Henry was walking through the stands last week in Norphlet preparing to watch a few other teams play before beginning the first Greyhound game in the state tournament when she was blindsided by a wild ball thrown from another field where a team was practicing.
Henry was struck in the jaw, breaking it.
"It broke her jaw in two places," Lady Greyhound coach Steve Richey said. "They had to pull two teeth and they're wiring her jaw shut."
The Lady Greyhounds were disheartened and worried about their teammate as they carried on to the first round of the state tournament against Magazine on Thursday.
Marmaduke lost 2-0.
Brooke Swearengen stepped in to pitch in place of Henry and "did a phenomenal job," Richey said. Swearingen allowed only two hits in the first inning and then shut down Magazine. Tabitha Hyten, Bailey Bridges, Natalie Lentz and Jordan Mays all had hits, but the emotional toll of watching Henry go down made it difficult for the team to put any runs together. The Lady Hounds were eliminated from the state tournament in the first round, ending their outstanding season.
"We didn't play our best for sure, but the whole team was worried about Henry and wondering what was going on with her," Richey said. "It was rough on everybody."