Lady Mustangs punch ticket to 2A State softball tourney
Buffalo Island Central exploded for 16 runs in the second inning and went on to destroy Pangburn 23-3 in the first round of the 2A Regional Softball Tournament Friday afternoon at Tuckerman. The victory gave the Lady Mustangs their fourth straight state tournament berth.
BIC fell behind 3-0 after the first inning, but stormed back, scoring 23 unanswered runs in picking up their 16th win of the season.
Auburn-Montgomery signee Karoline Thomas had a huge day at the plate, going 5-5, including a double. Thomas drove home three runs and also scored three times. Right fielder Heather Sipes singled three times while belting a double. The freshman also scored three runs. Senior first baseman Kelsey Strickland, a CRC signee, ripped three singles and had two RBI while scoring a pair of runs. Centerfielder Catherine Colbert cracked three singles, delivered three RBI and scored twice. Second baseman Madison Greathouse singled, tripled, drove in two runs and scored four times. Bailey Owens singled, doubled, scored twice and had two RBI. Lexie Ray singled, doubled, scored a pair of runs and had an RBI while Hannah Poe slashed a pair of singles, scored twice and had two RBI. Molly Hart crossed the plate three times for the Lady Mustangs.
Ray earned the win in the five inning game, working three innings, allowing two earned runs. Ray fanned three and gave up six hits. Greathouse pitched two shutout innings, allowing just one hit while fanning one.
"It's feels really good to be going to the state tournament again," said Lady Mustang Coach Marty Williford. "We spotted them three early runs, but came back and really just hammered the ball. This is probably the best we've hit the ball all season. We hit it hard and in the gaps. We really had a great day at the plate."
BIC faced defending Class 1A State Champion Midland in the semifinals, losing a heartbreaking 1-0 decision in eight innings. Neither team could score through the first seven frames. Both Midland and BIC squandered the few scoring opportunities they had, failing to deliver a key hit, resulting in extra innings.
BIC had a golden opportunity to score in the top of the eighth, but left a runner stranded at third. Midland made good on their extra inning chance when Kelly Lytle banged the game winning single over Sipes' head in right field, propelling Midland into the regional finals.
Paisley Pratt earned the win for Midland, working eight complete innings, allowing just four hits while fanning 14 Lady Mustangs. Ray was the hard luck loser for BIC, pitching 7 2/3 innings, allowing just one run on six hits.
BIC's four hits came from Colbert, Poe, Strickland and Hart, who all had singles.
"We just didn't have our bats against Midland," said Williford. "I guess we used them up yesterday. We just couldn't catch up with the ball for some reason. We couldn't put the ball in play. Had we been able to put the ball in play, we'd had a great chance to win the game. On the plus side, it was the best defensive game we've played all year. Lexie Ray pitched an excellent game for us. It was just a tough one to lose."
The Lady Mustangs will enter this week's state tournament as either a third or fourth seed. The 2A State Tournament will begin Thursday at Norphlett.