SPORTS >> Lady Devils moving on
Leader sports editor
The Jacksonville Lady Red Devils advanced to the second round of the class AAAAA state tournament Monday by beating Fort Smith Northside 3-0 on the strength of a no-hitter by junior pitcher Jessica Bock.
Northside had just one base runner, that off an error in the sixth inning, as Bock struck out nine Lady Grizzlies.
The Jacksonville bats were strangely silent until late in the game. The Lady Red Devils’ only run through the first six innings was off a Northside error in the third. Megan Towner reached on a fielding error by the Northside pitcher, and scored with two outs when leadoff batter Gabrielle Hart singled to centerfield.
The Lady Devils started hitting the ball hard in the top of the sixth, but still couldn’t come up with any runs.
Monica Fletcher and Rachel Holder hit hard grounders that were fielded well, and Towner hit a deep fly ball to center field in the sixth inning.
Northside went down in order in the bottom of the sixth, and the Lady Devils gave themselves some breathing room in the seventh.
Jacksonville catcher Somer Grimes and Hart each hit hard shots to third base, but were thrown out to start things off. Bock finally got a hard hit to a gap. She was replaced at first by courtesy runner Bailee Herl-acher after her line drive landed in left-centerfield.
Sophomore second baseman Taylor Norsworthy then ripped a line drive to right field to put two runners on for shortstop Whitney Conrade.
Conrade hit a huge shot over the head of the Northside left fielder. She turned the hit into a sliding, two-RBI triple that set the final margin.
“You just have to show up to play,” Jacksonville coach Phil Bradley said. “We weren’t hitting early because maybe we weren’t ready to play yet. They decided to start playing and you could see what they’re capable of. They just have to remember to bring that kind of effort every second of the game. I feel like we’re sitting pretty good if we can start getting that kind of contact from the bottom of our lineup. Jesse did an outstanding job.”
The win lifted the Lady Devils to 21-3 on the year. They took on North Little Rock in the second round last night after Leader deadlines.
The Charging Lady Wildcats came back from a 2-0 deficit to score seven runs in the last two innings and beat Watson Chapel 7-3.
In other first-round games, Lake Hamilton beat West two seed Bentonville 1-0, West champion Fayetteville beat Mountain Home 10-0, Bryant topped Jonesboro 2-0, fourth-seeded Sheridan handled Central champion Mount St. Mary’s 10-4 and Conway beat Cabot 2-1 in extra innings.
Last night’s winners will play in the semifinals at the Cabot city park today beginning at 4 p.m. The winners of today’s matchups will win the right to advance to Saturday’s state championship game at LadyBack Yard on the campus of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.