Coach Hart and his Lady Bulldogs finish season strong

Coach Hart and his Lady Bulldogs finish season strong

The 2023 softball season is over for the Greenwood Lady Bulldogs and Head Coach Donald Hart in his first year at the helm, and what a campaign it was. The GHS girls won 10 of their last 12 games and finished 22-9 overall, falling one win short of reaching the Class 5A state finals. The Lady Bulldogs also finished second in the 5A West conference behind Van Buren. The Lady Panthers of Benton, who beat Greenwood in the state semifinals, will play Greene Country Tech on Saturday for the 5A state title.

Benton 1, Greenwood 0

The Lady Bulldogs ended their season with a 1-0 loss to the Lady Panthers last Saturday in the state semifinals played at Marion in Northeast Arkansas. Benton’s Alyssa Houston outdueled GHS hurler Tori Howard, who gave up only one run in the bottom of the fourth inning. In fact, Houston threw a no-hitter, falling one batter short of a perfect game when a hitter reached base on a third strike passed ball by the catcher. She also fanned 14 Greenwood batters.

On her part, Howard was nearly as good, managing to scatter seven hits and work around an error to keep the game close. But three of those Benton hits occurred in the fourth inning, including a bunt, driving home the game’s only run, which turned out to be the winner. She struck out three Benton hitters and stranded six baserunners in the tough-luck loss that ended Greenwood’s season and bid for a state championship.

Greenwood 4, Valley View 3

Last Friday the GHS girls slipped by the Lady Blazers with a rousing three-run rally in the bottom of the seventh inning, winning 4-3 to advance to the semifinals. The quarterfinals contest was a pitching duel through six frames with Valley View leading 3-1 heading into Greenwood’s final at bat. The Lady Blazers led 1-0 after two innings and 2-1 after four frames before scoring another run in the top of the seventh.

But with their backs against the wall, the GHS bats came alive just in time to pull off a walk-off win. A strikeout started the bottom of the seventh inning, but the next batter, Charlize Taylor, received a base on balls. Tori Howard then laced a line drive to center field that was misplayed for an error, putting runners at first and second with one out.

Courtesy runner Saylor Hart replaced Howard at first base, representing the tying run, but the next hitter flied to center for the second out, leaving it all up to Daisy Parker. She then singled to right field, scoring Taylor from second base with Hart advancing to third and Parker moving to second base on an ill-advised throw by Valley View.

Still trailing 3-2 with two outs and two runners in scoring position, Bri Taylor then finished off the Lady Blazers with a double to left field, driving home both Hart and Parker with the tying and winning runs, ending the game with a joyous celebration by the Lady Bulldogs and their fans.

Tori Howard started the game in the circle for Greenwood and tossed a complete game for the win, giving up eight hits with one walk and stranding seven enemy runners. She also had four strikeouts and allowed her defense to work behind her. The Lady Bulldogs made just one error while the Lady Blazers gave the game away with three errors and three unearned runs in the seventh inning.

Offensively, the Lady Bulldogs had eight hits with Rylee Cowart and Bri Taylor getting two each. Taylor had the game’s last two RBIs while teammates Daisy Parker and Ireland Cooper had one hit and one RBI each. Paige Pugh and Tori Howard had the other two hits for Greenwood.

Greenwood 9, White Hall 1

The GHS ladies opened state tournament play last Thursday with an easy 9-1 victory over the Lady Bulldogs of White Hall. Greenwood scored runs in each of the first four innings before adding two more runs in the bottom of the sixth. The White Hall girls scored a single run in the top of the seventh, even though they didn’t have a hit in an error-riddled game. The two teams combined for 11 errors, seven by White Hall and four by Greenwood. Only two of the Lady Bulldogs’ runs were earned.

Haley McAdams pitched all seven innings for Greenwood, striking out six hitters and walking two, allowing no hits over 121 pitches, 68 of them strikes. She stranded five White Hall baserunners while pitching her teammates to a win in the opening round of the state tournament.

With the bats, the GHS girls had seven hits, all singles except for a lone double off the bat of Natilee Horn. Seven different players had hits, including Horn, Daisy Parker, Rylee Floyd, Rylee Cowart, Haley McAdams, Charlize Taylor, and Tori Howard. Parker, Floyd, Cowart, Horn, Howard, and Piper Pitts all had one RBI each.

