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Griffith's blast lifts Bentonville past Van Buren

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Photographs by BEN GOFF • @NWABENGOFF / NWA Democrat-Gazette

Bentonville High’s Keelah Griffith (11) low-fives coach Kent Early on Thursday after hitting a home run against Van Buren at Bentonville’s Tiger Athletic Complex.

BENTONVILLE -- Kent Early likes Keelah Griffith's chances when she's at the plate, even when she's behind in the count.

That was the case Thursday afternoon as the junior belted a solo home run to start the fifth inning, and that was all the scoring as Bentonville High claimed a 1-0 victory over Van Buren during 7A-West Conference softball action at the Tiger Athletic Complex.

Bentonville High 1, Van Buren 0

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Sikes and Parga. Prough and Cornell. W-Prough, 4-0. L-Sikes. Sv-None. HR-Bentonville, Griffith (2).

"She loves that position," Early said of Griffith. "She even goes into that two-strike approach early in the count. That's something she has a lot of confidence with, and all of her home runs have come with two strikes. When it comes clutch time, that kid shows up."

It was an 0-2 pitch that Griffith found to her liking, and she belted it over the left-center field fence for her second home run of the season and the ninth in six games for the Lady Tigers (6-0, 2-0).

"Coach Early just told me to find one -- find one and square it up," Griffith said. "A bunch of us found balls to hit, but mine just happened to go out.

"When I was a freshman, coach Early taught me how to do the two-strike approach. Ever since then, it just worked for me."

It was the only blemish in a pitchers' duel between Bentonville's Maddy Prough and Van Buren's McKennah Sykes, both of whom had allowed only three hits to that point.

Prough celebrated her 18th birthday by making Griffith's blast stand. The senior right-hander, now 5-0, didn't give up another hit and finished with 11 strikeouts, while Sykes just allowed five hits and struck out four.

"Prough did her job in the circle," Early said. "She worked out of her only jam, and that's what she does. There's never any scare factor in her.

"Sikes is also an excellent pitcher. She mixes speeds and hits her spots. She's the heart and soul of her team, no doubt. We were just one hit better, and we got lucky."

Bentonville West 17, Fayetteville 0

Freshman Hallie Wacaser hit home runs in back-to-back innings, and Karlie Stafford added another one as West opened 7A-West play with a rout at Fayetteville.

West (4-0, 1-0) already led 5-0 after two innings when Wacaser belted a two-run shot to cap a five-run third. The Lady Wolverines added seven runs in the fourth, with Stafford starting the outburst with a two-run homer and Wacaser adding a three-run shot.

That was more than enough for Brittany Crowson, who held Fayetteville to just one hit over four innings and struck out five.

It was the second consecutive 17-0 loss for the Lady Bulldogs (2-3, 0-2) after falling to Bentonville High by the same margin on Wednesday. Baylee Andrews had their lone hit on Thursday.

Rogers High 9, Rogers Heritage 7

Courtney Storey hit a two-run home run in the top of the seventh inning to snap a 7-7 tie and lift the Lady Mounties to the 7A-West Conference win.

Rogers (3-1, 2-0 7A-West) trailed 7-4 going into the seventh inning, but Sarah Hulsey tied it with a three-run homer. Winning pitcher Sadie Beeman followed with single and Storey then hit the two-run blast out to left field for the lead.

Storey finished 2-for-3 with a walk and four RBIs, while Allyn Hensley and Beeman added two hits each for Rogers.

Heritage (3-2, 1-1) scored five runs in the bottom of the sixth to turn a 4-2 deficit into a 7-4 advantage also aided by the long ball. Mika Polumbo hit a solo home run and Brittney Dean added a go-ahead two-run shot for a 5-4 lead.

Dean drove in three runs, while Sarah Pollock went 2-for-4 for Heritage.

Alma 13, Siloam Springs 7

Alma took advantage of several Siloam Springs defensive miscues to pick up a 5A/6A District 1 softball victory.

The Airedalettes (3-4, 1-1) led 2-0 after scoring two runs in the third and then scored six in the fourth.

Trailing 9-1 in the top of the fifth, Siloam Springs cut the Alma lead to 9-7, but Alma responded with four runs to re-establish control.

Andrea Griffin got the win for Alma, while Mikayla Lewis and Abbye Ostrander each had two hits. The Airedalettes finished with 14 hits.

Kenlie Noel had a three-run double for Siloam Springs, while Aislyn Burchette had an RBI hit and Danielle Boyster finished with a two-run double.

Sports on 03/17/2017

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