BENTON â€” If there was ever a year where the Benton Panthers should run away with the season, it should be this year. With a squad made up of 18 seniors (10 boys and eight girls), the Benton tennis team should have no problem with their competition.
Especially since most of the squads they will be facing have almost no returning starters, including last yearâ€™s winners Lake Hamilton (boys) and Sheridan (girls).
Bentonâ€™s senior led team is due to the recruiting efforts of a core group of players about four years ago when they were freshman.
The Harmony Grove Football Cardinals opened the pre-season on Thursday night with the Second Annual Red and White game at Cardinal Stadium.
Only two years into a football program and the Cardinals are already looking like a somewhat mature football team.
â€śLast year no one could hear and pads wee popping in the stands,â€ť said Assistant Head Coach Benji White.
â€śWe want to hit people this year.â€ť
The Cardinals started the scrimmage with a nice 50-yard pass from starting quarterback Matt Hollson.
Led by junior Grace Lile, the Benton Lady Panthers defeated El Dorado 145 to 147 over nine holes Thursday at Longhills Golf Course in Benton.
Lile earned medalist with a 43 while freshman Braxton Chumley shot a 50.
Coach Chad Pitts said he pairs Chumley with Lile to try to calm Chumley a little bit since she has never played competitively and the two have become friendly since the school year began.
Kayla Payne shot a 52 and Florida move-in Karli Lipinski shot a 52. Kaylen Presnall shot a 55, Daphne Bono a 54, Drew Melton a 56, Jenna Jamison a 56, and Lauren Manus a 57.
The outdoor temperatures have been hovering around the mid-90s for months now.
Grass has been burned to a crisp, trees have changed colors, and rivers and streams have dried to a mere dirt box.
But none of that seems to be slowing down the very talented golf teams from Bryant High School.
Bryant is under the leadership of newly hired head coach Keith Dale.
This is not Daleâ€™s first rodeo either.
He has coached at El Dorado, Arkadelphia, Jessieville, and Southern Arkansas University before moving his talents and knowledge to Bryant.
Only one day removed from summer vacation, both Bryant golf teams are making a big name for themselves early. On Tuesday, both the boys and girls teams took on Sheridan at Sheridan County Club for a quick nine-hole match. The Hornets were led by junior Tyler Green who finished with a final of 37. â€śHe didnâ€™t have an outstanding day but he did finish at one over par,â€ť head coach Keith Dale said.
Green shot a 6-under 9-hole practice round at Hurricane Country Club on Monday. The boys finished Tuesday with a combined top four score total of 157 giving them an average of 39.2 strokes.
The Benton boys and girls golf team earned a sweep over Lake Hamilton Tuesday at Longhills Golf Course.
Junior Grace Lile earned medalist after shooting a 42 over nine holes to lead the Lady Panthers to a 138 to 141 win.
â€śThey played really well,â€ť new coach Chad Pitts said. â€śI was proud of the way they played, especially this early in the season and with as young as we are.â€ť
Sophomore Karli Lipinski shot a 47 and Kaylen Presnall shot a 49.
Two things will be key in order for the Benton Lady Panthers to be successful is their hitting and their aggressiveness at the net, especially on defense.
â€śI think hitting is one of our strengths,â€ť coach Brandy Chumley said.
â€śBut we are also going to have to improve on our defense.â€ť
Chumley said she is currently trying to implement a new defense by taking away different angles and covering different arears.
â€śAgain with so many changes, we are just trying to work and improve,â€ť Chumley said.
â€śI think we will have a successful year and we should be competitive.â€ť
Raynham, Mass., manager Eric Wensley conceded his team may have had some first-game jitters against a good South Lexington team when they kicked off play in the Cal Ripken Major/60 World Series on Friday.
On Saturday, it was obvious Raynhamâ€™s jitters were gone.
Despite getting a slight scare from Benton, Ark., in the form of a 3-run sixth inning, Raynham did enough to hold on for its first tournament win, leaving the Riverway Sports Park with a 9-6 victory Saturday.
The Central California State champions bounced
back from a loss in Game 1 of the Cal Ripken Major/60 World Series to defeat
the Southwest Regional champions in five innings.
Buchanan benefitted from some wild pitching from Benton, drawing 10 walks.
Buchanan finished with just five hits.
Leading the way was No. 9 hitter Blake Wells, who went 2-for-3 with a double
and two RBIs. Reese Wells chipped in going 1-for-2 with a double and two runs scored, Marcus Mele went 1-for-1 with two walks and two runs scored and
Ryan Bray went 1-for-2 with two runs scored.
LITTLE ROCK â€” With just three weeks until the annual rivalry game between Benton and Bryant, the two teams hosted a press conference at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock to promote the annual Salt Bowl.
Last year, Bryant defeated Benton 45-9 in front of an attendance of 20,206 but Benton holds the overall record of 24-13-1 in the series. Bryant, however, has defeated Benton for the past five years.