Leader Blues

Monday, March 19, 2007

SPORTS >>Beebe ladies sweep Raiders

IN SHORT: Lady Badgers avenge last loss in 5A East play by sweeping Nettleton.

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

Nettleton pitcher Shelby Wise might as well have walked onto Gilliam Field in Beebe with a target painted on her back Thursday afternoon. The junior hurler was the biggest reason the Lady Badgers missed last year’s state finals, but found shutting out Beebe again next to impossible, as they swept both games of a 5A-East doubleheader 6-0 and 4-3 in the nightcap.

Beebe pitcher Callie Mahoney won the anticipated pitching showdown with ease, recording 13 strikeouts in the opener before relieving junior Ashley Watkins in the third inning of the second game. The Lady Raiders got their first two scores of the night off Watkins in the first two innings.

“One thing (Mahoney) is doing is not putting runners on the bases with walks,” Beebe coach Terry Flenor said. “Ashley is more of a location pitcher; it’s not to her advantage to pitch if she can’t get the calls on the corners.”

The Lady Badgers started their run in the bottom of the second inning of the opener, when Sara Flenor singled to put the first run on. Flenor was driven in one batter later off a double by Bailey Thomas. Emily Bass and Brandi Burkhalter also came away with RBI doubles in the frame to give Beebe a 3-0 advantage after two innings.

Two more runs would come in the bottom of the fifth, when Burkhalter was sent in by a double by Chelsea Sanders, after Burkhalter advanced into scoring position after her single on a sacrifice bunt by Laura Tucker.

Bass brought the final run across the plate in the bottom of the sixth courtesy of an RBI from Hayley Castleberry with a hopper to right field. Birkhalter led all batters in the opener, going 2 for 3 with an RBI and a double.

Nettleton struck first in the second game with a run from Brea Smith when Niki Sietz hit into a 1-3. Chelsea Sanders answered most decisively for Beebe in the bottom of the first with a high sailer over the right-field wall to tie the game at 1-1.

All four of Beebe’s runs came in the second inning. Singles for Mahoney and Flenor put runners at first and second, and Thomas’ line-drive single to centerfield scored Mahoney. A walk for Watkins loaded the bases for the Lady Badgers, and a double for Bass brought in Flenor’s run easily, but made for a close call at the plate when Thomas came in. Nettleton catcher Sietz had the tag on Thomas after the throw to the plate from second baseman Lonna Baker, but the ball squeaked out of her catcher’s mit directly after touching her, giving Thomas what would end up as the winning run.

The Lady Raiders answered with a run in the top of the second, and added one more after the switch at the mound for Beebe, when Mahoney gave up her only run of the night when she walked Wise to start out the third. An E6 on a throw to first after Sietz grounded to shortstop allowed Wise’s run to come in, making the score 4-3. Mahoney recovered after the early slip to strike out the final two batters of the frame.

Nettleton would threaten once more in the top of the seventh. The Lady Raiders put two on with only one out, but Mahoney forced a pop-up by Katie Collier and then struck out Baker to retire the stubborn Lady Raiders for good.

Mahoney finished game two with seven strikeouts, two walks and allowed only one hit in the final inning, moving her season record to 7-0. The Lady Badgers are now 8-1 overall, 4-0 in conference after two big wins over North Pulaski earlier in the week.

Beebe will travel to Greene County Tech High School next Friday for another 5A-East doubleheader against the Lady Eagles.