In a true roller-coaster ride of a ball game, the Benton Lady Panthers lost 7-5 Friday to Searcy in the 6A State Tournament championship game.
The Lady Lions won their first state title at Bogle Park on the University of Arkansas campus behind pitcher Amber Rollins, who struck out 11 Lady Panthers and was named Most Valuable Player.
Down 7-2 late in the game, Benton scored three runs in the fifth inning to cut Searcy's lead down to two. However, Benton was unable to capitalize with runners on base in the sixth and seventh innings, resulting in a runner-up finish after a great season.
For the second straight year, the Bryant Lady Hornets are coming home with a 7A State Championship trophy.
Bryant beat North Little Rock 11-1 Saturday in Fayetteville behind an outstanding pitching performance from Peyton Jenkins, who was named Most Valuable Player â€” also for the second year in a row.
Jenkins didn't allow a hit until the fifth inning. She ended the day with 10 strikeouts, giving up one unearned run on three hits.
Like their softball counterparts, today the Bryant Hornets look to accomplish a rare feat in high school sports: back-to-back championships.
Bryant (23-6, 10-4 7A Central) takes on its conference foe, the Conway Wampus Cats, in the 7A State Finals at 5:30 p.m. at the University of Central Arkansas.
Anyone who has ever played the â€śtelephone gameâ€ť knows how easily the simplest of information can get distorted as it travels from one person to the next in the span of just 10 minutes.
Now, add about 30 years and you will end up with what one Benton coach calls â€śdistorted history.â€ť
Benton track and field coach Lewis Pryor has become something of a legend at Benton High School, where his accolades include a state championship in football and a runner-up finish at a national championship with Henderson College.
This weekend is what the Lady Hornets have been waiting for all season: the 7A State Tournament Championship.
And in order for the defending champs to be successful Saturday against its 7A Central foe North Little Rock, the Lady Hornets will need big games from their pitcher-catcher combo, juniors Peyton Jenkins and Jessie Taylor.
The 17-year-old â€śbeats,â€ť as head coach Debbie Clark affectionately calls them, have led the team in the field and at the plate.
It takes a monumental event to wake me up early on a Saturday morning.
If thereâ€™s no hunting season on and you see me roaming around before the sunâ€™s above the horizon, run for the hills because the apocalypse might be at hand.
So when I heard the old wooden seats at Ray Winder Field were being given away, I did the unthinkable: set my alarm.
And I wasnâ€™t alone. Last Saturday hundreds of us descended upon the old home of the Arkansas Travelers, eager for an opportunity to take home a piece of team history.
At the 54th annual Meet of Champions held Saturday at Lake Hamilton High School, Bryant sophomore Alexis Royal won the triple-jump title.
With wind speeds up to 25 mph buffeting the competitors, Royal jumped 36 feet, 11 inches on her second attempt to secure her victory.
Royalâ€™s margin of victory was a full 10 inches farther than the other competitors. Jasmine Marks of Camden Fairview was second with a jump of 36â€™1.
SHERWOOD â€” The game of softball is all about momentum, and in Mondayâ€™s semifinal game between Benton and Mountain Home momentum was being tossed between the two teams like a hot potato.
â€śWe got the most out of our momentum,â€ť coach Eric Ryan said. â€śWe would get it and they would get it. We would go back and forth.â€ť
The Benton Lady Panthers scored five runs in the seventh inning to defeat Mountain Home 7-5 to advance to their third straight 6A State Final in Fayetteville.
By beating Little Rock Catholic 7-6 Monday in the 7A State Tournament semifinals in Fort Smith, Bryant advances to the championship game, which it is looking to win for the second straight year.
The Hornets will take on championship-round host Conway at 5:30 p.m Saturday.
Head coach Kirk Bock, whose team is 23-6 on the year (10-4 7A Central), said Saturdayâ€™s game against the Wampus Cats â€śis going to be a chore.â€ť
â€śWeâ€™re kind of tired of playing people in our conference,â€ť Bock said, laughing.
After the Lady Beaversâ€™ season came to an end Friday, Glen Rose head coach Kyle Lem said it will be difficult to replace the teamâ€™s five senior starters.
Particularly his two starting pitchers, seniors Madison Jacobs and Tiffany Houpt.
Seniors Stephanie Farber (center field), Hollie Boles (shortstop) and Katie Peterson (left field) also will be graduating â€” and leaving big shoes to fill.
Still, Lem said his squad has a strong foundation to build on for the programâ€™s future.Â