With August just around the corner, that means only one thing â€” football season is a little more than a month away. With the first game scheduled for Sept. 2, it wonâ€™t be long now until Friday nights become the busiest night of my week.
While I love football and every pulse pounding hit that comes with it, the pressure of trying to maintain fair and balanced coverage is always a huge obstacle.
The Benton 12-year-olds defeated Blytheville 8-2 Monday night to win the 12-year-old Southwest Regional Championship and earn a trip to the Cal Ripken Major/60 World Series on August 12-19 in Visalia, Calif.
It is the third consecutive regional championship for Benton, which also won the Southwest title as 10 and 11-year-olds. Benton, who hosted the tournament for the first time, allowed just five runs over its four-game run through the tournament at Bernard Holland Park.
Blytheville came through the loserâ€™s bracket to make the championship game.
Siloam Springsâ€™ leadoff batter worked his way around the diamond to score the gameâ€™s first run after an error allowed Daniel Kent to reach third. No other Siloam batter would reach as far as second base.
Bentonâ€™s Kaleb Moody painted the outer half of the plate for four innings, including nine ground ball outs, to take the win 11-1.
Buddy Riggan and Jacob Cooper each hit solo home runs in the second to give Benton the lead. Seven more hits and three Siloam errors later led to nine more Benton runs.
This weekend, eight teams from both Texas and Arkansas will compete in the 12-year-old Cal Ripken Regional Tournament held at Bernard Holland Park in Benton.
Both the Bryant 12 year olds and Benton 12s will be participating in the tournament with Bryant scheduled to play at 2:30 p.m. Friday against Littlefield, Texas, and Benton to play Blytheville at 8 p.m.
Teams that qualified for the tournament are either state champions, such as Benton, which won the South Arkansas State Championship, or are runners-up or were invited to the tournament.
BRYANT â€” The Bryant Black Sox gave their pitcher all the room he needed and then some Monday night when they opened the bottom of the first with a 8-run inning thanks to a two-run home run and seven other hits to take a 8-1 lead over Pine Bluff Simmons in the loserâ€™s bracket of the Zone 4 Senior Legion Tournament at Bryant High School.
Bryant would eventually defeat Pine Bluff 16-8 to secure a spot in the state tournament, which will be held in Jonesboro next week.
In a back-and-forth battle with Pine Bluff Simmons Saturday night, McClendonâ€™s Appliance fought hard but eventually lost 9-8 despite taking the game to the wire.
McClendonâ€™s had lost 16-1 to Hope Friday in the Zone 4 Legion Tournament and came home after Saturdayâ€™s loss to Pine Bluff, which remains in the tournament along with Bryant and Texarkana.
Bryant and Pine Bluff square off at 5 p.m. today after Bryant lost to Texarkana 10-8 Sunday and Pine Bluff beat Hope 16-15 Sunday. The winner will face Texarkana at 8 p.m. today.
BRYANT â€” The Bryant Black Sox American Legion baseball team used a barrage of hits and a couple of errors in the fifth inning to score five runs as they eventually defeated Hope 11-3 Saturday during the Zone 4 Senior Legion Tournament at Bryant High School.
Trailing 3-1 in the fifth, the Sox received back-to-back singles from Tyler Brown and Jordan Taylor. Taylorâ€™s hit was good enough to move Brown to third and he later scored on a sacrifice fly by designated hitter Landon Pickett.
Coming off its win over Jacksonville on Tuesday, the Benton McClendonâ€™s Appliance Senior Legion baseball team is confident about their chances in the Zone 4 Tournament, which begins today at Bryant High School.
â€śI think we are going to compete,â€ť manager Russell Goodwin said. â€śThere are some very good teams, such as Bryant, Texarkana, and Pine Bluff, but we are playing pretty good baseball right now.
â€śWe got some kids with a lot of enthusiasm and we ended up about .500 overall. This is a tough zone. Usually, whoever wins the Zone 4 wins the state title.â€ť
BENTON â€” Leading by one run in the bottom of the sixth, Benton McClendonâ€™s Appliance Senior Legion baseball team managed to plate two more runs to take a 10-7 lead over Jacksonville.
Corky Welch was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and, after a passed ball, was able to move to second. A balk, a walk to Ryan Besancon and a sacrifice bunt by Austin Hicks got the runners into scoring position.
Welch later scored on a wild pitch and, with two outs, Ryan Bewley picked up his second hit of the night with an RBI single to plate Bescancon.
Benton came up short Sunday in the finals of a tournament held at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, losing to Greenwood 12-0 in four innings.
The Panthersâ€™ finals appearance came on the heels of another finals appearance of a tournament over the Fourth of July weekend in Little Rock.
Benton (16-4) beat Pulaski Academy 11-1 Friday, then won 4-0 against Fayetteville Saturday before falling to Greenwood.
Against Fayetteville, pitcher Coulton Lee only allowed four hits in his seven-inning shutout while striking out 10 and walking two.