Lady Mohawks are Regional Champs
Throughout the season the Lady Mohawk softball team experienced a roller coaster of a campaign, sparkling at times and stumbling at others. But, fortunately the Tribe pulled all the pieces together this past week, as they powered through the 3A Region 3 bracket at Harrison.
The squad, which included most of the major components from last year's playoff team, earned another visit to the state tournament with the championship, and a high seed in the bracket. They'll be in action at 3 p.m. Thursday against Paris in their first round contest.
The Lady Tigers of Valley Springs, who consider games in Harrison home affairs, were the first obstacle for the Tribe last Thursday. And, despite spotting the home team two runs in the first, and another in the second, the Mohawks roared back with a five run third to take the lead. The Lady Tigers answered with two more in the home half of the fifth, to cut the Mohawk lead to 5-4. But, the PHS squad tacked-on five more in the top of the fourth, and added two more in the fifth. Hannah Powell, who worked the complete game, shut down Valley Springs in the home half of the fourth and fifth, and the Tribe won by way of the run rule by a score of 12-5.
The Mohawks advance with 12 runs on 13 hits and 4 errors, while Valley Springs scored 5 runs on 11 hits and also had 4 errors. Powell was also 3 for 4 with 2 RBI and 2 runs scored while seniors MaKalia Beck and Shelby Morgan were both 2 for 4 with Morgan driving in 2 and scoring 1 while Beck drove in a run and Devyn Staples was 1 for 3 with two walks, and scored each time she reached base.
With the win over Valley Springs the Lady Mohawks automatically earned a spot in this week's state tournament, being hosted by Smackover-Norphlet. They also earned a second round match-up with a familiar foe, as they took on the Manila Lady Lions.
Once again Powell got the call, and despite giving up 7 hits, also got the win in the circle as the game went the full seven innings. The Tribe wasted little time, scoring a run in the top half of the first and adding two more in the second. But, the Mohawks failed to score in the third, fourth and fifth innings, while the Lady Lions notched a run in each frame, as the two teams were tied at 3-3 after five.
But, the Mohawks were able to answer with a run in the top of the sixth, then hold the Lions scoreless the last two innings, to take the 4-3 decision.
Staples, Grayson Murray and Ally Kilbreath were all 2 for 4 on the day, while Beck, Taylor Choate, Lexi Herren and Powell all had hits as well. Beck, Choate, Herren and Staples scored the four Mohawk runs, as they recorded 10 hits and 5 errors on the game. Meanwhile, for Manila they had 3 runs on 7 hits and 4 errors in the loss.
The Friday win over Manila set the tone for Saturday, as the Tribe took on another conference mate from 3A-3, Rivercrest. Having played, and lost to, the Lady Colts four times during the season the Lady Mohawks were looking to deliver some pay back. And, the Tribe did just that as they run-ruled the Rivercrest squad 12-1 in five innings.
The Mohawks jumped to an early lead in the regional title game as the home team, and led 2-0 after one. As things turned out it was enough to gain the title.
Neither team scored in the second, but the Mohawks added another run in the bottom of the third to extend their lead to 3-0. The Lady Colts got their lone run in the top of the fourth, but theTribe responded with three more runs in the home half of the inning to extend their lead to 6-1. Rivercrest went quietly in the top of the fifth, and the Mohawks pounded out six more runs in the bottom of the inning to set the final score--winning by virtue of the 10 or more run rule after five innings.
"We weren't sure if the run rule was in effect in regional games, it was a little crazy when we realized we had won at the end of the fifth inning," assistant coach Melissa Turner later noted.
The Mohawks scored the 12 runs on just 11 hits, and had a strong defensive performance with just one error. Meanwhile, the Lady Colts scored just the lone run despite getting 9 hits, and they commited 5 errors in the loss.
Choate was 2 for 2 with a walk and scored 2 runs; Beck and Herren were both 2 for 3 and each scored 2 runs while Kilbreath was 2 for 3 and scored one; Braelyn Rhodes was 1 for 3 and Morgan and Staples were both 1 for 4 and scored 2 runs while Murray was 1 for 4 and scored 1 run.
"There are so many emotions flowing right now, but the one that stands out the most is gratitude," Coach Nikki Speer commented later. "I am so grateful and honored to be on this ride with this group of girls. Their drive and determination has been amazing this past three days."
Speer also had high praise for the way the team handled the task of facing the Lady Colts, despite their recent history. "Beating a team that has beat you four times in regular season, and doing so 12-1 in five innings was a beautiful thing to witness. The confidence on my girl's faces grew a little every inning. What a pleasure it is to be a part of this team. I am so proud of all my girls, my amazing assistant, and every cheering fan!"
With the regional title the Lady Mohawks advance to this week's state tournament at Smackover-Norphlet, and a first round game at 3:00 Thursday afternoon against Paris. With a win they'll advance to face the winner of the Cossatot River-Harmony Grove game at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, May 13. A win in the second round will earn them a spot in the semi-finals, set for noon on Saturday. The other teams in the upper half of the bracket with the Lady Mohawks are Atkins, Melbourne, Rose Bud and Horatio. In the lower half of the bracket are Bald Knob, Smackover, Booneville, Manila, Genoa Central, Perryville, Rivercrest and Lamar.
The 3A state championship will be played at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 21, in Bogle Park, on the U of A campus in Fayetteville.