GHS girls softball season ends in 5A quarterfinals

GHS girls softball season ends in 5A quarterfinals

Photos By: Peggy Barger

The Greenwood Lady Bulldogs softball season concluded last Friday in the 5A state quarterfinals with an extra-inning loss to Valley View. But despite the disappointing ending, falling two wins short of reaching the state finals, the GHS girls had a magnificent season. They finished at 24-5 overall and dominated the 5A West conference with a perfect 14-0 record. Head Coach Donald Hart and his staff and players have every right to be proud of what they accomplished in 2024.

Before heading into the state tournament at Harrison last Thursday, the GHS girls traveled to Bentonville two days earlier for a pre-tournament tune-up against the Lady Tigers. Their first-round game at Harrison was against Lake Hamilton, a game Greenwood won before moving on to face Valley View in the quarterfinals. Sheridan and Beebe, both #1 seeds, will now play for the 5A state championship next week at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway.

Bentonville

Lady Tigers’ starter Ryann Sanders proved too much for the Lady Bulldogs, despite Greenwood scoring a first inning run. As it turned out, that was their only run of the game in a 4-1 loss. Sanders went seven innings giving up just five hits, no walks, and striking out nine GHS hitters. Greenwood starter Tori Howard went three innings and left the game trailing 3-1 after giving up solo runs in each of the first three frames, all unearned due to Greenwood defensive errors. Alyssa Lovell followed in the circle with two innings of work, giving up another unearned run. Haley McAdams also pitched a scoreless sixth inning. Neither team scored over the final 2½ innings.

Both teams had just five hits each, and three players were responsible for those hits for Greenwood. Piper Pitts and Tori Howard had two hits each while Brilea Rofkahr had the fifth hit. Pitts and Howard both had doubles, but Rofkahr drove home the lone GHS run, scored by Ryleigh Decker. Among the best in the state, Bentonville’s Lady Tigers will be playing for the 6A state title next week against fellow 6A West member Springdale Har-Ber.

Lake Hamilton

The Lady Bulldogs opened Class 5A state tournament play last Thursday with a 12-2 run rule victory in five innings over the Lady Wolves, the #4 seed from the 5A South. An eight-run fourth inning did the trick for Greenwood, which scored 12 runs on 10 hits that included only one extra-base hit, a double by Bri Taylor. After a scoreless first inning, Greenwood scored twice in the second, once in the third, eight times in the fourth, and once more in the fifth to end the game prematurely. The Lake Hamilton girls scored their two runs in the top of the fifth.

In the circle, senior Tori Howard went the distance for Greenwood with five strong innings of work. She allowed just four hits and issued no walks while striking out six Lady Wolves. Lake Hamilton employed two hurlers, with the starter going three innings and the reliever 1.1 innings before the game was called due to the 10-run rule.

Interestingly, Greenwood scored runs from all nine offensive spots, led by Bri Taylor, Ryleigh Decker, and Saylor Hart who scored twice each. Hailey McAdams and Rylee Floyd drove home three runs each while Brilea Rofkahr, Bri Taylor, Piper Pitts, Emmy Burton, and Saylor Hart all had solo RBIs. Rofkahr, McAdams, and Taylor had two hits each with Pitts, Burton, Daisy Parker, and Floyd all had singles. Greenwood also benefited from six Lake Hamilton walks and one error. Eight of Greenwood’s 12 run were earned.

"There's a lot of pressure on the first game," said Coach Hart after the victory. "No matter who you play, we know they're a quality ball club and that it was going to be a fight. It was for several innings there. I'm very proud we were able to come in and find a way to win."

After a quiet first inning, Rylee Floyd’s single drove in Bri Taylor, who opened the second inning with a two-bagger down the left-field line, and Piper Pitts followed with an infield bouncer to plate Saylor Hart, who walked and pilfered second base for a 2-0 lead in the second inning. A Brilea Rofkahr RBI single made it 3-0 in the third inning before the Lady Bulldogs sent a dozen hitters to the plate in the fourth, scoring eight times for an 11-0 lead. Lake Hamilton scored twice in the top of the fifth, but Greenwood’s solo run in the bottom half of the frame ended the game. Haley McAdams’ single scored Daisy Parker with the walk-off game winning run.

Valley View

Friday’s second round contest with the Lady Blazers was a classic, with both teams battling to a 2-2 tie through eight innings before the decisive frame ninth sent Valley View on to the semi-finals and ended the season for the Lady Bulldogs. Senior starting pitcher Haley McAdams battled her way through seven frames of work, allowing seven hits, a walk, and two earned runs before being relieved by Tori Howard. But as good as McAdams was, Valley View starter Riley Smith was even better, going all nine innings, allowing just seven hits and two walks in earning the 7-3 victory. Smith fanned just four GHS hitters but managed to strand 10 Greenwood baserunners. The Lady Bulldogs had their chances but couldn’t cash in.

Daisy Parker doubled and scored on a sacrifice bunt by McAdams in the bottom of the first inning for a 1-0 GHS lead that stood until the sixth when the Blazers tied the score at 1-1. Valley View then took the lead with another tally in the top of the seventh, only to have the Lady Bulldogs tie the score again to force extra innings. Saylor Hart led off the frame with a bloop single before taking second on a sac bunt by Rylee Floyd and scoring on Parker's base hit.

Neither team scored in the eighth inning, though Greenwood did load the bases. Then the floodgates opened for Valley View in the top of the ninth. With two runs already in and the sacks jammed, the Blazers’ Ellie Dawson topped off the five-run rally with a gapper into left-center field to clear the bases. Greenwood plated a single run in their last at bat, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Valley View lead. Ironically, the Blazers (21-9) lost to Greenwood in the final inning in a first-round matchup last season. Valley View lost on Saturday to Sheridan in the state semifinals.

"Greenwood's a very talented team and today was going to be a grind between two great teams," said Valley View Head Coach Karen Sanders. "They scored early and kept the pressure on us. Even when we tried to put pressure on them, they responded. Anytime you go to extra innings, you never know what's going to happen. We were fortunate to come out on top."

As for Greenwood, Coach Hart and his staff are losing only three seniors off the varsity squad, though two of the three are his two best pitchers, Tori Howard and Haley McAdams. The other senior is starter Bri Taylor, one of the teams’ best hitters, so all three girls will be sorely missed, and more pitching depth will have to be developed behind sophomore Alyssa Lovell.

On the bright side, most of the starting lineup returns next season and will be more experienced. Also, with two 20-plus win seasons and consecutive appearances in the state tournament, Coach Hart and his staff have been able to continue the strong winning tradition left behind by former head coach Ronnie Sockey. The Lady Bulldogs reached the state semifinals in 2023.

 

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