Greenwood 11, Lamar 1

On the Tuesday before the state tournament in Marion, the Lady Bulldogs hosted the Lamar Lady Warriors in a tune-up contest before the start of the postseason. A three-run third inning jumpstarted the GHS offense which scored twice more in the fourth inning, four times in the fifth, adding two more runs in the sixth inning. Lamar’s only run came in the top of the sixth inning before the game ended prematurely due to the 10-run mercy rule.

Haley McAdams started in the circle for Greenwood and went four innings, giving up three hits and notching five strikeouts with no walks and stranding four baserunners. She was relieved by Tori Howard, who threw two frames, allowing two hits, no walks, and stranding one runner.

At the plate, the Lady Bulldogs banged out nine hits, two each by McAdams and Paige Pugh. Charlize Taylor had three runs batted in on a bases clearing double. Pugh, Daisy Parker, Natilee Horn, Emmy Burton, Tori Howard, and Rylee Floyd all had one RBI each. Daisy Parker had Greenwood’s other extra base hit, a triple.

Greenwood 12, Greenbrier 2

The Lady Bulldogs wrapped up 5A West conference play on Tuesday, May 2nd, with a doubleheader sweep of the Lady Panthers of Greenbrier, securing the league’s second seed in the postseason. The GHS girls broke out the whooping sticks in both games, winning the opener 12-2 behind the good mound work of Tori Howard, who went the distance.

Howard hurled six frames of six-hit ball while also pitching around four GHS errors. She fanned seven Greenbrier hitters, stranded seven enemy baserunners, and got plenty of offensive support. The home team scored twice in the second inning, once in the third, three times in the fourth, and finished off the victory with six runs in the sixth inning.

Four GHS batters had two hits each – Rylee Cowart, Natilee Horn, Haley McAdams, and Tori Howard. McAdams and Daisy Parker both had triples in the game, and each had an RBI. Cowart, Howard, Bri Taylor, and Charlize Taylor (2) all had RBIs as well. Greenwood put the ball in play up and down the lineup with no walks or strikeouts.

Greenwood 15, Greenbrier 0

The bludgeoning continued in game two with a 15-0 win in four innings, invoking the mercy rule. The Lady Bulldogs scored two runs in the first inning, three runs in the second, four in the third, and six runs in their final at bat in the bottom of the fourth inning before the game was called. Greenwood out-hit the Lady Panthers 13 to two and took advantage of four Greenbrier errors. Haley McAdams was the starting and winning pitcher for the Lady Bulldogs.

McAdams also contributed offensively with two hits, including a double and an RBI. Paige Pugh was the batting leader for the Lady Bulldogs with three hits, all singles, with an RBI and three runs scored. Daisy Parker also had two hits and two RBIs. Rylee Cowart had a hit and RBI as did Bri Taylor. Ireland Cooper, Natilee Horn, Brilea Rofkhar, and Charlize Taylor all had one hit and two RBIs each. Lakyn Dawson also had an RBI. McAdams, Bri Taylor, and Horn all had doubles, while Ireland Cooper added a triple.

Season Summary

Head Coach Donald Hart did a fine job this season extending the winning legacy of his predecessor, Ronnie Sockey. The Lady Bulldogs also continued their tradition of making a deep run in the postseason before losing to the defending state champs (Benton) in the semifinals. With only four seniors graduating this month, there’s no reason Hart and his program won’t continue to win in the future, validating his hire to replace the ultra-successful Sockey. Athletic Director Dr. Dustin Smith, recently hired by Broken Arrow, Oklahoma as their new AD, certainly made the right call by bringing Coach Hart to Greenwood.

Seniors Ireland Cooper, Rylee Cowart, Charlize Taylor, and Paige Pugh have been valuable parts of the team for the past four years and will certainly be missed as they complete their high school eligibility. Taylor will continue her softball career at Carl Albert State College in Poteau, Oklahoma. But there will be no shortage of players ready to move up the pecking order and prove themselves worthy of replacing those four seniors next season.

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