PEARCY – Needing a must-win against the Lake Hamilton Lady Wolves, the Bryant Hornets came just short in losing 1-0 in 7A/6A South conference play on Tuesday in Pearcy. As the only 7A team in the South, the Lady Hornets are behind the 8-ball when it comes to qualifying for the state playoffs out of the 7A West.
“Our backs are against the wall,” Bryant Coach Debbie Clark said. “We have to win on Friday to be able to get ourselves in the state tournament. We play in the toughest conference in the state, and we beat several of the teams in our conference from the West, which doesn’t count for us, yet they’re going to make it above us. We run-ruled one of them with JV players on the field.”
Despite the loss on Tuesday, Clark got what she was wanting all year from her team, though it may all be in vain come Friday.
“We probably played the best game of the season,” Clark said. “Jordan [Williams], hands down, pitched her best game of the year. She only allowed four on base on one hit and two walks. Jordan pitched great. I’m extremely proud of her.”
A sophomore lefty, Williams gave up an unearned run on one hit in six innings. She walked two and struck out four, but her error in the bottom of the sixth led to the only score of the game.
“That’s not what beat us though,” Clark said. “What beat us is we had nine runners on base and we outhit them 7-1 and we could not score. That’s what hurt us. We have to score. We had the opportunities, but we couldn’t make it happen.”
With the loss and 7A West member Van Buren’s come-from-behind 7-6 win over Rogers Heritage put Bryant in an even more dire position regarding the state playoffs. Van Buren was down 6-0 going into the seventh before its comeback.
“We were in fifth place and we needed both of these (Lake Hamilton on Tuesday and El Dorado on Friday) to keep us in fifth place,” Clark said. “The West has Van Buren and Rogers Heritage fighting to get in, and Van Buren has three games left and Heritage has two games left (as of Tuesday). Van Buren beat Rogers Heritage. If Van Buren wins both of them, we’re out. If Heritage loses theirs and Van Buren wins just 1 of 2, we have a chance. It’s all because of the power ratings. They get more points when they win a conference game than [Bryant] does, because they’re playing 7A schools. We knew that going in.”
Freshman Julie Ward went 2 for 3, junior Kayla Jolley 1 for 1, freshman Shayla McKissock went 1 for 2, and Katy Stillman, Kaley Coppock and Sierra Jones each went 1 for 3 in the loss. Clark finally saw what she’s wanted to see all season from her team.
“[Tuesday night] when they didn’t win, they know what it feels like now,” Clark explained. “I think it was the first time all season that they were really hungry for victory, and when it didn’t happen, they didn’t like it. I said, ‘That’s what it feels like and what I’ve been trying to get y’all to understand all year long how important all of this is.’ We wanted to win so we didn’t have to rely on someone else to control our destiny.”
The Lady Hornets will take on Cabot Thursday in non conference play before finishing conference up on Friday at home against their must-win against El Dorado. Bryant beat the Lady Wildcats 7-3 in El Dorado in the first meeting.