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GLEN ROSE - Some teams go years without bringing home any tournament hardware, let alone three in one season. But for the Harmony Grove Lady Cardinals, all of the hard work has paid off. After winning the Woodlawn Tournament in comeback fashion two weeks ago, the Lady Cardinals have put together a phenomenal run, winning the 5-3A District Tournament and now the 3A Region 2 Regional over Bald Knob 5-2.
Harmony Grove battled through stiff competition this week to do so, beating Rose Bud 10-0 in Round 1 and Harding Academy 5-4 on Saturday before cruising past Bald Knob on Monday in the finals. The Lady Cardinalsâ€™ Friday win earned them an automatic state tournament bid also.
â€śThis was a great win,â€ť Head Coach Sammi Massey said about the finals. â€śWe played in a really tough region, so I was proud of how we came away with a win. Bald Knob is a really good team.â€ť
But the win was not so easy. After thumping Rose Bud, the Lady Cardinals have played catch-up in the last two games. Bald Knob used a pair of one-out doubles and a single to score two runs in the first inning on Monday to jump out in front early.
Harmony Grove, on the other hand, had a much tougher go at the first few innings, getting just one runner past first base through three.
After allowing two runs in the first, starter Kristen Dempsey buckled down and allowed just three hits from the second inning until the end of the game, giving up zero runs in the meantime and also giving her offense a chance to get back into the contest.
With little to cheer about early, Harmony Grove broke out in the fourth, scoring four runs on six hits. Dempsey and Molly White reached on back-to-back one-out singles to start the scoring frenzy. Robyn Baxley put the Lady Cardinals on the board with an RBI single to cut the deficit to 2-1. Faith Otts followed with another RBI single to tie up the battle. A strikeout to Joee Richey didnâ€™t dampen the mood as 9-hole hitter Josee Carman added a third RBI single, this one scoring Hannah Hill for the third run thus far.
But Harmony Grove wasnâ€™t finished. With two outs and one on, Holly Drombetta tallied Harmony Groveâ€™s fourth RBI single of the game, scoring Carman to make it 4-2 Lady Cardinals headed to the fifth.
White singled again in the fifth and later scored on an RBI double from Baxley to add a little insurance to an already strong offensive showing. With Dempsey shutting down the opposition, the Lady Cardinals were well on their way to a third tournament final win in as many weeks.
â€śI am super proud of how Dempsey pitched today,â€ť Massey said. â€śShe did a great job. The team as a whole played great. Everybody played a role and did what they needed to do to get the job done.â€ť
Dempsey allowed just two runs on five hits while striking out one. White led the Lady Cardinals at the dish, going 3 for 4 with two runs scored. Baxley followed with a 2 for 3 showing, driving home two in the win.
â€śWhite did exactly what she needed to do at the plate,â€ť Massey said. â€śThatâ€™s the thing with this team. They never stop fighting and battling until itâ€™s over.â€ť
The win not only gives Harmony Grove its first Regional championship since 2010, it also gives it the No. 1 seed in the upcoming 3A State Tournament.
â€śWe definitely set ourselves up for where we need to be,â€ť Massey said. â€śWe just got to go play now and finish up the year like we have been playing all year.â€ť
Harmony Grove will begin its road to Fayetteville on Thursday when it takes on the No. 4 seed, which is yet to be determined. First pitch is set for 5 p.m. in Pine Bluff.