Lady Bears nip BIC 3-1 to take Class 2A softball title
Buffalo Island Central's quest for a Class 2A State Softball title came crashing down at the hands of Spring Hill who dealt the Lady Mustangs a 3-1 defeat Saturday, May 23, at Bogle Park on the campus of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.
Fielding miscues by both squads gave their opponents several scoring opportunities, but it was the Lady Bears who capitalized, plating a pair of unearned runs. Spring Hill got on the board with a run in the bottom of the second inning. Maegan Ward, who garnered the Most Valuable Player Award, led off with a walk. Ward advanced to second when BIC shortstop Karoline Thomas watched Taylor Teague's soft liner pop out of her glove for an error. Ward stole third and sprinted home when BIC catcher Bailey Owens' throw sailed over third baseman Molly Hart's glove into left field for BIC's second error of the inning, giving Spring Hill a 1-0 edge.
Spring Hill pitcher Kalyne Powell retired the first 10 BIC batters before Catherine Colbert reached base with an infield single with one out in the fourth. Thomas followed with a line drive base hit to left field, putting runners at first and second. Kelsey Strickland grounded out, moving both runners into scoring position. Powell then plucked Owens with a pitch, loading the bases, but the sophomore right hander retired the next batter to end the BIC scoring threat.
Spring Hill tacked on another run in their half of the fourth. Sydney Orr reached on an error and advanced to second on an infield single by Ward. Orr and Ward pulled off a double steal, putting runners at second and third. Madison Greathouse, who took the loss for BIC, struck out the next batter, but in an attempt to pick off Ward at second, Orr stole home, giving Spring Hill a 2-0 advantage.
BIC finally got on the scoreboard in the sixth inning. Colbert began the frame reaching base on an error. Thomas hit a laser that appeared headed for the left centerfield gap, but Lady Bear third baseman Kelsey Gamage made a diving grab for the out. Gamage attempted to double off Colbert at first, but her throw sailed wide, allowing Colbert to advance to second. Strickland reached first on an infield single as Colbert moved to third with one out. Strickland attempted to steal second base, but Ward threw a dart, nailing the BIC senior for the second out of the inning. Colbert scooted home when a passed ball was charged to Ward, slicing the Spring Hill lead to 2-1.
The Lady Bears answered in their half of the inning when Ward cracked a high drive to straight away right field. BIC's Heather Sipes broke in, then retreated before losing her footing as the ball sailed over her head to the fence. Ward raced around the bases for an inside the park homer and a 3-1 Lady Bear lead.
Powell retired the Lady Mustangs in order in the top of the seventh, igniting a Spring Hill celebration.
Ward completed the day 2-2 with a walk, two runs scored and an RBI. Powell pitched seven innings, giving up just three hits and one run while fanning four.
Greathouse worked six innings, giving up three runs, one earned. The senior right hander who finished the season 15-3, surrendered six hits while striking out six and issuing one base on balls.
Spring Hill finished the season 24-3 while BIC completed a 20-5 campaign.
"This group of seniors battled so hard and they wanted it so bad," said an emotional BIC Coach Marty Williford. "We hit the ball; they just caught everything. They are so athletic. We couldn't hit a line drive to save our lives. Everything was in the air. They just ran everything down. We got a couple of errors from them and scored a run on a passed ball. I thought it would give us some momentum, but it just wasn't our day. Both teams made errors. They just took better advantage of our mistakes than we did with theirs."
"Give Spring Hill credit; they made a couple of big defensive plays. I thought Madison Greathouse pitched a really solid ball game. It's going to be tough saying goodbye to these seniors. They went 88-15 in their career and made two state finals appearances. They have a lot of heart. They've shown our freshmen and sophomores how to win and how to lose gracefully. We are a team. We're a family," Williford concluded.