Lady Hornets clinch

BRYANT – They may have just been biding their time, but the Bryant Lady Hornets clinched the 7A Central conference in convincing fashion with a 10-0 win over the Conway Lady Wampus Cats on Tuesday night at Lady Hornets Field. Conway’s only previous conference loss came at the hands of the Lady Hornets, which picked up their 15th shutout of the year.

The two-time defending champion and undefeated Lady Hornets (29-0, 12-0 7A Central) won their 32nd game in a row dating from last season. The streak is good for second in the state behind North Little Rock’s 41-game streak during the 2001-2003 year.

“The last time we played them, it was 9-2,” Bryant Coach Debbie Clark said of Conway. “They scored first and we had to come back and beat them and the girls remember that. There were some things about that game that they didn’t particularly like so they took care of it tonight.

“Home field, the seniors got to bring a favorite teacher out, we had a huge crowd, Hornet Nation, Conway here; this was big. My seniors were big and we clinched the conference title. I’m so proud for them and they did it 10-0 just in case anybody had any kind of thoughts [of the Lady Hornets not being legitimate]. They understand how serious this is.”

The Lady Hornets wasted no time on getting on the board. After Bryant starting pitcher Peyton Jenkins struck two of the first three Lady Wampus Cats looking, the first five Lady Hornets to bat scored. Senior Jenna Bruick hit a slap single to left field to start the bottom of the first and Jenkins took a walk. Third-place batter and senior catcher Jessie Taylor singled to left field to load the bases and then a string of six consecutive at bats of scoring took place with one Lady Hornet scoring at a time.

Senior center fielder Kayla Sory walked in a run, senior Cassidy Wilson was hit by a pitch, which scored a run and sophomore Kaley Coppock reached on an error to score a run. Junior Carly Yazza hit into a fielder’s choice for an RBI and sophomore Katy Stillman grounded out to third for an RBI. With Yazza at second base, junior McKenzie Rice doubled to right field for Bryant’s sixth run of the inning. With the Lady Hornets batting around, Bruick grounded out to the shortstop for the last out, but looked to be safe at first by about two steps.

“When you can get six runs against the team you’re playing for the conference title in the first inning, you could just see the difference,” Clark said. “That’s why this six inches right here (referring to dugout demeanor) is so important because you could see the difference in the dugouts. The [Lady Hornets] had a goal in mind and they did what they wanted to do tonight.”

Bryant scored a run in the second started by a Jenkins single to right field and scored another in the third when Jenkins hit a two-out home run to left field for an 8-0 Lady Hornets’ lead.

After getting set down in order in the fourth, Bryant started the bottom of the fifth with a Stillman walk and Rice hit by pitch. Bruick sacrifice bunted the runners over and Jenkins picked up her second walk of the game to load the bases. Consecutive singles to left field by Taylor and Sory gave the Lady Hornets a 10-0 lead and the win.

Jenkins was threatened only once in the top of the fourth inning when Maddy Shaw singled to start the inning, went to second on an error and to third on a ground out. With runners at second and third with one out, Jenkins induced a foul out to first base and then struck out Jordan Gendale looking at a low fast ball to end the inning.

Jenkins finished with the win pitching five shutout innings, giving up three hits and a walk with seven strike outs.

Taylor went 4 for 4 with a double and Jenkins went 2 for 2.

“They understand the team concept,” Clark said of her team. “They honestly understand about playing for that name across the chest.”

The Lady Hornets travel to Cabot to take on the Lady Panthers on Friday and then have senior night on Tuesday when they host North Little Rock.