Benton picks up first win, shuts out Chapel

BENTON - The Benton Lady Panthers softball team collected their first win of the season on Friday, beating up on Watson Chapel 10-0 in five innings. The Lady Panthers fell in their first contest of the year against Bryant 2-1 on Tuesday night.

Starting pitcher Lauren White started the game with a little bit of control problems, walking the Lady Wildcats first batter on five pitches. White quickly settled into her groove, striking out the next two batters.

Lady Panthers catcher Amanda Jones threw the runner out at second trying to steal for the innings first out.

For Benton, the bats struggled early in the first inning with Stevi Berg lining out to shortstop and Bailey LeVart striking out. WIth none on and two out, Lady Panther third baseman Hailey Durham reached base via the single to keep the inning alive.

The hits continued to follow as left fielder Taylor Atkinson reached on a single as well.

With Durham advancing to third on the hit, Atkinson took second via the steal, setting center fielder Jessica Hardig up with a two RBI situation.

Hardig took advantage of runners and stroked a two RBI triple into left field scoring Durham and Atkinson to give Benton the early 2-0 advantage. Designated player Sydney Golman lined out to shortstop to end the home half of the first.

White continued to struggle with command and pitch placement in the second inning, allowing the first three Watson Chapel batters to reach on singles. Watson Chapel’s Megan Moore lined a single into right field for the third consecutive hit of the inning but the ball was hit so hard that it gave right fielder Berg a chance to get a runner at the plate.
With a strong throw, Berg was able to set up a run-down between the runner and LeVart resulting in the innings first out. Jones gunned down her second runner of the game moments later, catching Sydney Crossitt trying to steal for the second out.

With one on and two out, White settled down and struck out her third batter of the day to end the threat in the second inning.

The Lady Panthers continued their hot hitting in the second, leading the inning off with a double from Jones. A sac bunt by Delaney Bono sent Jones to third on the next at-bat, setting Drew Melton up with an RBI chance. With a 1-0 count, Melton turned on a pitched and lined a single into center field scoring Jones to make the score 3-0 Benton. After stealing second, Melton was in scoring position with Berg at the plate. Two pitches later, Berg and Melton switched spots as Berg doubled into left field, scoring Melton to make it 4-0. A throwing error from Chapel’s Lexi Dourmit sent Berg to third with one out in the second inning.

But the Lady Panthers could not get her home as a ground out to second and a fly out to shortstop ended the inning.
White really settled down in the third inning, striking out the first two batters and forcing a ground out to end the top half of the third inning.

The Benton bats were a little more quite in the third as well.
After a pop out to shortstop by Atkinson, Hardig doubled to left field. Golman then grounded out to second.

Hardig, who has really good speed, took advantage of the slow play at second base by Chapel and rounded third on the play heading home. A small collision at the plate left Hardig with her first score of the day and Benton with a 5-0 advantage.

White ran into a little bit of trouble pitching in the top of the fourth, allowing two hitters to reach in order after getting Dourmit to pop out to second.

Jones gunned down her third runner of the game trying to steal for the second out in the fourth inning. White escaped the threat with another forced ground out to second.

Already with a comfortable 5-0 lead, Benton did not let up in the fourth inning. After Bono reached on a single to lead off, Melton followed with another single.

Two straight pop outs to short by Berg and LeVart gave Benton a two on, two out situation with Durham at the plate.

Durham jumped on the first pitch and drove it off the wall in left field to score two and make the score 7-0 Benton in the fourth. A fielders choice ended the home half of the fourth for Benton.

Jessica Franklin relieved White from pitching for Benton in the fifth inning and picked up in strong fashion sitting Chapel down in order to send the game to the bottom of the fifth.

With Benton needing three runs to win in five, Hardig came to the plate first. She was finally sat down for the first time as she grounded out to second base. With one out, Golman reached after being hit hard in the arm.

Jones and Bono followed with singles to load the bases for Melton.
With a nothing, nothing count, Melton turned on another Chapel floater and drove the ball into the out field scoring Golman and Jones to make it 9-0 Benton.

With Melton standing on first base, Berg reached on a single bringing LeVart to the plate with a runner in scoring position. With a 3-1 count, LeVart scorched a single through the infield to score Bono, giving Benton the early fifth inning victory over Watson Chapel 10-0.

“We got things done that we needed to work on,” head Benton coach Heidi Cox said. “We got to do some differnt things and some different kids got some big hits.”

Melton lead Benton going 3-3 from the plate with three RBIs and two runs scored.

Durham, Hardig, Jones and Bono all added two hits for Benton. Hardig and Durham added two RBIs apiece while Jones and Bono added two runs.
White ended the game with five strikeouts and did not allow a single Chapel runner to advance past second base giving up only four hits and two walks in the contest.

Jones gunned down three attempted stealers in the game.

“One thing about Jones behind the plate, she is aware of what is going on,” Cox said. “With Lauren in the circle, she really contols the game well.”

Benton will return to the field on Monday when they play host to Vilonia. First pitch is set for 5 p.m.