Pottsville 5, Morrilton 3 (8 innings)
Pottsville was probably the last team that Morrilton wanted to see on the softball diamond during Monday’s 4A state semi-final. Yes, Morrilton had beaten Pottsville the four times previous, but it is tough to beat even a decent team that many times during a season—much less a state semi-finalist.
Both teams made somewhat of an unlikely run to this round. Pottsville was the four seed out of the 4A north. While Morrilton came into the state tournament as the third seed. The Devil Dog softball team had won the 4A-4 regular season and district tournament only being defeated once by a conference foe in that span. One of those foes was not Pottsville.
The Devil Dogs were upset in the regional semi-finals by Gravette (1-0) to send them to the third-place game where they beat Pottsville, again.
The fifth time was the charm for the Pottsville softball team against the Morrilton Devil Dogs, but it didn’t come easy. The Apaches led 2-0 over Morrilton going into the bottom of the seventh when Morrilton scored two in the inning which to extend the game. The second one that came on what can only be described as a “weird play.” After said “weird play” the Apaches did not allow Morrilton’s comeback to affect them to their credit. The two teams would go into extra innings tied at two.
Coach Lyndsey Hill said that the team stayed focused even though they could have fallen apart. “We talked about staying focused and not giving into the hype of the crowd, not worrying about umpires, but controlling the things that we could control.”
AAA rules allow teams to place a runner at second base to start the inning. The Apaches then bunted in two consecutive at-bats and the pressure seemed to the Devil Dogs and were unable to convert the bunts to outs which loaded the bases. Julia Reynolds stepped up to the plate after being 0 for 3 in her previous at-bats and on an 0-2 count Reynolds doubled which scored two Apache runners. The Apaches were able to plate another run to make the score 5-2 going into the bottom of the eighth inning.
The Devil Dogs took one last shot at the plate and were able to push one run across when Madison Maurot grounded into a double play. With two outs and a trip to the state finals on the line Shannon Lasey struck out the final Morrilton batter to punch their ticket to Bogel Park and the state finals.
Shannon Lasey pitched 8.0 innings allowed 5 hits and 2 earned runs along 5 strikeouts. Kayli Pennington went 2 for 4 with a homerun.
The Apaches will play Farmington in their third straight appearance state championship appearance and fifth overall.