Benton takes momentum into 5A state opener

Benton’s Riley Gilmore takes a cut at a pitch during a recent game. On Tuesday, Gilmore helped Benton to a 6-5 win over Bryant, going 1 for 2 with a walk. Gilmore leads the Lady Panthers in hitting this season, posting a .417 average heading into today’s first-round match in the 5A State Tournament. Benton will battle Jonesboro at 12:30 p.m. at the Benton Athletic Complex. Other games will be played on Field 5 at Riverside Park in Benton. GREG DAVIS/Special to The Saline Courier

Heading into the 5A State Tournament, the Benton Lady Panthers capped their regular season with a slugfest showing against arch rival Bryant on Tuesday, winning 6-5 on the road.
“It was definitely a good prep game for us and for Bryant, too,” said Benton Head Coach Heidi Cox. “There were some great defensive plays on both sides of the field. Hitting-wise, we needed to see that and we were able to jump on some great pitches and execute with runners in scoring position. That is what you have to do to win. Hopefully we can continue that and it keeps happening.”
Both teams combined for 21 hits with the Lady Hornets edging Benton with 11 knocks in the loss.
For the Lady Panthers, four hits went for extra bases, including a home run from sophomore Tuesday Melton, who also earned the no-decision from the circle as she worked four innings while allowing one run on five hits.
On the year, Melton has a record of 12-4 while sporting a 1.99 earned run average. She has also struck out 86 batters in 102.1 innings of work.
“Obviously, we are going to go with Tuesday, she is our ace,” Cox said. “But (Elana) Scott has top speed and Gracie Redmon brings the speed down a little bit but she hits her spot and that is what we have to have.
Read the rest in Thursday's The Saline Courier.