Benton defeats Texarkana in conference play

BENTON — After spending the weekend in Shreveport, La. where the weather was in the mid 90s and sunny, the Benton Lady Panthers were a little “shell-shocked” Tuesday when they had to play in the rain and the mid 50-degree temperatures at the Benton Panther Softball Complex.

Although it took some time for their bats to warm up, the Lady Panthers defeated Texarkana 6-0 thanks in part to a three-run inning in the fifth.

“Of course with the elements coming in and it being cold...I thought we handled it pretty well,” coach Eric Ryan said. “Honestly I thought it would affect our pitching more.

“But Lauren [White] handled it very well. She struggled a little bit here and there and stuff. But she fought back and she did a good job.”

White pitched seven innings, allowing just three hits with no runs while striking out nine and walking two.

White had a rough start to the game as she allowed the first two runners to reach base due to an error and a walk. However a fielder’s choice and two strikeouts would get the Lady Panthers out of the inning without allowing a run to score.

Benton scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth to take a 4-0 lead.
Bailey LeVart singled with one out and moved over to second on a sacrifice bunt by senior Brandi Barnes.

A single by Laikin Davis scored LeVart and Drew Melton followed with a walk. Both Davis and Melton would score on a double by senior third baseman Tiffani Pledger.

“A lot of the bunts tonight came off their reads,” Ryan said. “We always give our hitters the option to bunt. Anytime they feel like they can get it down, so the majority of their bunts tonight were their choice.

“When you see players doing things like that, you know your team is really starting to come together.”

In the bottom of the sixth, Benton scored two more runs after a double by Hailey Durham led off the inning. An error and a couple of fielder’s choice allowed Durham to score. Levart would also score in the inning on a ground ball out by Davis.

A ground ball out in the first inning by Kori Parker plated Melton who reached on a single.

The play of the night was by Davis who prevented a sure double by snagging a fly ball in right field in the top of the seventh inning. Earlier this season, Davis had crashed into the pole in the outfield during the Bootsie Gordon Tournament, but Ryan said that is just the kind of player she has become.

“She goes all out and gives everything she has, whenever you ask,” Ryan said. “All of our girls have gotten like that.”

Melton was 1 for 3 with two runs scored and a walk. Pledger was 1-2 with a double, two RBIs, a walk, and a stolen base while Parker was 0-2 with a RBI and was hit by a pitch.

Durham was 1-3 with a double and a run scored. Jessica Hardig reached on a fielder’s choice and LeVart was 1-3 with a single and two runs scored.
Davis was 1-3 with a single and a RBI.

The Lady Panthers will host Sheridan Friday.