Lady Cougars Second in Regional, Off to State Tournament
After scratching and clawing their way through the regional bracket, and into the finals, the Rector Lady Cougars dropped a 3-1 loss to Calico Rock Monday evening at Brockwell. The RHS girls had advanced to the championship game at ICC with a gutsy win over the host Lady Cougars in the first round, and a walk-off seventh inning victory over Viola earlier in the day on Monday in the semifinals. The Cougars will play in the first round of the 1A state softball tournament Thursday afternoon at Mountain Home.
The first round game with host Izard County Consolidated was a close affair, as the Rector girls faced the other Lady Cougars in the bracket. Holding ICC scoreless in the top of the first, the Lady Cougars plated a run in the home half of the inning. With senior Maddie Hobbs working on the mound this would prove to be all the Rector girls would need, although they would tack-on an insurance run in the sixth to set the final.
“We played some really good defense, it was a good game,” Coach David Hendrix said of the win.
Hobbs worked the full game, giving up four hits while striking out six as she faced 24 batters in posting the shut-out. Mylesa Gant was two-for-three with an RBI single and was hit by a pitch, while Colbie Robinson was two-for-three and scored both RHS runs. Haleigh Ellis was one-for-two with a double and Alexis McKnight was one-for-three with a single.
The victory propelled the girls in blue into the semifinals on Monday, and earned them a spot in the upcoming 1A state.
The Cougars drew the Viola Longhorns in the second round, and battled the 20-plus-win team into the final inning before sealing the win. Looking to their talented pitchers, the two squads battled through the first inning scoreless. Viola struck first in the top of the second with their first run, but the Lady Cougars answered in the home half of the third with three runs to take a 3-1 advantage into the fourth. Viola scored two in the top of the fifth to tie the game, then took the lead in the top of the sixth. But, the Lady Cougars answered in the bottom of the inning, and tied the score at 4-4 going into the seventh.
Hobbs took care of business in the top of the inning, giving the RHS girls a chance and they took full advantage.
Junior Sawyer Hendrix provided the drama, slapping a walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh to notch the 5-4 win.
On the day Hendrix went two-for-four and drove in three of the Cougar runs, Gant was two-for-three and drove in one, Madison Stokes was two-for-thre and scored a run, while Robinson and McKnight were both two-for-four with runs scored. Hobbs and Ellis also got hits to help the cause.
In the circle, Hobbs faced 34 batters while giving up 11 hits, striking out four and walking three Lady Longhorns.
The win over Viola earned the Lady Cougars a spot in the finals Monday evening, and a showdown with the Lady Pirates of Calico Rock. “We just didn't bring our bats,” Hendrix said of the 3-1 loss.
With their aces in the circle, the two teams battled scoreless through the first two and one-half innings, with the Pirates scoring a run in the bottom of the third to take the lead. After a scoreless fourth, the Lady Cougars answered in the top of the fifth with their only run of the game as McKnight drove in Shianne Rients.
Calico Rock broke the deadlock with a two-run single in the bottom of the sixth, earning them the 3-1 win and regional title.
McKnight had a single and a double, Robinson had a double while Ellis, Shianne Rients and Michaela Rients all had singles to their credit.
Hobbs had a strong performance, but suffered from run support, as she faced 24 Lady Pirates while giving up five hits and walking only two. At one point, 10 Calico Rock batters were sat down in a row.
The Lady Cougars will open state tournament play at 5:30 Thursday afternoon at Mountain Home as they take on the Lead Hill Lady Tigers (12-4), the second place finisher from the 1A Region 1 tourney at Harrison. With a win they'll advance to take on the winner of the Concord-Bradley/Scranton game at 2:30 p.m. on Friday for a spot in Saturday's Final Four.
The complete bracket may be found on the Arkansas Activities Association website at www.ahsaa.org