FAYETTEVILLE â€” It was the shot heard around the state. Down one with two on, two out, a full count and freshman Breanna Langford at the plate, Bentonâ€™s 6A title hopes looked to be all but demolished Friday at Bogle Park in Fayetteville. That was until Sheridan pitcher Sydney Bonner left a hanger out over the plate that Langford tomahawked into left field for a 3-run, go-ahead blast to put the Lady Panthers in front for good.
BENTON -- The Benton Lady Panthers proved that the third time really is the charm Saturday, beating the defending 6A champion Russellville Cyclones 2-1 in the 6A State Tournament semifinals.
Having lost to the Cyclones 2-1 in each of the last two postseasons, Benton kicked the monkey from its back and punched its ticket to Fayetteville for a second straight 6A final.
The win wasnâ€™t just any victory for third-year Benton coach Heidi Cox, however. To her, this win ranks at the top.
NORTH LITTLE ROCK â€“ Bryant starting sophomore Zack Jackson would walk the bases loaded in the first inning of a 7A State Tournament semifinal game on Monday, but he would not walk another in a complete-game 2-0 shutout of the Conway Wampus Cats at Burns Park in North Little Rock.
Jackson would get out of the inning unscathed and would not let another Conway runner to third base the rest of the game giving up just three hits, three walks and striking out seven in seven innings pitched for the win.
BENTON â€“ The first two innings ended up being killer for the Benton Panthers in a 6A State Tournament semifinal game against the Russellville Cyclones on Saturday. South No. 1 seed Benton gave up three runs in the first and two in the second to spot East No. 2 seed Russellville five runs in a 5-1 loss to end the Panthersâ€™ season. Russellville will take on the East No. 5 seed Marion in the state championship in Fayetteville on Saturday.
The Benton Panthers athletic department has a new leader. After former Athletic Director Steve Quinn, Benton AD since 2006, took the principal position at Benton Middle School, Texas import Randy McFarlin will be the new Panther athletic director.
HASKELL â€” The Harmony Grove Lady Cardinals battled through a rare close contest Monday. With a championship looming, the Lady Cards defeated the Perryville Lady Mustangs 2-1 to move their winning streak to 12 straight and captured the squadâ€™s second straight 5-3A District title.
â€śI am most proud of how we fought through a close game since we hadnâ€™t played one in a while, so it was nice to see how we were going to do,â€ť Head Coach Sammi Massey said. â€śIt took both pitchers today and both did a great job. We got timely hits where we needed them and played defense when we had to.â€ť
MALVERN â€“ In two must-win games, the Bauxite Lady Miners punched their ticket to a 4A Regionals berth on Friday when they defeated the Robinson Senators 16-6 and the Central Arkansas Christian Lady Mustangs 11-3 at the 7-4A District Tournament in Malvern. The Lady Miners played Nashville, which Bauxite lost to 13-1 on April 25, in the semifinal game on Saturday with results in Mondayâ€™s edition.
â€śWeâ€™re in the Regional for sure now,â€ť Bauxite Coach Sara Tew said. â€śItâ€™s just a matter of where. If we beat Nashville, weâ€™ll be a 1 or 2 seed.â€ť
BENTON â€“ Since Benton baseball Coach Mark Balisterri won his 300th game back in the 6A State Championship season of 2009, it hasnâ€™t taken very long to hit that next milestone â€“ 400 wins. In Balisterriâ€™s 20th season coaching the Benton Panthers, he picked up No. 400 on March 29, 2014, in a 6-3 win over the Lakeside Rams.
BRYANT â€“ The Bryant Lady Hornets held 7A/6A South Conference leader Sheridan Lady Jackets down for two innings, but Sheridan, which threatened the first two innings, finally broke through in the third inning against the Lady Hornets and stayed undefeated in the South with an 8-2 victory in Bryant on Tuesday.
WOODLAWN -- The Harmony Grove Lady Cardinals got a taste of its own medicine in the semifinals of the Woodlawn Tournament on Saturday after being held hitless. With Kristen Dempsey and LJ Hemlich usually being the ones to hold the opposition off the base paths, the Lady Cardinals couldnâ€™t muster a hit but still beat Woodlawn 1-0 taking advantage of a walk and wild pitch in the process and advancing to the finals.