BRYANT — In a battle for control of the 7A Central Conference, the Lady Hornets fell short Thursday.
Bryant lost 2-1 to conference rival North Little Rock with all three runs coming off solo home runs.
After being down 1-0 through five innings, the Charging Wildcats’ bats came to life and North Little Rock hit back-to-back home runs in the sixth to take the lead, which the Lady Hornets could never regain.
Head coach Debbie Clark said, “It was all momentum. I could see it in front of my face, and I couldn’t do anything about it.”
Bryant (16-4, 6-1 7A) now falls to No. 2 in 7A Central behind North Little Rock, who remained undefeated in conference play. The two will square off again Monday, May 9, in North Little Rock.
Last year the Charging Wildcats won the teams’ first meeting, and Bryant won the second before winning the state championship. The two shared the conference title.
“Our goal is still to be No. 1 in the conference and win the state championship,” Clark said. “When you’re the defending state champ, there’s a target on your back.”
Shortstop Cassidy Wilson scored the lone run for the Lady Hornets, hitting a solo home run in the second inning.
In all, the Lady Hornets stranded seven runners on base, including bases loaded in the second. Clark said scoring runners “takes pressure off our pitcher and defense.”
Peyton Jenkins pitched for Bryant, striking out nine and allowing two runs on three hits, two of which were home runs. She walked one batter.
Offensively, the Lady Hornets recorded six hits, including Wilson’s home run and a double by Kayla Sory with one out in the sixth inning. Unfortunately, Wilson then struck out and Ashley Chaloner grounded out. It would prove to be Bryant’s last base runner.
Jenna Bruick batted one for three with a walk. Jenkins, Sory, Wilson, Carly Yazza and Katy Stillman were each 1-3.
Hannah Rice and Jessie Talyor, the second and third batters in the lineup, were each 0-3.
“We need some time off mentally,” Clark said. “The girls aren’t happy, and I know that because they want to win.”
The Lady Hornets’ next game is at home Thursday against Little Rock Central.
Before Thursday’s game, a new scoreboard, which features “State Champions ‘10,” was dedicated. Farmers Insurance’s Ray Baggett of Benton and Lance Pelton of Bryant, who raised $5,700 in donations to go toward the scoreboard, were on hand to throw out the first pitch. In all, the scoreboard cost $20,000, Clark said.