Leader Blues

Friday, March 19, 2010

SPORTS >> Crossett takes two from North Pulaski

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

Conference play for North Pulaski began with a pair of slugfests against visiting Crossett on Tuesday.

The Lady Falcons fell in a pair of close games to start their 5A-Southeast Conference schedule on Field 6 at Dupree Park. The Lady Eagles took the first game 14-11 in eight innings and held off a furious North Pulaski comeback in the nightcap to win 12-11.

North Pulaski (3-3, 0-2) held Crossett hitless in the first two innings of the first game, but Crossett found its bats to start the third.

Crossett (6-4, 2-0) took a 10-7 lead into the bottom of the seventh, but gave up three runs as North Pulaski forced an extra inning. The Lady Eagles put up a four-run cushion in the eighth and held the Lady Falcons to one extra-inning run to clinch the victory.

North Pulaski trailed 12-3 in Game 2, but rallied in the top of the seventh to pull within 12-11 before Crossett finally put the Lady Falcons away to complete the sweep.

“We played better defense in the second game, it’s just that Crossett hit the ball really well,” Lady Falcons coach Ann Tharp said. “But we scored eight runs in the top of the seventh. It was one of the better comebacks I’ve seen this year. I was real pleased that they didn’t quit.”

North Pulaski’s young pitching staff was put to the test in its conference debut. Sophomore Brittany Bains started the first game before giving way to freshman Briana Escovedo in the top of the sixth. Escovedo closed out Game 1 and started Game 2 before she and Bains traded off again.

Bains held Crossett without a hit through the first two innings of the first game, but gave up six hits through the next three innings. Escovedo gave up four hits in her three innings, but the Lady Eagles benefited from three throwing errors by the Lady Falcons.

“I think we just got jittery because it was our first conference game,” Tharp said. “I know we made some throws in that first game we shouldn’t have made. We’ve been working on our hitting. We went through a lot of drills back when the weather was bad and we couldn’t go outside, so I hope that helps us out some.”

Junior Alexis Hendricks led the Lady Falcons at the plate in the first game. She went 2 for 3 with two RBI and three runs and walked twice. Freshman outfielder Shelbie Floyd got North Pulaski’s biggest hit with a double to left field in the bottom of the sixth that scored Lindsey Silvas to cut Crossett’s lead to 8-5.

Senior Allison Hillis bunted and reached on a throwing error. That sent Hendricks, who walked, and Floyd home to make it a one-run game. Hillis reached third on the play, but was left on when Katie Vidal struck out and Kelsey Whitmore popped out to short.

The biggest rally for the Lady Falcons in Game 1 came in the bottom of the seventh after the Lady Eagles had scored twice for a 10-7 lead.

Porscha Anderson led off, reached on an error and advanced when Britany Silvas singled to right field. Leadoff hitter Haley Hudson doubled to left to drive in the first run and Hendricks followed with a two-run single to tie it 10-10.

Two of the first three Crossett batters reached on errors in the top of the eighth. The second miscue led to one run and Tara Woods drove in two more with a double to the center field fence.

Kelsey Whitmore singled for North Pulaski to start the bottom of the eighth and Anderson delivered in RBI groundout, but Lady Eagles pitcher Jamie Doss retired two of the next three batters.

Hudson, Vidal and Whitmore all went 2 for 5. Hudson had an RBI and scored two runs, Vidal had two RBI and scored two runs and Whimore added an RBI.

For Crossett, Cierra Campbell was 3 of 4 with a triple, three RBI and two runs.

North Pulaski lost a non-conference matchup against Little Rock Central, 8-4, on Wednesday and will be off for spring break before returning to 5A-Southeast Conference play when it hosts Beebe in a varsity doubleheader March 30.