Leader Blues

Monday, March 26, 2007

SPORTS >>Cabot ladies top Bryant

IN SHORT: The Lady Panther softball team stayed perfect in league play with wins over Central and Bryant this week.

By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor

The Cabot fastpitch team got a couple of breaks and unearned runs in a 2-1 victory over Bryant Thursday. Cabot had to come from behind and ward off a couple of Lady Hornet rallies to get the victory and move to 6-0 in 7A-Central play.

Earlier in the week, Cabot shut out Searcy and Little Rock Central, and has just Pine Bluff left for a sweep through the first round of league play.

“We’ve been playing pretty well,” Cabot coach Becky Steward said. “We worked really hard in the offseason on being patient at the plate, taking our time and swinging at good pitches. Most everyone is hitting pretty well, but different people have different days. Barfield is throwing well and when she’s not, we’re playing good defense behind her.”

Against Bryant, the Lady Hornets started hot and threatened to have a big inning when a Haley King single was followed by a Christen Kirschner RBI triple. That gave Bryant a 1-0 lead and put a runner on third with no outs. That’s where Kirschner stayed however. Tyler Cox popped up back to the mound, Kristen Dorsey popped up to second base and Cabot pitcher Cherie’ Barfield struck out five-hole hitter Allison Poteet to end the inning.

Cabot tied it immediately in the bottom half of the same inning. Two-hole hitter Haley Dougan singled to left field with one out. Rachel Glover then grounded back to Bryant starting pitcher Tyler Cox, but Cox’s throw to first was off the mark, allowing Dougan to advance all the way to third on the play. Cox struck out the next two batters, but before she could end the inning, she threw a wild pitch that allowed Dougan to score from third and tie the game.

Bryant went three up, three down in the second. Cabot’s second at bat was more adventurous, but no more fruitful. Crystal Cox followed Becca Bakalekos’ one-out single by getting hit by a pitch. Freshman catcher Chelsea Conrade struck out for the second out to bring up leadoff hitter Jamie Sterrenberg. After the first pitch to Sterrenberg, the catcher’s throw back to the mound hit Sterrenberg’s bat and rolled towards third base. Bakalekos broke for third, but Cox scooped up the loose ball and threw to third in time to get the runner and end the inning.

After a single led off the top of the third for Bryant, Barfield sat down the next nine batters consecutively to take the game into the bottom of the fifth with the score still tied.

With one out and Bryant’s defense moved in very tight, Conrade made the defensive scheme backfire with a looping shot just over the outstretched arms of a backwards racing Lady Hornet shortstop. Sterrenberg then hit into a fielder’s choice that left her at first with two outs. Dougan then hit an infield single that rolled between the pitcher and third baseman. An alert Sterrenberg noticed third was empty and broke for the extra bag. Relief pitcher Laci Rowland picked up the ball and threw to the third baseman, who was not yet in position, but was racing back to the base. She was unable to handle the throw while on the run and it rolled into foul territory, allowing Sterrenberg to score on the play. That gave Cabot the lead, and Barfield ended it with two strikeouts and a groundout in the top of the seventh.

Barfield went the distance, giving up four hits while striking out nine and issuing no walks. Cabot got five base hits.

The week’s three victories make the Lady Panthers 11-4 overall. They beat Searcy 10-0 on Monday in a non-conference game, then handled Little Rock Central 6-0 on Tuesday. Jessica Lanier got the win on the mound in that game. Lanier pitched all seven innings, striking out nine and giving up just one base hit.

Cabot will take next week off for spring break and return to play March 30 in the Harrison tournament.