Lady Hornets dominate in Central opener

The Bryant Lady Hornets had no trouble in their first 7A Central conference matchup on the year defeating the Little Rock Central Lady Tigers 14-0 in five innings on Thursday night at Interstate Park in Little Rock.

“We did what I wanted to – came in scored runs and made some great defensive plays,” Bryant Coach Debbie Clark said. “Peyton [Jenkins] did a good job.

“In situations like this, there is so much about this that you can’t control. The field is different, different umpires, the pitching is different. But, that is what makes us a team that’s going to develop into a really good team, is because we take these situations and overcome them. I’m just really proud of them.”

Senior starting pitcher Peyton Jenkins gave up one hit and a walk in five scoreless innings for the win and struck out nine Lady Tigers.

The Lady Hornets (7-0, 1-0 7A Central) wasted no time getting on the board. Jenkins flew out to left field to open the game up, but senior second baseman Jenna Bruick reached on an infield single and stole second base. Senior catcher Jessie Taylor walked, and after senior Kayla Sory flew out to center, sophomore Kaley Coppock hit a liner to the left-center field gap for a three-run inside-the-park home run for a 3-0 Bryant lead.

Junior Carly Yazza walked and scored all the way from first base on a throwing error by the third baseman to first on sophomore Breanna Sanders’ grounder to put the Lady Hornets up 4-0 after one.

Jenkins walked the first batter of the game to start the bottom of the first. The Lady Tiger went to second base after a sacrifice bunt, but Jenkins came back and struck out the next two batters to get out of the inning unscathed.

The Lady Hornets put up four more in the top of the second. Junior McKenzie Rice singled to start the inning, stole second and reached third on a groundout by Jenkins. Rice ended up scoring on a wild pitch.

Bruick picked up her second of four hits on the day with another infield single and scored on Taylor’s triple to make it 6-0. Taylor went for the inside-the-parker, but was gunned down at home.

But, the inning wasn’t over. With two outs, Sory walked and moved to third on a single by Coppack. Yazza hit a double which was just inside the third-base line to score both runners and an 8-0 lead.

Jenkins gave up a double to start the bottom of the second, but the runner was gunned out at third base when left fielder Ashley Chaloner hit the shortstop Sanders with the relay throw, who in turn hit Rice, who tagged the runner, at third.

Jenkins set down the final 11 Lady Tigers in order including three strike outs in a row, the leadoff through third-place hitter. Jenkins also struck out the last two batters of the game.

The Lady Hornets would add one run in the third inning and four more in the fourth to finish the blowout.

Bruick went 4 for 4 for Bryant, scored twice and added two RBIs. Coppack went 2 for 3 with three RBIs and two runs scored. Yazza finished 1 for 2 with two runs scored and two RBIs.

Though the Lady Hornets had little trouble scoring, Clark said there are some improvements to be made. Central’s starting pitcher had a good changeup, which kept some Bryant hitters off balance.

“[Something] we’re going to work on is the changeup with less than two strikes,” she said. “Basically all you can do is pop it up or just bloop it. We need to let that one go. That’s about discipline.

“It’s our first conference win and that’s extremely important.”

Next up for Bryant is the Tournament of Champions held at Burns Park in North Little Rock. The Lady Hornets take on Hope tonight.

“A lot of the girls have played with Coach Godwin in the summer some,” Clark said. “His daughter is the pitcher. She has a lot of speed, a lot of movement and she’s smart.”

Clark, though, is confident in her team’s ability.

“Any time we put pressure on the other team, a lot of times they have a hard time keeping up with us,” she said. “My goal for my players is to score a run every inning. If we do that, we have seven runs at the end of the game and it’s hard for any team to score those kinds of runs against our defense.”