The Benton Lady Panthers used three different pitchers Monday afternoon to prepare for this weekend’s state tournament as Benton defeated Watson Chapel 4-0 on the road.
“I sat down with them before the game and told them we were going to go 2-2-3,” coach Eric Ryan said. “We wanted to try to get some work in and get ready for the tournament.”
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.
Sophomore Jessica Franklin pitched the final three innings and struck out six of the nine batters she faced but allowed one hit.
Benton scored two in the third, one in the sixth and one in the seventh.
Tiffani Pledger was 2-4 with a stolen base, a RBI, and scored a run. Bailey LeVart was 2-3 with a stolen base and Drew Melton was 3-3 with three stolen bases and scored two runs.
The Lady Panthers will either play Russellville or Pine Bluff Saturday at 1:45 p.m. in the second round of the state tournament at Sherwood.
“We start preparing and covering a little bit of everything,” Ryan said. “We want to make sure your pitchers are healthy and we have to be able to do things to move runners and prevent them from moving runs.”
Both White and Smith pitched in the state tournament last year and the state final against Mountain Home. Ryan said that experience is invaluable.
“Both of them know what to expect and what to prepare for,” Ryan said. “You could tell last year, that they had some nerves, but this year they seem more confident.
“We just have to keep it going and keep doing the little thing. Just work within yourself.
“I feel like all of them are ready for the state tournament.”