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SOFTBALL: Rain forces Vilonia to play at Benton tonight

March 15, 2011

Benton seniors Jessica Smith and Brandi Barnes share a laugh during the softball game against Bryant. The Lady Panthers host Vilonia today at the Benton Softball Complex at 5 p.m. MATT BURKS/Courier

Three days after losing to Vilonia 1-0 in the semifinals of the Bootise Gordon Memorial Tournament, the Benton Lady Panthers will host Vilonia at the Benton Softball Complex beginning at 5 p.m.

The game was already scheduled to be played at Vilonia, but inclement weather forced Vilonia to move the game to Benton. Vilonia won the tournament on Saturday, defeating Lake Hamilton 5-2 in the championship game.

Benton’s Jessica Smith pitched four innings in the semifinals, allowing five hits, no strikeouts and one walk.

Vilonia’s one run came in the fourth inning after a lead-off double and a single to score the runner gave them a 1-0 lead over the Lady Panthers.

Jessica Franklin came in of relief for Smith, pitching two innings and allowing one hit with three strikeouts.

Tiffani Pledger was 2 for 2 with a double and a single while Bailey Gately was 2-2 with a stolen base.

The Lady Panthers left eight runners on base against Vilonia.

Immediately afterwards, Benton played defending 5A State Champion Greenbrier in the third place game. Greenbrier would win 9-2, but coach Eric Ryan said a lot of that was due to the girls still dwelling on the previous game.

“Mentally it showed up in the way we played,” Ryan said of the Lady Panthers, who committed five errors in Saturday’s game.

Franklin, Benton’s starter against Greenbrier, pitched two innings, allowing six runs (three earned) on four hits with a walk and a strikeout.

Lauren White pitched three innings of relief, allowing three runs (two earned) on two hits with a walk and two strikeouts.

“We were still stuck in the last game,” Ryan said. “To have so many opportunities to score, I feel like the girls were a little down on themselves and stuff.

“In this game of softball, your success depends on how you deal with the failures of the game.”

For Monday’s practice, the Lady Panthers worked on what they needed to do to get the runners in.

“Greenbrier is a very good hitting team and so when you leave it right over the plate, they are going to hit it,” Ryan said. “But a lot of it was early in year inexperience. We have a lot of inexperience as far as playing time is concerned.”

Other news from the tournament includes the Sheridan Lady Yellowjackets defeating Springdale Har-Ber 2-1 in the consolation games.

The winning pitcher was Hannah Hicks. Sheridan will host Lake Hamilton tonight at 5 p.m. and improved to 2-1 on the season after the tournament at Benton.

“Overall I was pleased with our performance in the tournament,” coach Eddie Woodall said.

The Lady Yellowjackets lost to Greenbrier 1-0 after an error by the shortstop allowed a run to score in the top of the sixth.

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