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Benton wins playing small ball

BENTON -- Benton got seven solid innings from pitchers Emme Edmonson and Madi Lancaster and manufactured enough runs on offense Saturday to nab a 4-1 victory over Marion and advance to the Class 6A state softball semifinals.

"I just can't say enough how excited I am for our team," Benton Coach Heidi Cox said. "I'm proud because we played so well and so hard and we did the little things right and it's nice when it pays off like that."

Benton (22-12) took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning when Edmonson walked and scored on a double by Lancaster who later came across on a wild pitch.

Edmonson cruised through the first three innings, allowing one baserunner, until Marion made a bid to get back into the game in the bottom of the fourth. Blakeleigh Garrison reached on an error, while Hope Phipps and Shelby Carpenter struck consecutive singles to give the Lady Patriots (20-9) their best scoring chance.

Marion would score against Edmonson who had to leave soon after a collision with Phipps and was relieved by Lancaster. Megan Adams struck out and Lancaster got the Lady Panthers out of the jam with a slim 2-1 lead.

"I just had to rely on my teammates and know that they're going to make plays and trust my mechanics," Lancaster explained. "It's more about heart than skill, and my team's got heart."

Benton manufactured some insurance runs to close out the Lady Patriots.

Lancaster drew a leadoff walk in the top of the fifth, followed immediately by a sacrifice bunt by Madi Mehlin. Lancaster then scored on a bunt single by Malinda Wells for a 3-1 lead.

Rylea Brimhall led off the sixth inning with a double, moved to third on a bunt single by Maggie Carson and scored on a sacrifice fly by Cayla Clayton for a 4-1 advantage.

"We've been preaching small ball all year long," Cox explained. "It was a good job of getting those bunts down and moving runners up."

Lancaster surrendered a two-out single in the seventh to Meagan Tolleson, but handled a comebacker for the game's final out.

CLASS 2A

Rison prevails

LEPANTO — Rison has one more trip to make this prep softball season, and it’s a lengthy one that could be very rewarding. On Saturday, playing in the semifinals of the Class AA state softball tournament, the Rison Lady Wildcats clipped the Parkers Chapel Lady Trojans 3-2 to punch their state championship game ticket next week at Fayetteville.

Rison will face Spring Hill, a 2-0 semifinal winner Saturday over Poyen.

Rison sophomore pitcher Kristen Hurst went the distance, giving up 2 Parkers Chapel runs on 4 hits and 1 walk with 4 strikeouts.

Parkers Chapel pitcher senior Courtney Phelps allowed the 3 runs on 9 hits and 1 walk.

Two first-inning runs scored by Macy Ratliff and Sydney Keaton, by way of a two-run hit from Mickayla Young, put Rison on top 2-0.

Parkers Chapel tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth when Phelps reached on a one-out pop fly that was misplayed by Rison and Savannah Jones ripped an RBI single to bring in Hannah Barbaree, pinch-running for Phelps. Kaylin Waller’s RBI double to left field scored Jones, the tying run.

Rison regained the lead in the top of the seventh with a leadoff single and an RBI single that brought home Ratliff.

— Fred Conley, Special to the Democrat-Gazette

Sports on 05/14/2017

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