Bryant has ups, downs in Tenn. tourney
After getting off to an impressive start Thursday, the Lady Hornets floundered Friday at an invitational tournament held in Tennessee.
Bryant head coach Debbie Clark said her players gathered their composure Saturday, but by the time the girls started making headway against the competition, a storm rolled through and caused officials to cancel the tournament.
Clark said other coaches were impressed by the Lady Hornets’ tenacious play during their two wins Thursday. Bryant beat Clarksville High School 6-3 and Clarskville Northwest 15-1.
However, distracted by bad weather and the expected teenage tomfoolery that comes with being away on spring break, the defending 7A State Champions seemed to lose its ferocity during pool play Friday, she said.
“We didn’t play sharp,” Clark said. “It had rained all day and I think our players felt like we wouldn’t play, and our focus was not where I like it.”
On Saturday, the Lady Hornets came back strong and won one game before having their next game called on account of lightning, which resulted in the Clarksville, Tenn., tournament being canceled.
“We finally played well Saturday,” Clark said. “Our pool was the strongest pool. We were one of the top four teams, and I think we were on our way to winning.”
She said, “Peyton [Jenkins] pitched well enough to win, and we hit well at times. We just made those mental errors that really get to you.”
The Lady Hornets (10-3, 1-0 7A Central) entered last weekend’s tournament on the heels of winning the Tournament of Champions in North Little Rock, which pits different class champs from the previous year against each other. On their way to claiming the tournament trophy, Bryant beat three other defending state champions: Greenbrier (5A), Foreman (2A-7) and Mountain Home (6A).
Clark said, “I told them that we have to play every game with the same intensity as we did in the Tournament of Champions. I think everyone was shocked that we lost those two games.”
The Lady Hornets lost 5-4 to Smyrna (Tenn.) after the time limit was called, and 3-0 to Ravenwood (Nashville, Tenn.)
Jenkins brought in all four runs against Smyrna with two home runs. On the mound, she recorded seven strikeouts while allowing two hits and two walks. None of Smyrna’s runs were earned, Clark said.
Against Ravenwood, five players — Jenkins, Kayla Sory, Ashley Chaloner, Kaley Coppock and Katy Stillman — had singles. Jenkins gave up three hits and had three walks while striking out two. Only one of Ravenwood’s runs was earned, Clark said.
“They knew I wasn’t happy,” she said.
To inspire her team for Saturday’s games, Clark said she read the Lady Hornets excerpts from a book on the “Wizard of Westwood,” legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, who was known for his inspirational messages to his players, as well as winning 10 NCAA National Championships.
Bryant’s first game Saturday was against their pool’s No. 1 seeded team, Creekwood (Nashville, Tenn.), whom they beat 3-1.
In the first inning, after Hannah Rice walked, Jessie Taylor sacrifice bunted her to second base, and Rice was able to score on a Jenkins hit.
Jessie Taylor hit a home run in the third inning, her only hit for the game. In all, the Lady Hornets hit five home runs during the tournament.
In the fourth inning, Cassidy Wilson reached base with a single, and Katy Stillman scored Cassidy with a single of her own.
Jenkins gave up four hits and struck out six batters. She walked one and allowed one earned run.
Next came Rossview (Tenn.), the No. 1 seed from the tournament’s other pool and host team. Bryant was ahead 3-2 in the third inning when tournament officials decided to call the game as lightning began to strike nearby, which also caused the tournament’s premature ending.
Clark said the Lady Hornets were in “beast mode.”
In the third inning, Stillman led off with a single, followed by singles from Jenna Bruick and Rice, whose came from a bunt. Stillman then scored on a Taylor sacrifice fly.
In her short time on the mound, Jenkins had two strikeouts with one hit.
Bryant will host a double-header Tuesday against Mount St. Mary beginning at 5 p.m.