BY NORM BETZ –
Goal Attained! Mena Head Softball Coach Ray Hunter and his 2015 Ladycats defeated the Lady Miners of Bauxite, 7-3 to capture their ultimate goal, a 2015 4A State Championship. After making it to the State Championship in 2014, but falling to Brookland High School, the Ladycats started the 2015 season with a goal of not just making it back to the Championship game, but winning it all. “We set and met many goals this season,” said coach Hunter. “We finally achieved out biggest goal today, winning the 4A State Championship.
It was a long season, but the Ladycats kept their eyes on the prize and defeated the Bauxite Lady Miners for the fourth time this season to win it all. The Ladycats defeated the Lady Miners, 5-0 during the regular season, 2-1 in the 4A-7 District Championship, 13-0 in the 4A South Regional, and 7-3 to win the 4A State Championship.
“It’s been a long, stressful year and we really put a lot of pressure on ourselves to get back to Bogle Park,” explained Hunter. “These girls have worked harder than any other girls and it’s finally paid off for them.”
The Ladycats not only won the 4A State Championship, but they were undefeated in league play and finished with an overall record of 27-3. The only losses for Mena came in the River City Rumble Tournament, where they lost to 5A Vilonia 1-0, 6A Greenwood1-0, and 7A Rogers, 1-0.
The Championship game went back and forth with each team scoring and matching scores until the bottom of the fifth inning, when junior Macy Brotherton broke the game open with a three-run homer to center field to put the Ladycats up 7-3 and ultimately secured the victory.
“I’m so happy right now and relieved that we finally got it done here at the State Championship,” Hunter said. “We can now all take a deep breath and ex-hail, as we came here and did what we came to do.”
The Lady Miners led off the game with a double, but ended up stranding runners on first and second after after a walk, when junior pitcher Jordan Ward struck out the side to open up the game.
Mena grabbed an early 1-0 lead when senior lead-off batter Bailey Bunch bunt singled to get on base. Junior Kenzi Spurgin followed suit with a bunt of her own, but was able to send Bunch home after a pair of throwing errors by the Lady Miners.
Neither team scored in the second and third innings and the score remained 1-0, in the Mena’s favor headed to the top of the fourth inning.
Bauxite was able to get a pair of Lady Miners on base via walks, sandwiched in between a fly-out and strike-out. Both runners were able to cross the plate on a two-out, two RBI double by sophomore Jacie Cooper.
The Ladycats grabbed the lead back in the bottom of the fourth when junior Daryan Torix crushed a two-run homer over the 220 foot center field fence. Senior Lexi Hansard was the other Ladycat to score on the home-run, after she reached on a double to right field. Mena led 3-2 after the completion of the third inning.
Bauxite tied the game in the top of the fifth inning when freshman lead-off hitter, Shelby Chavers tripled to the right field corner, and was sacrificed home on a long fly-ball out to left field.
Mena not only took control but put the game out of reach in the bottom of the fifth inning, scoring four runs on four hits. Bunch, Spurgin and junior Kristen Kesterson hit back-to-back-to-back singles after Ward lined out to her counterpart, Bailey Buffington. Bunch was able to score on a throwing error. Junior Macy Brotherton tagged a ball and sent it out of the yard, for a three-run home run. Mena took a commanding 7-3 lead after five innings of play.
Bauxite went down in order in the top of the six inning with a fly-out, a strikeout looking and ground out.
The Lady Miners never stopped and actually loaded the bases in the top of the seventh inning with just one out, but were shut down after a pair of fly-outs to junior Madelyn Brotherton and Spurgin. Mena secured the 7-3 victory and a 4A State Championship with the win.
Ward pitched a complete game, giving up four hits, walking four, and striking out nine in the Ladycats 7-3 win. Ward faced 30 batters, threw 128 pitches, 88 for strikes and 40 balls.
Kenzi Spurgin and Daryan Torix each went two-for-three from the dish, while Bailey Bunch went two-for-four. Kristin Kesterson, Macy Brotherton, Lexi Hansard, and Jordan Ward all had one hit in the contest, with Macy Brotherton racked up three RBI’s.