Leader Blues

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

SPORTS >> Lanier bests Fentor, but Lady Devils take 3 seed

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

It was sweet revenge for a Jacksonville Lady Red Devils team still in pursuit of a higher tournament seed against visiting West Memphis on Friday.

Junior Lady Red Devils pitcher Jessica Lanier gave up only two hits while striking out seven in a 1-0 Jacksonville victory that concluded its conference season at 9-5. Lanier just out-dueled West Memphis hurler Shelly Jo Fentor, who recorded nine strikeouts and allowed five hits.

The Lady Blue Devils beat Jacksonville (12-7 overall) by the same score in their first league meeting on April 10 in West Memphis.

The win deadlocked both Lady Devil teams for third in the 6A-East Conference, but West Memphis wrapped up the No. 3 seed with a blistering 15-0 blowout over Jonesboro on Monday to win the tiebreaker.

“We were trying to get one more run to avoid all of that, but we didn’t get it,” said Jacksonville coach Tanya Ganey. “We played really good as a group and as a team. I thought that
all around, it was one of our best games as a team. We’ve been on the backside of that 1-0, so it was nice to be on the good side this time.”

Jacksonville’s likely opponent in the first round of the 6A state tournament will be host team El Dorado at 4 p.m. on Friday.

Paula Burr’s triple to deep right field in the bottom of the fourth inning not only set up the only score of the game, it was also the only time a runner for either team made it past second base.

Sophomore Riley Zink drove Burr in with a pop fly double down the third base line for the go-ahead run. Lanier and the defense took it from there.

“I’ve always told the kids that if you don’t let the other team score, all you have to do is get one run to win it,” said Jacksonville coach Tanya Ganey. “This group is a lot like last year’s team. Going into the seventh inning, they were still battling. That was the difference in the game for us.”

West Memphis tried to set up a dramatic finish with a one-out single in the seventh. But a terrific double play from Baylee Herlacher at short to Bock at second to Alexis Oakley at first sealed the win.

Jacksonville shortstop Herlacher was the only player to come away with more than one hit in the game.

The senior singled with a grounder into right in the bottom of the third, and just beat the throw to first after bunting in the bottom of the fifth. Both hits came with two outs, and Herlacher was stranded in both instances.

Lanier recorded the only other Jacksonville hit with a grounder to left center to lead off the bottom of the second inning.

The Lady Blue Devils pitcher responded by fanning the next three batters, and she went on to strike out six of the next seven batters she faced.

Lanier’s best run came in the fourth and fifth innings. She struck out all three batters in the top of the fourth, and the first two batters in the fifth until the West Memphis seven-hole grounded out to shortstop.

Mountain Home ended up as 6A-East champions for the second straight season, with only one loss to Jonesboro early on in conference play. Searcy took the No. 2 seed.