FAYETTEVILLE — A fluke play in the bottom of the fifth inning was enough for the White Hall Lady Bulldogs to win their second straight 5A softball state championship on Saturday at Bogle Park at the University of Arkansas.
White Hall senior Rachel Box hit what should have been a routine pop-up toward first base with two outs and a runner on second. But some miscommunication and maybe a bit of sunshine caused the ball to drop in behind Greenbrier’s first baseman, scoring Kayla Reep from second.
White Hall won the game 1-0.
Senior Sydnee Clark, who will play softball Arkansas Tech in the fall, pitched a complete game and allowed just one hit. She struck out four and walked none.
For Greenbrier, senior Aundrea Hardin, pitched a complete game as well. She allowed one run on three hits with three walks.
Hardin, who lost her mom earlier this year, is part of a senior class that won more games in four years than any other team in Greenbrier history.
It is the second time White Hall has defeated a team from Faulkner County after defeating Vilonia last season for the state title.
White Hall head coach Terri Smith said winning the state championship and defeating 6A state runner-up Benton are probably her two proudest moments this season. Greenbrier, which won a state title in 2010, has reached the state semifinals five straight times.
Coming into Saturday’s final, the Lady Panthers had allowed just four runs in three state tournament games. White Hall had allowed five in three games.
Ricebirds can’t get clutch hit
FAYETTEVILLE — The Stuttgart Ricebirds had one of their best hitters at the plate in a critical moment in Saturday’s 4A state baseball championship, but it was not enough as the Arkadelphia Badgers won 5-4 at Baum Stadium at the University of Arkansas.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, with one out and runners on first and second, Stuttgart senior Dontrell Brown had an opportunity to come through with a game-winning hit. However Brown, who was the Southeast Arkansas Player of the Year in football, grounded out to relief pitcher Brandon Matros. Taylor Daniels followed with a strikeout and Arkadelphia won its first-ever baseball state championship.
Stuttgart head coach Kevin Youngblood said Brandon Matros “wasn’t throwing anything special,” but was just brought in at the right time.
Stuttgart outhit Arkadelphia 9-6 but left six runners on base. The Ricebirds’ three- through five-hole hitters — which includes Brown and Daniels — finished the game 3 for 11.
Arkadelphia’s J.F. Matros was named the game’s MVP after pitched 6 1/3 innings. He allowed four runs (two earned) on eight hits with six strikeouts and one walk.
He was taken out of the game after he gave up back-to-back singles to Regan Counce and Gere Elam in the top of the seventh with one out.
It was the first-ever baseball championship appearance for either team. The Ricebirds won the 2-4A Conference and the 4A East Region championship after starting the season 1-4.
Arkadelphia finished the season 22-7, while Stuttgart dropped to 18-9.
Walks hurt Redbugs
FAYETTEVILLE — In their very first baseball state championship, the Fordyce Redbugs gave up a season high runs and walks in a 14-3 loss to the Harding Academy Wildcats on Friday night at Baum Stadium.
Fordyce gave up 12 walks in the loss, including six in the first two innings in which Harding Academy scored 10 of its runs.
Starter Cole Johnson gave up three in just two-thirds of an inning and freshman Ross Rogers walked six in 3 2/3 innings. Junior Braden Chambers gave up three in 2 2/3 innings.
“We weren’t close to the plate and we were walking them,” Fordyce head coach Tim Rodgers said. “We had to groove it in there and they would hit it.”
Going into Friday’s game, Fordyce had only lost two games on the season, a pair of 3-2 losses. So the 11-run deficit to Harding Academy was also a season high.
Fordyce also gave up two home runs — a solo shot to Harding Academy’s Will Francis and a two-run shot to right field by Trent Finley.
With the win, Harding Academy has now won a state championship in football, basketball and baseball. Francis was named the most valuable player in the first two sports and might have been named the MVP in Friday’s game as well if it wasn’t for a strikeout in the top of the seventh.
Instead, the title was awarded to pitcher J.R. Miller, who pitched a complete game, allowing just three runs (all earned) on eight hits with six strikeouts and three walks.
Harding Academy also won a state championship for girls track and field.
Harding Academy’s lead-off hitter Caleb Spears was the only Wildcat to not reach base, finishing the night 0 for 5 including a strikeout.
However in the bottom of the seventh, Spears, who plays center field, threw out Rogers at the plate for the game’s final out.
The Wildcats also won a state championship in 2008.