The Greenwood Lady Bulldogs’ will begin play in the 5A state softball tournament on Thursday this week. Three wins will earn Head Coach Ronnie Sockey and his team a coveted spot in the state finals a week later.
As the top seed from the 5A West, the GHS girls will play Jacksonville, the fourth seed from the 5A Central. Game time is set for 5:30 p.m. at Benton High School.
Jacksonville is only 7-19 on the season, but all seven of their wins came in conference play, including a doubleheader split against Pine Bluff last week that clinched their post-season berth.
In preparation for Thursday’s opening-round contest, the Lady Bulldogs were slated to host Bentonville-West this past Monday on senior night. Mariah Hamilton and Karli Fisher are the only two seniors on the roster, and both were honored before the game.
But shortly after the contest started, with the visitors up 2-0, rain and lightning forced the players from the field and ultimately required cancellation of the game.
Barring the scheduling of another game, the Lady Bulldogs will have to be content with practicing among themselves before leaving for Benton on Thursday.
Also, the weather forecast is not good for the Central Arkansas area this weekend, especially on Thursday, so it will be difficult to keep the games on schedule or avoid postponements. Anyone planning to attend the games should be prepared for rain.
The Lady Bulldogs finished their regular season with an outstanding overall record of 22-5. They went 12-2 in 5A West conference play, followed by Greenbrier (12-2), Beebe (11-3), and Vilonia (8-6). All four qualified for the state tournament.
The Greenbrier girls were unbeaten in league play at 12-0 with a two-game lead over Greenwood until the Lady Bulldogs showed up last Tuesday and swept both halves of a twinbill to force a tie and earn the top spot in the league standings by virtue of the tiebreaker.
On April 26th the Lady Bulldogs travelled north to Bentonville for a non-conference contest against the Lady Tigers, who jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning.
Still trailing 2-0 after five frames, the GHS girls rallied with two runs in the top of the sixth to tie the score, then three more runs in the seventh for the 5-2 win.
Haven Clements was the starting and winning pitcher for Greenwood, going the distance, allowing just the two early runs on five total hits, walking none with one strikeout.
Bentonville’s Cailey Cochran fanned 10 GHS hitters and allowed just six hits, but her defense let her down. Three errors led to all five GHS runs in the sixth and seventh innings.
Mariah Hamilton had two hits for Greenwood, including a double and two RBIs. Ally Sockey also had a hit and two walks, scoring two runs.
The following Tuesday, April 30th, the GHS girls traveled to Central Arkansas with one mission in mind, to sweep both halves of their doubleheader with the Lady Panthers.
Greenwood trailed Greenbrier by two games in the 5A West standings with two games remaining. The Lady Panthers were unbeaten at 12-0 while the Lady Bulldogs were 10-2.
At stake was not only the conference championship, but the league’s top seed in the playoff, and the GHS girls were up to the task.
In game one Haven Clements went the distance for the 5-1 win. She gave up seven hits, two walks, and one earned run. She pitched to contact, striking out just one hitter, but her defense was perfect behind her.
Greenwood scored one run in the top of the second inning, but took charge of the game with four runs in the third for a 5-0 lead. Greenbrier scored its lone run in the home half of the fourth.
Offensively, the Lady Bulldogs banged out 10 hits, led by Clements, Angela Price, and Mariah Hamilton with two hits each. Paxtyn Hayes had a homerun and three RBIs.
In game two Coach Sockey turned to Rheding Wagoner as his starting pitcher and she also went the distance for the 4-2 victory. She scattered nine hits and relied on her defense, which remained perfect.
All the runs in the game were scored in the middle innings. The Lady Bulldogs broke through first with two runs in the top of the third. Greenbrier then tied the score with two runs in the bottom of the fourth.
Greenwood took the lead for good in the top of the fifth, pushing across the winning runs for a 4-2 lead. Wagoner then made that lead stand up, retiring Greenbrier hitters in order in the fifth, stranding two runners in the sixth, and giving up a lone single in the seventh.
Leadoff hitter Emma McCorkle led the GHS offense, going 3-for-3 and scoring two runs. Paxtyn Hayes and Angela Price both had doubles, with Price driving home a run. Ally Sockey also had a hit and two RBIs.
Assuming no rainouts or postponements, the Lady Bulldogs will play Thursday at 5:30 p.m. Should they win, game two will be Friday at the same time, with the semi-finals set for Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
Should the Lady Bulldogs reach the state finals, the game will be held next weekend at Bogle Park on the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville. The date and time of the game will be released later.