Simmons’ bats come alive

By Justin Rust

Of the Commercial Staff

Simmons First National Bank has not been scoring runs at the pace the team or coach Dennis Dardenne thought it would when the year began.

Simmons played its first game since being shut out by Little Rock Blues 4-0 last Saturday in the Peoples Bank Wood Bat Classic, and the team enjoyed having metal bats back in their hands.

Simmons was finally able to find the offense it has lacked this season as it put 10 runs on the board and beat Conway 10-2 in six innings on Friday at Taylor Field.

“We’ve been kind of waiting for them to come alive and they did,” Dardenne said. “They are getting there (offensively) and that’s what I’ve been waiting on.”

With another conference game at 3:30 p.m. today in Jacksonville, Dardenne is hoping double-digit runs on the scoreboard becomes a trend.

“I hope so,” Dardenne said. “I hope it’s a sign of things to come.”

Even though Simmons only used the wood bats during the Sheridan tournament, the team was grateful to have the feel of metal in their hands again, and it showed.

“We’ve been slow with the bats recently, and we just got out of the wood bat tournament,” Simmons’ V.J. Dickson said. “I think the switch from wood to aluminum helped us out quite a bit.”

It did take Simmons a couple of innings to figure out Conway starting pitcher Brain Roberts, who began the game with two shutout innings.

Simmons got its timing down beginning in the third inning, though, with two runs. Simmons broke the game open in the fourth inning as it pushed five runs across for a 7-0 lead.

“I think we just got used to the pitcher and made better contact,” Dickson said. “We got more comfortable after seeing him a couple of times, and that’s what did it for us.”

Conway was able to score two runs in the top of the sixth inning, but Simmons answered back with three runs in the bottom half of the inning to force the mercy rule.

“They always enjoy playing in the wood bat tournament, but they always appreciate aluminum when they come back to it,” Dardenne said.

Dickson had three hits and a run scored, Jacob Richardson scored two runs, had one hit and drew one walk and Nick Heffley scored two runs.

The hitting was not the only solid aspect of the game for Simmons. Justin Dardenne and Dickson combined to give up just the two runs.

Justin Dardenne pitched four shutout innings and struck out three batters, despite feeling under the weather.

“Funny thing is he said he wasn’t feeling too good, but he said he was going to tough through it,” Dickson said. “He did a real good job.”

Dennis Dardenne was appreciative of the innings Justin Dardenne gave him since he wants to save as much pitching as he could for today’s game.

“We were trying to get through as little of pitching that we had to use,” Dennis Dardenne said. “It worked out and we were happy with that.”

Dickson gave up two runs in relief and struck out four batters.

Dickson said this game could be a good boost going forward.

“It was good to get out here and get some runs on the board,” he said. “We know we can hit, we just haven’t done it all year, but we see we can do it and gives us a lot more confidence at the plate.”