SPORTS >> Lady Panthers keeping league win streak alive
Leader sports editor
The Cabot Lady Panthers continue to make a strong run in closing the regular season.
After handing Jacksonville its first loss of the conference season last Thursday 3-2, the Lady Panthers have since swept Mountain Home and knocked off Jonesboro to improve to 11-1 in conference play, a half game behind 12-1 Jacksonville with Sylvan Hills and Jacksonville left on the schedule.
Last Friday the Cabot ladies survived a major scare in game one at Mountain Home, but prevailed 2-1. Game two was much different, as Cabot dominated throughout a 10-0 victory.
On Monday, Cabot led 7-0 after five and a half innings when heavy rain descended upon the field, cutting the game short, but late enough to call it an official game.
At Mountain Home, Cabot held a 1-0 lead in the top of the fifth inning when freshman pitcher Cherie’ Barfield made her only mistake of the night.
She left a pitch up in the strike zone, and Lady Bomber Erica Brown drilled it for a solo-home run to tie the game.
Cabot couldn’t score in the bottom of the inning, but got the game winner in the sixth. Crystal Cox led off with a double, and Becca Bakalekos drove her in with a one-out single to right centerfield.
Mountain Home threatened in the top of the seventh when Barfield issued a one-out walk. She then fanned the next batter and forced a pop-up in the infield to seal the victory.
Barfield threw a four-hitter in game one and struck out 13 Lady Bombers.
She was just as good in game two’s shutout victory, giving up just three hits while sitting down eight.
She didn’t need much offensive support in the nightcap, but she got plenty. The Lady Panthers pounded out 16 base hits in the run-rule victory.
Cox, Haley Dougan and Rachel Glover all had at least three base hits in the game. Dougan went 3 for 5 with two runs scored from the two-hole. Cox was 3 for 4 with two runs and an RBI, but the sophomore Glover stole the show.
The first baseman went 4 for 4, including a home run and three RBIs.
Kala Hart went 2 for 4 and drove in four runs while Bakalekos went 2 for 4 with one RBI.
The Lady Panthers got one run in the first, three in the third, one in the fourth, four in the sixth and the 10th run in the top of the seventh to end the game early.
“The kids did a great job maintaining their focus after such an emotional game on Thursday,” Cabot coach Becky Steward said of Friday’s good performance.
The pitching hasn’t been bad lately either.
“Other than that one pitch in the fifth, Cherie’ did a great job keeping Mountain Home off balance,” Steward said.
Cabot picked up where it left off against Jonesboro, compiling 11 base hits in just five turns at bat.
Cox and Jessica Walton led the way, going 2 for 3 with two RBI’s apiece. Barfield threw another three-hit, eight-strikeout jewel and the Lady Panthers improved to 18-6 on the season.
They are scheduled to finish conference play this week if weather permits. Cabot closes with two big road games. The first stop is at Sylvan Hills Wednesday, which provides the Lady Panthers a chance to avenge their only East loss of the season.
After that is a trip to Dupree Park on Thursday for a game that will likely decide the conference championship against Jackson-ville. The AAAAA-East conference has been won by Cabot or Jacksonville every year since the inception of fastpitch softball eight years ago. Cabot won the season finale at JHS to secure the league title a year ago.