SPORTS>> Ruff-Neks take ASA state title
Leader sports editor
Things didn’t go as easily as they were supposed to, but the Cabot Ruff-Neks 12-under fastpitch team did manage to win the ASA state championship game Sunday afternoon in Cabot.
The Ruff-Neks had cruised, for the most part, through the winners’ bracket, but met up with a determined Hot Springs team that didn’t plan to lay down without a fight.
The Purple Magic came out of the losers’ bracket and beat Cabot 5-2 to force the “if” game to determine the champion.
The Ruff-Neks gathered their focus in game two, and got an outstanding performance from pitcher Emily Bass to win 4-0 and claim the state title.
“Sometimes you just can’t tell what youngsters are going to do,” Ruff-Neks coach Tim Marvin said. “They had already beaten this team earlier in the tournament, so I think they may have just gone in there with the mindset that it would just happen again, instead of going in with the focus they needed. They gained that focus though and played a very complete game in the second one.”
Bass threw the entire game, giving up just one hit while striking out seven and walking none.
Offensively, neither team did much until the third inning. That’s when Cabot finally got on the board.
Kendall Colderon led off the bottom of the third with a double to the fence in center field. Mallory Sexton entered to pinch run and stole third base. She scored the game’s first run on an RBI, sacrifice fly by Chelsea Conrade.
The Ruff-Neks added two more to that total in the bottom of the next inning. Bailey Lowery hit a fly ball that fell in shallow left center field and left her safely at second base. Guess then reached on an error at shortstop that put runners at first and third.
Nikki King followed with a sacrifice bunt that scored Guess, and Tara Boyd hit an RBI groundout to make it 3-0 Cabot after four.
The final run came in the fifth. Conrade walked and reached second on a passed ball. Makenzi Drake singled to left field, and Kristy Flesher did the same to score Conrade.
ASA didn’t name a tournament MVP, and Marvin was reluctant to try and pick one from his team.
“As you can see with how we scored our runs in the final game, this bunch plays as a team,” Marvin said. “Everybody contributes. That’s just the makeup of this team.”
The Ruff-Neks will take part in the International Baseball and Softball Association World Series this weekend in Jacksonville. The next week, they will head off to Gulf Port, Mississippi, for the NFSA World Series.