GHS girls varsity softballers off to great start

GHS girls varsity softballers off to great start

As expected, the Lady Bulldogs varsity softball team is off and running this season in pursuit of a return trip to the 5A state finals. They last reached the title game in 2019 before falling to Sheridan, winners of four consecutive 5A or 6A state crowns since losing the 6A title to Greenwood in 2015. No championship was awarded in 2020 due to Covid-19.

Head Coach Ronnie Sockey pushed back the start of the varsity schedule to accommodate basketball, which ended with Greenwood’s quarter-finals loss to the eventual state champion Jonesboro Lady Hurricane on March 12th. Several of Greenwood’s top players participate in both sports. But during the brief delay the junior varsity girls got some important playing time and experience, going 6-3 overall.

With basketball concluded, nearly half-a-dozen girls quickly made the transition to softball, including seniors Haven Clements, Ally Sockey, Kinley Fisher, junior Abby Summitt, and sophomore Mady Cartwright. All are expected to contribute significantly to this year’s title chase, especially Clements and Sockey. The former is the team’s best and most experienced pitcher, and the latter is the coach’s daughter, starting shortstop, and one of the premiere players in the nation.

After competing in a tournament at Farmington last weekend, the Lady Bulldogs are off for spring break before returning to action at home on Monday, March 29th, against the Lady Mavericks of Fort Smith Southside. Greenwood will travel to Van Buren the following day for a 5A West conference game against the Lady Pointers. Both dates include a varsity and junior varsity doubleheader with the varsity game starting at 4:30 p.m. each day.

Russellville

Just four days after basketball season, Haven Clements found herself toeing the rubber for the Lady Bulldogs in the first game of a conference doubleheader at home against the Lady Cyclones of Russellville. Despite some first inning trouble, Clements was credited with the 12-2 victory, completing five innings of work, striking out seven with no walks.

She gave up a pair of singles and a double in the first inning before retiring the next three hitters, the first of 15 consecutive batters she retired before leaving the game. She got relief help from sophomore hurler Madelynn Cassat, who closed out the victory, allowing one hit in her only inning of work. The game was called early after the GHS girls posted a 10-run lead in the bottom of the sixth.

At the plate, the Lady Bulldogs banged out 14 hits and took advantage of six Russellville errors. Nine of Greenwood’s 12 runs were earned. The home team played flawless defense with no errors and both runs scored by the visitors were earned. Among the GHS hits were seven extra-base knocks, including five doubles and a pair of triples, but no homeruns.

Ally Sockey led the way offensively with three hits, including a single, double, and triple, scoring a run and leading the team with six total bases. Sophomore catcher Charlize Taylor was right behind with five total bases on two hits, a double and triple, with an RBI and two runs scored. Clements and junior outfielder Macey Cutsinger also had two hits each, all singles. Cutsinger also scored twice and both girls had an RBI. Additional runs were driven home by seniors Chelsi Possage and Natalie Thomas (2), and sophomores Mady Cartwright, Claire Chapple, and Rylee Cowart (2).

Game two was almost a mirror image of the opener, with the Lady Cyclones scoring both of their runs in the first inning before being shut out the rest of the way by GHS pitching. The Lady Bulldogs tied the game with two runs in the bottom of the first and continued to score in every frame, ending the game after six innings by an identical 12-2 score.

Freshman hurler Tori Howard earned the victory, giving up just the two runs and four hits over five innings, with zero walks and one strikeout, allowing her defense to work for her. Oddly enough, both runs scored on back-to-back solo homeruns by Russellville to start the game. Howard then retired the next seven hitters she faced and completed five innings for the mercy rule win.

The Lady Bulldogs once again reached double-digits in hits with an even dozen, half of which were extra-base knocks, including three doubles, a triple, and two homers. Ally Sockey and Charlize Taylor led the way with three hits each. Taylor had two singles and a homerun with four RBIs, while Sockey had a single, double, and triple, with two RBIs.

Taylor’s homerun came in the third inning with a runner on, while her fourth inning double came with the bases loaded. Fresh out of basketball, Sockey went six for eight in the doubleheader with four extra-base hits while handling her defensive duties at shortstop.

Others who contributed with their bat included Macey Cutsinger with a single and three runs scored, Chelsi Possage with a hit, RBI, and two runs scored, Natalie Thomas with a double and two RBIs, a solo homer by promising freshman Myia McCoy, and singles by Claire Chapple and Tori Howard.

Fort Smith Northside

Last Thursday, March 18th, the GHS girls hosted the Lady Bears of Fort Smith Northside, who put up a six-spot in the fourth inning to take a 6-3 lead, forcing Greenwood to rally over the next three frames before pulling out a hard-earned 9-7 non-conference victory. The biggest hit in the game came off the bat of Myia McCoy, who blasted a three-run homer in the bottom of the fifth inning to put Greenwood back on top to stay. It was the freshman’s second longball of the week.

