SPORTS>> Beebe ladies top Goblins, Leopards
By Ray Benton
Leader sports editor
The Beebe Lady Badgers played their way to within one win of the Class AAAA State Fastpitch Softball Championship on Saturday and Monday. The Lady Badgers played their semifinal matchup with Marion Tuesday night after Leader deadlines; a win in that game would send the Beebe ladies to Fayetteville for the championship game Saturday.
The Lady Badgers cruised through their first-round opponent Saturday, hammering Harrison 9-1. The Lady Badgers took advantage of several Harrison mistakes, even forcing a few with aggressive base running and excellent small ball-play.
Beebe committed a few errors as well, with two of them leading to Harrison’s only run in the first inning.
A high throw to first base left a Lady Goblin safe at second base.
Another error in the infield allowed that runner to score.
Beebe coach Terry Flenor decided to put a bigger target at first base after the miscue, replacing senior Heather Stroud with tall freshman Ashley Watkins.
Beebe still overthrew Watkins on one occasion, but pitcher Crystal Robinson got out of the jam by striking out the next batter for the third out of the fifth inning.
Later in the game with Beebe leading 4-1, Flenor informed Stroud that she should be ready to hit if anyone got on base in the bottom of the fifth.
With two outs, Bailey Thomas reached base and Stroud’s number was called.
The senior responded with a double that bounced off the left field wall 190 feet away to spark a two-out rally that had Beebe up 8-1 at the end of the fifth.
Nine-hole hitter Laura Fore-man drilled one off the wall in the sixth, and Robinson drove her home to set the final margin.
Things weren’t quite as easy on Monday, but Beebe’s lone runs in the second and fourth innings were all they needed as Robinson shut down the Lady Leopards.
Robinson threw a two-hitter while Beebe’s outfield never had to get an out.
“Crystal did a great job,” Flenor said. “It’s pretty good when your outfield doesn’t have to make a play all day.”
First-inning mistakes again put the Lady Badgers at an early disadvantage, as Malvern scored its unearned run in the top of the first.
A Lady Leopard attempted to steal third base. Beebe catcher Sara Flenor’s throw was in the dirt and bounced into left field, allowing the run to score.
Flenor atoned for the mistake later by throwing out potential base stealers three times later in the game.
The Lady Badgers evened the score in the bottom of the second. Stroud singled and scored two batters later on an RBI double by Foreman. Beebe took the lead for good in the fourth when Robinson singled to score freshman Brandi Burkhalter, who had reached on an infield single.
“They were very aggressive when they were able to get runners on base,” Flenor said of Malvern. “We were fortunate to keep them off the base paths for the most part. And Sara did a good job after that one mistake in the first.”
The win was also the 30th of the year for the Lady Badgers, which is easily a school record. Beebe improved to 30-4 with Monday’s victory.
NORTH PULASKI VS HOPE
The Lady Falcons couldn’t stop the power hitting and aggressive base running of defending state champion Hope in the first round Saturday.
The Lady Bobcats started scoring with a first-inning bomb, and added nine more over the next six innings to win 10-0. The Lady Falcons finish the season with a 15-10 record.