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SOFTBALL: Gravette rallies late to claim 4A-North title in 3-0 win against Pea Ridge

by Chip Souza | May 9, 2023 at 6:30 a.m.
Annette Beard/Westside Eagle Observer Gravette's softball team poses with the regional championship plaque following its shutout win over Pea Ridge on Saturday.

GRAVETTE -- Patience paid off for Gravette on Saturday, resulting in a regional softball championship.

The Lady Lions and Pea Ridge were locked in a scoreless game through five innings as pitching for both teams was dominant. But Gravette finally broke through in the bottom of the sixth, scoring three runs for a 3-0 win in the 4A-North title game.

Gravette Coach Samantha Luther didn't give her team a rah-rah speech before the inning. She told them to play like they have all season.

"We just said do it like you know how to do it," Luther said. "Just play our game, our ball and just make some small adjustments."

Pea Ridge right-hander Emory Bowin had handcuffed the Lady Lions (20-2) for most of the game, working out of a couple of minor jams to keep the game scoreless. But in the bottom of the sixth, Gravette finally broke through against the Lady Blackhawks' ace.

"We've done pretty well all season staying off her rise ball," said Luther. "Today, we came out, and we started swinging at it. But we made the adjustments that we needed to make, and we hit the ball the way that we know how to."

Bentley Lowden got the rally started with a lead-off single, and Brynn Romine followed with a bloop single into shallow left that landed just fair to put two runners on. Laney Chilton laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners up.

Kenlee Harris, who was brought in to run for Lowden, was able to score the game's first run on a wild pitch. Then catcher Kelsey Pembleton smoked a double to left, scoring Romine. Sydney Kildow followed with another RBI double to make it 3-0.

"We did the right thing and bunted when we needed to in that situation," said Luther of Chilton's sacrifice. "That was big. We talk about bunting because, in practice, they tend to go through it lightly. But I tell them, 'When do we bunt? We bunt when it's a high-pressure situation, and you've got to get it down.' It's something that can be overlooked, but it's super important."

Gravette's Brooke Handle closed the game out with her fourth scoreless inning to set off a celebration. Kildow started in the circle and pitched three hitless, scoreless innings before Luther brought in her ace in the top of the fourth.

Pea Ridge (18-10) had scant chances to score in the game, but its best shot came in the top of the sixth when it loaded the bases on singles from Hope Konkler and Bowlin. A walk loaded the bases, but Handle worked out of it on a fly ball to shallow left to end the threat.

Gravette advanced to the final with a 13-1 win against Farmington earlier Saturday. Pea Ridge hammered Morrilton 19-2 in the other semifinal.

In the third-place game, Farmington claimed the No. 3 seed for next week's Class 4A state tournament by crushing Morrilton 17-1.

Gravette is scheduled to play in the state tournament in Lonoke at 10 a.m. Friday against the winner of Thursday's game between Nashville and Brookland. Should the Lady Lions win, they go on to play in the 4A semifinal round at noon on Saturday, with the championship game to follow.

photo Annette Beard/Westside Eagle Observer Members of the Gravette Lady Lion softball team celebrate as they receive the regional championship plaque on Saturday at Gravette High School.

Print Headline: Gravette claims 4A-North regional title


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