Both defending state champions advanced to the 7A State Tournament semifinals Saturday, with the Hornets beating Cabot 7-5 and the Lady Hornets beating Springdale Har-Ber 10-0.
Hornets head coach Kirk Bock said the wind at the tournament in Fort Smith was a major factor in the game.
"They did a great job of scattering some hits around," he said. "It was unbelievable how hard that wind was blowing. Defensively, any popup was an adventure."
SHERWOOD â€” Before Saturday's game against Russellville, Benton head coach Eric Ryan was unsure who he would start in the circle. With three quality pitchers to choose from, anyone could have started, but Ryan decided to go with the proven-senior leader Jessica Smith.
"She has had a little bit more pop on her fast ball and good movement," Ryan said.
It paid off as Smith pitched a complete game, allowing just one run (earned) on three hits with four strikeouts and one walk as the Lady Panthers defeated Russellville 7-1 at Sherwood in the second round of the 6A State Tournament.
The Harmony Grove Lady Cardinals scored three runs in the top of the seventh inning to defeat Perryville 4-2 in the first round of the 3A State Tournament at Prescott High School Friday afternoon.
In the seventh, Morgan Ramsey reached on a one-out walk and with two outs senior Kaylee Allen hit a line drive up the middle to move Ramsey to third. Macy Coffee walked to load the bases and two runs would score on a hit by Stephanie Parins.
Molly White gave Harmony Grove a two-run lead when she single home Coffee.
When the Hornets and Lady Hornets step onto the diamond today, both teams will be battling for a second straight state championship â€” a feat scarcely seen.
And if you ask either coach about the otherâ€™s team, youâ€™re bound to hear similar words of respect and admiration.
Baseball head coach Kirk Bock said, â€śWeâ€™re pretty good, but theyâ€™re really good,â€ť adding that softball head coach Debbie Clark â€śdoes a tremendous job with those girls.â€ť
For Bryant head coach Kirk Bock, the Hornets have lived up to the title of defending state champions.
â€śTheyâ€™ve done everything were asked them to and more,â€ť he said. â€śTheyâ€™ve battled hard all year.â€ť
And after winning the 7A Central again, this weekend Bryant (21-6, 10-4) heads into the 7A State Tournament in Fort Smith as a No. 1 seed, looking to repeat last yearâ€™s championship run.
With a first-round bye, at noon Saturday the Hornets will face the winner of Fridayâ€™s game between Springdale Har-Ber and Cabot.
It has been a dream for Brad Matthews to coach at one of the highest levels in high school basketball. Wednesday night, that dream came true as Matthews was hired as the new head coach for the Bryant Lady Hornets.
â€śIâ€™m excited,â€ť Matthews said. â€śIt is a tough conference, and it is going to be a great challenge. It is something Iâ€™m looking forward to doing.
â€śBryant has a great girls basketball program.â€ť
Newly appointed athletic director Mike Lee introduced himself to a group of coaches, staff, fans and media Wednesday afternoon.
â€śI want to be seen as a servant,â€ť Lee said. â€śI want to facilitate their efforts and ensure the culture of Bryant continues to grow.
â€śI donâ€™t want to walk around as boss, I am here to help.â€ť
Lee was named the athletic director May 4 during an executive session of a school board personnel hearing. The position comes with a $65,179.20 12-month salary.
The Benton Lady Panthers used three different pitchers Monday afternoon to prepare for this weekendâ€™s state tournament as Benton defeated Watson Chapel 4-0 on the road.
â€śI sat down with them before the game and told them we were going to go 2-2-3,â€ť coach Eric Ryan said. â€śWe wanted to try to get some work in and get ready for the tournament.â€ť
Jessica Smith pitched the first two innings, allowing one hit with two strikeouts and no walks. Lauren White pitched the next two innings, allowing two hits with no strikeouts and no walks but did hit a batter.
The Benton Panthers defeated Monticello 12-2 in a non-conference game Monday at home. Benton, who has already secured the two seed in the 6A State Tournament, scored three runs in the first inning, five in the second, three in the third and one in the fourth.
Monticello scored a run in the first and fifth innings.
Following back-to-back singles by Greg Pryor and Garrison Roy to lead off the bottom of the second, Levon Steward hit a three-run home run. Two outs later, Joseph Henry singled, and Stuart Levy hit a two-run home run to give the Panthers a 8-1 lead.
In a battle for the 7A Central title, the Lady Hornets came up short Monday, losing 4-3 to North Little Rock in extra innings.
However, since both teams have only two conferences losses, both will share the title of conference champion.
Bryant (21-5, 12-2 7A Central) lost both of its conference games at the hands of North Little Rock, who earned the No. 1 seed in the state tournament beginning Friday in Bentonville.