Still Rolling: Bryant makes it 27 in a row

FARMINGTON, Ark. - The Bryant Lady Hornets won their 26th and 27th consecutive games dating to last year when they traveled to Farmington to play two against Mansfield and Farmington on Saturday. Bryant defeated the Mansfield Lady Tigers 14-2 and beat the Farmington Lady Cardinals 7-2 to improve their undefeated season to 24-0 overall and 7-0 in the 7A Central conference.

In the first game against Mansfield, senior Jenna Bruick, who was celebrating her 18th birthday, led the first inning off with a single and senior starting pitcher Peyton Jenkins reached on an error. After a fly out, senior Kayla Sory, who usually plays center field, but was playing first base because junior third baseman McKenzie Rice and sophomore first baseman Kaley Coppock were taking the ACT, singled in two for a Lady Hornets’ 2-0 lead. Senior Cassidy Wilson knocked Sory in for a 3-0 Bryant lead after one.

Facing Amber Oxford, a Ouchita Baptist signee, the Lady Hornets got to her in the second inning as well. After a strike out to start the inning, Bruick, who finished 3 for 3 with four runs and two RBIs, reached on a bunt single and Jenkins followed with a single of her own. Senior catcher Jessie Taylor hit a shot to center field for a 6-0 Bryant lead.

“Jessie hit a home run over the center-field fence into a playground with 30 mph winds blowing in,” Bryant Coach Debbie Clark said. “She crushed and muscled it out.”

The Lady Hornets scored four more runs each in the third and fourth innings, and Mansfield scored two unearned runs in the fourth for its only runs. The game went only five innings.

In the top of the fifth, Clark was hit by a foul ball in the dugout.
“My assistant, Nathan Castaldi, tried to stop it (foul ball) with his foot and hand, but it nailed me on the inside of my left ankle,” Clark said. She had to coach Farmington game with an ice pack on her ankle.

Before its two unearned runs in the fourth, Jenkins held Mansfield to one runner, who reached on a single. Jenkins struck out five and walked one, giving up four hits in five innings.

Rice and Coppock met the Lady Hornets for the Farmington game where Bryant jumped ahead 2-0 in the first inning. Jenkins hit a one-out single to left field and was pinch ran for by freshman Abby Staton. Staton went to second on Taylor’s fly out to center and went to third on Sory’s single to left field. Sory went to second on the throw and both runners scored on Wilson’s double to center.

It remained a 2-0 lead until Farmington scored two in the bottom of the fourth inning. Jenkins gave up a single and hit a batter, and after a sacrifice bunt to move the runners over, the Lady Cardinals used small ball to score two runs to tie it at 2-2.

“They squeezed their runs in, great push bunts between our defense,” Clark said. “This was really good for us.  We had to work out of being ahead and then tied and then came back to win. This is why we play; to put the players in different game situations. I was really proud.”

Sophomore Katy Stillman was hit by a pitch to start the top of the fifth and Rice singled to left. Bruick reached on a sacrifice bunt to load the bases, and Jenkins hit a sacrifice fly to score Stillman for a 3-2 lead. Rice scored on Taylor’s squeeze bunt and Sory knocked Bruick in with a single to make it 5-2.

“Our bats struggled some this game,” Clark said of Farmington. “The wind was worse, we were popping up, but we adjusted and had two great fifth and sixth innings. In fact, we gave Farmington a little taste of the squeeze [when] Taylor laid down a beautiful bunt for Rice to score.”

Bruick scored six runs combined in the two games and went 4 for 6. Jenkins went 3 for 7 with four RBIs and Taylor went 2 for 7 with six RBIs. Sory went 4 for 7 with two runs and two RBIs. Stillman went 3 for 6 in the two games. Jenkins pitched all seven innings in the Farmington game giving up two runs on four hits and a walk, and struck out six.

“We were tired mentally and physically,” Clark said of her players being involved in different school activities. “But they gave me their best, which is ‘Beast Mode.’”