Haven Clements started in the circle for the Lady Bulldogs and completed five innings of work, allowing six runs on five hits, while striking out two Northside hitters. She was relieved by Tori Howard, who threw the final two innings, giving up a single unearned run in the sixth, but recorded the save.

Greenwood jumped out to a 2-0 lead after one inning and 3-0 after two, but fell behind 6-2 after Northside’s fourth inning explosion. The Lady Bears’ rally came with two outs and one runner on base, followed by a pair of wild pitches, two walks, a couple singles, and a homerun to complete the scoring.

But the Lady Bulldogs promptly responded with two runs of their own in the bottom half of the frame, ignited by a single and stolen base by McCoy, who later advanced to third and scored on a sacrifice fly by Ally Sockey. Macey Cutsinger also reached on an error and scored on a double by Chelsi Possage, making the score 6-5 in favor of the visitors.

After a one-out walk and a single in the bottom of the fifth, McCoy lifted a deep drive over the left-centerfield wall to put Greenwood back on top to stay, 8-6. The Lady Bulldogs then added an insurance run in the sixth on a solo homer by senior Natalie Thomas. The Lady Bears scored their final run in the sixth with the help of an error, but were retired in order in the seventh on a fly ball and two infield pop ups.

Greenwood rattled Northside pitching for 11 hits, including six doubles and two homeruns. Charlize Taylor led the way with three two-baggers and two runs driven home, followed by Myia McCoy’s big day that included a single and a three-run homer. Besides her three RBIs, McCoy scored twice as well. Claire Chapple also had two hits for the Lady Bulldogs, while Ally Sockey added two RBIs on a double and sac fly.

Farmington Tournament

Greenwood didn’t wait long after the start of spring break last Friday to take part in their first tournament of the season at Farmington in Northwest Arkansas, winning twice over Elkins and Rogers-Heritage. The Lady Bulldogs blew out both opponents, topping Elkins 16-1 on Friday before subduing Heritage 13-5 on Saturday, improving their record to 5-0 for the season.

Greenwood whacked 14 hits in just four innings of play while taking advantage of two Elkins errors in their tournament opener. The Lady Bulldogs put up crooked numbers in all four frames, scoring five runs in both the first and third innings, and three runs in both the second and fourth stanzas. Altogether, Greenwood stroked five homeruns in the contest, while three GHS hurlers limited Elkins to only one hit, a homerun to lead off the second inning.

Madelynn Cassat, Tori Howard, and Haley McAdams combined for four innings of stellar work, allowing just three Elkins baserunners on a homer and two walks. Howard started the game and pitched two frames, earning the victory. She also recorded a pair of strikeouts among her six outs, but did give up a solo homerun.

Greenwood’s first three tallys came on a pair of homeruns by Ally Sockey and Charlize Taylor sandwiched around a single by Chelsi Possage. Taylor’s two-run blast made it 3-0, but the Lady Bulldogs tacked on two more runs later in the frame with the help of a walk, a hit batsman, a fielder’s choice, and a pair of singles by Claire Chapple and Myia McCoy.

Statistically, the Lady Bulldogs were paced at the plate by senior Chelsi Possage with three hits and five total bases. The team’s starting second baseman went 3-for-3, rapping a pair of singles and a double, driving in a run and scoring three times. A transfer from Oklahoma, the pandemic wiped out her junior season with the Lady Bulldogs, but her stock remains high. Along with teammate Ally Sockey, Possage has already committed to play for the Lady Razorbacks in college.

Three other Lady Bulldogs had two hits each, including Natalie Thomas, Claire Chapple, and Sockey. Both of Thomas’ hits left the yard as she accumulated five RBIs in the game. Chapple had a single and double, while the coach’s daughter had a double and homerun with two RBIs and scored two runs. Sophomore Paige Pugh also cracked a three-run homer in the bottom of the fourth that ended the game with Greenwood up by 15 runs.

Game two came on Saturday against Rogers-Heritage, a 13-5 GHS victory in seven innings. Haven Clements started and went five frames to earn the victory, allowing five runs on nine hits while fanning two Rogers’ hitters. Tori Howard entered the game in the sixth and closed out the win, giving up a harmless single in relief.

As the visiting team, Greenwood scored twice in the top of the first, but trailed 3-2 after two innings. Then the Lady Bulldogs got the offense rolling in the middle innings, scoring three times in the third, twice more in the fourth, and four times in the fifth before adding single runs in the both the sixth and seventh innings. The Heritage girls plated their final two runs in the fourth.

Ally Sockey was the hitting star for Greenwood with a 4-for-4 performance. All of her hits were singles, but she plated three runs and scored three times herself. The Lady Bulldogs also got six doubles from Chelsi Possage, Natalie Thomas, Myia McCoy, Mady Cartwright, Charlize Taylor, and Paige Pugh, to go along with another homerun by Thomas, who drove in four runs with her two hits. McCoy, Taylor, and Pugh had one RBI each.

After returning to action next week against Southside and Van Buren, the Lady Bulldogs will travel to Farmington on April Fools Day for a varsity/junior varsity doubleheader before playing in a tournament in Van Buren next weekend.

 

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