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Cook a key ingredient for Marion

CLASS 6A SOFTBALL

MARION 7, JONESBORO 3

GREENWOOD -- Marion senior catcher Haley Cook provided at the plate Saturday at Lady Bulldog Field.

After hitting the game-winning home run in the quarterfinals, Cook finished 3 for 3 with 3 RBI to help Marion to a 7-3 victory against Jonesboro in the semifinals of the Class 6A state softball tournament.

"Our catcher has been playing so well for us," Marion Coach Sean Gray said. "She helped get us here with the home run. She was great again at the plate for us today. She has been playing some great softball. I'm so proud of her and this team."

Marion (17-8) scored early and held on late as Jonesboro tried to rally in the final inning. Jonesboro (17-12) got the tying run on deck with one out but could not close the gap, recording two consecutive outs to end the game.

"We've done a good job battling all season long," Jonesboro Coach Josh Fleming said. "We've had a lot of close games and fought to the very end. They did it again today. That's all you can ask for really."

Marion took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Blakeleigh Garrison scored on a throwing error. Cook then hit an RBI single to bring Shelby Carpenter home for a 2-0 advantage after one inning.

"It's always nice to get out early by scoring runs," Gray said. "That's something we talked about and wanted to do. You want to get the momentum on your side early."

The Lady Patriots didn't find much success bringing runners to the plate after that, leaving four stranded in the next three innings.

Marion broke out in the fifth inning, scoring 4 runs on 2 hits and 2 errors. Cook's two-run double was instrumental in the inning.

"That was a big inning there," Gray said. "I feel like we were going to get that big-hitting inning. We were threatening it. Then we finally got it. I thought leaving those runners on base might cost us earlier."

Marion starting pitcher Kyndel Williams picked up the win after allowing six hits and three walks. She cruised through six scoreless innings before giving up three runs in the final inning.

Jonesboro's Lauren Mitchell, Macy McDaniel and Kellen Church had an RBI apiece. The Lady Hurricane left seven runners on base, and they also committed six errors.

Marion advances to the state championship game, where it is searching for its first title since 2006. The Lady Patriots will face Sheridan.

"We feel really good and feel we have a chance against anybody," Gray said. "Once you get here, records don't matter. It comes down to who comes out to play that day."

SHERIDAN 1, BENTON 0

The two-time defending Class 6A softball state champions will return to the title game at Bogle Park in Fayetteville.

Sheridan (29-3) scored a run in the fourth inning when Carley Strawn singled and later came home.

That was all the run support Sheridan starting pitcher Kaitlyn Howard needed. She stranded six runners while giving up four hits to Benton (18-15-1).

Sports on 05/13/2018

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