BENTON — The Benton Lady Panthers defeated Lake Hamilton 3-2 Thursday night thanks in part to a complete game by junior Lauren White.
After cruising in the first two innings, only allowing one walk with two strikeouts, White gave up two runs in the third inning that tied the game at 2-2. With two outs, Lake Hamilton reached on a walk and a single and scored on a two-run double.
"With a big game like that, she did just like Jessica Smith did against El Dorado," Benton coach Eric Ryan said. "She struggled a little bit at times but any good team like that is going to take advantage. Lauren did a good job of controlling her spots and putting the ball where she needs to."
Ryan said with both pitchers doing well the last two games, he is optimistic about the upcoming state tournament.
White got the next batter to ground out to end the inning and keep the game tied.
White picked up another 1-2-3 inning in the fourth but did allow a single in the fifth. She ran into trouble again in the sixth when Lake Hamilton put together a double and a single to put runners on the corners with two outs. A ground out to second ended the inning.
White finished the game, allowing two runs (both earned) on six hits with two walks and seven strikeouts.
Benton took a 2-0 lead in the first inning when senior catcher Kara Franklin hit a two-run double. Bailey LeVart hit a single with one out and later advanced to second on a illegal pitch.
Kori Parker walked and Franklin's double scored both runs to give Benton the early lead.
"It was special on a special night for them," Ryan said referring to Benton's Senior Night which honored five seniors in between the varsity and junior varsity games.
The other three seniors on the team are Laikin Davis, Tiffani Pledger and Brandi Barnes.
Benton broke the 2-2 tie in the fourth when senior Jessica Smith hit an RBI triple to score Hailey Durham, who singled with two outs.
"She did the same thing in the game against Greenbrier," Ryan said. "With two outs, and two strikes she got a hit. And last night with two outs and two strikes she got a hit.
"It just shows a lot about her character and what she can do for the team."
The win over Lake Hamilton guarantees a two seed in the state tournament, but if Sheridan loses to Texarkana tonight, then Benton will earn the one seed.
The Lady Panthers close out the regular season Monday when they play at Watson Chapel at 4 p.m.