ASHDOWN, Ark. – The Smackover softball team has a rare combination of power at the plate, and on the mound.
The Lady Buckaroos won the 3A South region in a rare Sunday night game at Ashdown City Park over host Ashdown, 5-3. Both teams advance to the 3A state tournament in Harrison next week. Fouke will be going as the region’s third seed after a wild 6-5 win over Genoa Central in nine innings.
On the other side of the park, Ashdown and Genoa Central won in the semifinals of the baseball tournament. The third place game between Fouke and DeWitt will be played Monday at noon. Ashdown and Genoa Central clash at 2:30 p.m. The Panthers shut out DeWitt, 7-0, while the Dragons blanked Fouke, 10-0.
Smackover (25-3) went into Sunday’s semis with 45 home runs this season. The Buckaroos failed to hit a roundtripper against the Lady Panthers, but they hit the ball hard from beginning to end. Smackover scored single runs in the second and third for an early 2-0 lead.
Ashdown (19-10) answered with two unearned runs in the top of the fifth off freshman pitcher Mallory Pullin.
Freshman pitches gem for Smackover
The young right-hander was dominating most of the game, finishing with a three-hitter and 13 strikeouts. Abby Crawford led the winners with two singles, while Megan Mullins contributed a double. Sabrina Estridge and Mallory Pullin had a single each, and Lydia Pullin added a sacrifice fly.
“Mallory is a freshman, and she’s pitched well all year long,” said Smackover coach Dennis Steele. “I’ve got three pitchers who are 9-1, 8-1 and 8-1. They’ve all done a great job this season, and they support each other. We hit the ball well, and play good defense, too.”
Steele joked that bad coaching is the only reason Smackover has lost three games this season.
Losing pitcher Angelina McGinn, Adaysia Thompson and Kenya Wilson had Ashdown’s hits.
The Arkansas Activities Association allowed the tournament to conclude Sunday after heavy rain had delayed the event two days.
Wild finish leaves Fouke on top
Fouke scored first Sunday, but it didn’t look good for the Lady Panthers after Genoa Central scored three runs in the top of the eighth.
The Lady Panthers trailed 4-2 with two outs, and runners at second and third. A wild throw allowed both runners to score, eventually sending the game into the ninth inning.
Once again the Lady Dragons scored to take a 5-4 lead. Starting with a runner at second (International softball rule), Alyssa Caudle was sacrificed to third, and scored on a single by Laykin Smallwood. Mallory Oliver then delivered a walk-off double to score Smallwood.
Kacey Solida went all nine innings for the pitching win.
Genoa Central (20-5) scored three runs in the first and second innings to take early command in its confrontation with rival Fouke.
Cason Brigham started on the mound and got the pitching win for the Dragons. Shortstop Dylan Rushing led Genoa at the plate with a double and two singles. Chase Cook and Dylan Turley also had two hits each for the Dragons. Anzi East and Connor Hobson had Fouke’s only hits.
Ashdown and DeWitt were scoreless after three innings, but the Panthers broke it open in the fourth on run-scoring hits by Will Burnett and Keamon Nutt to make it 4-0.
Winning pitcher Cody Flowers, Coleman Newberry, Bradley Bearden and Blake Ritter all had hits for Ashdown.