BENTON – The Benton Lady Panthers have been on a tear over the past six or seven weeks.
They have already added some hardware to the trophy case by winning the Bootsie Gordon Tournament in early March and now they are trying to keep a healthy winning streak alive as they get into the meat of a tough schedule.
Benton, coming into Monday, had won 10 straight games with it’s only loss coming to arch rival Bryant on opening day.
Over the course of the streak, Benton has tossed multiple shutouts and has also built an early edge in the 6A conference with a 3-0 record. On Monday, the Lady Panthers got back to work in a non-conference match against 5A White Hall at Lady Panther Field. With the use of hot bats and stellar defense, the Lady Panthers routed White Hall in five innings 11-0 to extend their winning streak to 11.
Starting pitcher Lauren White battled out of a little bit of trouble in the first inning after allowing the second hitter of the game to reach on a single. This came after White fought to sit down White Hall’s leadoff hitter Abby Weever.
White won the battle after tossing eight pitches before forcing Weever to line out to Drew Melton at shortstop. White struck out Sydney Clark for the inning’s second out before walking Rachel Box to put two on with two out. White threw a low pitch on a 2-2 count to Cara Hall to force an unassisted fielder’s choice to Bailey LeVart at second base to end the inning.
Benton started their half of the inning off in style. After back-to-back singles by Stevi Berg and Daphney Bono, catcher Sydney Goldman walked to load the bases for the Lady Panthers. Korie Parker followed with an RBI after being hit by a pitch to put Benton up 1-0, leaving the bases juiced in the first.
An error on White Hall followed by an RBI single from LeVart gave Benton the early 3-0 advantage and left them with the bases loaded and still none out.
But that was all Benton could push across as Jessica Hardig and Karrie McCurry struck out while Melton followed with an unassisted ground out to first to end the inning.
White settled down in the second and sat down White Hall in order.
Benton mustered a hit in their half of the inning but couldn’t get anything else, keeping the score stalled at 3-0.
White fought out of another jam in the third after allowing two runners to reach, one on a single and the other on an error by Bono at first with one out. White forced a pop out before tallying her second strikeout of the game to end the top of the third.
Benton blew the game open and put it away for good in their half of the third. This time Benton put eight straight runners on base and scored seven of them before White Hall could record an out. Taylor Atkinson,
Parker, LeVart, Hardig, McCurry, Melton and Bono all scored in the fifth. Atkinson scored twice as the Lady Panthers batted through the lineup for the second time in the game. Benton also sent nine hitters to the plate in the first inning. The Lady Panthers bashed out six hits and six RBIs in the third. White Hall committed it’s second and third error of the game to allow Benton to push the score to 11-0.
With the weather not wanting to cooperate, neither team was able to add any more runs to the score board as Benton ended the game with an 11-0 shutout, moving their winning streak to 11. With the win, Benton’s record jumps to 11-1 on the year and 3-0 in 6A play.
“I know that on paper the score may look like a blowout,” head coach Heidi Cox said. “But White Hall has a good group of kids that are always solid.”
LeVart and Atkinson led Benton with two hits each. Atkinson drove home three and scored twice while LeVart hit one in and scored once.
“LeVart finally found a hole and I was very proud of her tonight,” Cox said.
Benton combined for 10 hits in the game, leaving eight runners stranded.
“We put the bat on the ball very well,” Cox said. “A couple of people got some key hits that have made contact but has hit it right at some one.”
White gave up two hits and a walk in the shutout. She also struck out three.
“I put this win as a very good win against that caliber of team,” Cox added.
Benton will hit the road today to take on JA Fair in conference action as long as the weather stays decent. First pitch is set for 4:30 p.m.
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