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Sheridan makes it 4 in a row

BENTON -- Defending Class 6A state champion Sheridan struck for two early runs Monday, and starter Reagan Martin made them stand up in a 4-1 semifinal victory over Benton.

The Lady Jackets (30-4-1) advance to the Class 6A state final against Greenwood at 12:30 p.m. at Bogle Park in Fayetteville. Sheridan is in the state final for the fourth consecutive season.

"I'm not sure how many schools have made it to four straight finals, but we're pretty proud to be one of them," Sheridan Coach Tamara Strawn said.

Sheridan took a 2-0 lead in the first when Maggie Hicks led off with a double and came around to score on a passed ball. Kylee Williamson scored Sheridan's second run after a walk and a Benton error.

"That definitely set the tone," Benton Coach Heidi Cox said. "It changes the momentum against us and this game is all about momentum."

Sheridan made it 3-0 in the bottom of the second when Sarah Moore walked and scored on Williamson's single.

Martin allowed 1 run on 6 hits in 7 innings.

"The thing about Reagan is that her demeanor never changes," Strawn said. "Whether she's pitching well, whether she's getting hit, whether she can't find the strike zone, she's the same. But she's a warrior and nothing she was able to do surprised me."

Benton cut the lead to 3-1 in the fifth when pitcher Madi Lancaster singled and scored when Caley Best reached on an error.

The Panthers had runners on first and third with two outs after a single by shortstop Rylea Brimhall, but a soft pop fly retired the side.

Senior Bre Langford's third single started the Benton sixth, and Cayla Clayton followed with a hit to put runners on first and second with nobody out.

Emme Edmonson's sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third, which brought up Lancaster, who tapped a ball in front of the plate but was ruled out when it hit her as she left the box. Madi Mehlin flew out to end the threat.

"That was just our luck today," Cox said of the ball that hit Lancaster.

"We've been in that situation so much this year that I really expected the girls to get out of it," Strawn said. "I'm proud that they came through."

GREENWOOD 8, JONESBORO 2

Paxtyn Hayes and Mariah Hamilton knocked in three runs each in support of Lady Bulldogs pitcher Kaila Cartwright, who earned a complete-game victory in a semifinal victory at Benton Sports Complex.

Greeenwood (25-6) took a 3-0 lead in the first when Hamilton hit an opposite-field home run with Ericka Calderon and Sydney Parker aboard.

"I think that helped us get settled in a little bit," Greenwood Coach Ronnie Sockey said. "You can have a lot of nerves in a game like this, but those runs were definitely big."

Jonesboro (19-9) made it a 3-2 in the bottom of the first when Hannah Carroll's two-run double knocked in Kellen Church and Marcie Bewley.

Greenwood's Rheding Wagoner was hit by a pitch to lead the second inning off and scored when Hayes tripled into the left-center field gap for a 4-2 lead.

"That's our fearless freshman right there," Sockey said of Hayes. "I thought our whole lineup was locked in today."

Hayes was 3 for 4 with 3 RBI and a run scored. She finished a home run short of the cycle.

Greenwood maintained a 4-2 lead heading into the top of the sixth, when the Lady Bulldogs sent nine batters to the plate and scored four times. Hayes' two-run single with the bases loaded and one out was the big hit.

Sports on 05/16/2017

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