Close To A Title: Wildcats finish off Leopards early

With a 12-2 home win over De Queen on Friday, Watson Chapel is now one game away from clinching a share of the 5A-South Conference championship.

“We got to go to Hot Springs on Monday,” Chapel head coach Chad Cope said. “Anything can happen. We have to win that one and if we win, we will have a share of it and get the one seed.

“Got to take care of Monday first.”

Watson Chapel scored eight runs in the first inning as the Wildcats defeated the Leopards in five innings.

“You talk about making a things a little easier on you,” Cope said. “We haven’t had a lot of big innings with this group.

“To score eight, really took a lot of pressure off of us. That helped us out, it was good to have.”

Watson Chapel (17-5, 11-2 in 5A-South) sent 12 batters to the plate in the first inning as the Wildcats tallied seven hits including RBI singles from Jacob Owen, Cameron Banks and Dalton Barker.

On his second trip to the plate in the first, Jaylan Jackson hit a two-run double to score Josh Dardenne and Barker to cap off the big inning.

“I was really happy with our intensity,” Cope said. “Our kids bounced around and wanted this game.”

Chapel also scored three runs in the second and one run in the third.

Dardenne took the win after pitching five innings and allowing two runs (both earned) on seven hits. He also struck out seven and walked one.

“I think he gave up three or four hits on two strikes today,” Cope said. “That just him not hitting his spots. But it is a tough day to throw, when it has been in the 70s and 80s and then bounces back into the 40s.

“He did well though. He didn’t walk a lot of batters and that is what we wanted.”

Dardenne was also 2 for 4 at the plate with double, a walk and a pair of runs scored.

De Queen scored a run in the second on an RBI single by Brady Hanney and scored again in the third on an RBI single by Devon Hagood.

De Queen’s Clay Westbrook takes the loss after pitching two-thirds of an inning, allowing eight runs on seven hits with one walk and one strikeout.

For Watson Chapel, Jackson finished 2 for 3 with a double, a walk and two RBIs. Jordan Stargell walked two times and scored three runs. Justin Pierce was 1 for 1 with two walks, two runs scored and one RBI.

Barker was 2 for 2 with a walk, a run scored and two RBIs.

Chapel will face Hot Springs on Monday at 4:30 p.m.