Pitching carries Yellowjackets in tourney

SHERIDAN — In each game of the 6A state baseball tournament, the Sheridan Yellowjackets have had a story to tell about their pitching.

It all started with Ryan Taylor’s five-inning, no-hitter against Little Rock Parkview last Thursday in Mountain Home. The junior had to settle down after throwing 29 pitches in the first inning, but he sat down the Parkview batters in order each of the next four innings to take a 10-0 victory.

The next day, Grady Finley struck out eight despite giving up two home runs in a 9-4 win over Marion. The day after, Josh Miller relieved Landon Huggins with two outs in the sixth and closed the door on Benton for a 3-2 win.

The latter win gave Sheridan (26-6) the season series over Benton 2-1. The Yellowjackets will have to do the same against El Dorado on Saturday in Fayetteville to win its first state championship, but it remains to be seen who will get the start against the Wildcats.

“It just depends on who matches up best” against El Dorado, Moore said. Huggins is a left-hander and Finley is a righty. Statistics for Sheridan’s pitchers were unavailable.

Huggins worked with a 2-0 lead against Benton until it was tied up in the sixth. But the outing gave him something to draw from for another 6A-South Conference rival — the league runner-up Wildcats.

“It just boosted my confidence,” Huggins said. “It just makes it where I can pitch against them, and I pitched against them before. So, I think I’ve got a pretty good chance.”

Should he get the starting nod, Huggins said he won’t change anything about his game. He pitched in the Jackets’ 8-7 win over the Wildcats in Sheridan earlier this season, a game that was key in helping Sheridan claim the conference.

Finley understands El Dorado possesses a strong ability to hit the ball. Moore said the Wildcats have two or three left-handed hitters who are strong at the plate.

“El Dorado’s definitely the toughest team we’ve played all year,” Finley said. “Just because of the way they hit the ball.”

Sheridan and El Dorado will play at 10 a.m. Saturday at Baum Stadium at the University of Arkansas. It will be the Yellowjackets’ first championship game since losing the 1997 AAAA title to Mountain Home.