Lady Bobcats have a record-breaking season
The Berryville Lady Bobcat softball team has a lot to be proud of this year. The Lady Bobcats reached the class 4A state tournament for the first time in school history and recorded 21 wins, which is the most in Josh Hatfield's first three years as head coach of the Lady Bobcats.
"Getting to state was something that had never been done before and the girls worked really hard to get to that point," Hatfield said. "They played really hard when it mattered. In the Dardanelle game in regionals, we came out and played well there for a bit and were able to advance to state. Then when we got to state, we played a really good game against Harrisburg to win a game at state. Both of those are firsts and something to be very proud of."
Aspen Smith was the lone senior on this year’s team.
"Coming over from volleyball and basketball, she has had a lot of success in all of her other sports," Hatfield said. "We have had some, but not as much as we did this year in softball so with her coming over and bringing a winning attitude, she was ready to come to work and perform at game time."
Hatfield acknowledges Smith will be difficult to replace.
"She is going to be a tough one to replace," Hatfield said. "She played a tough position of catcher. We are definitely going to be looking for someone to move in and fill that role. We have some good young ones moving in and some girls that didn't get to play a lot, but were close to playing. They are hungry to play and so we are excited for that as well."
In the 14-9 win against Dardanelle, which put the Lady Bobcats in the Class 4A state tournament, Berryville scored four runs in the top of the fifth inning and added seven more in the sixth inning. Lexi Woods had five RBIs and four hits on the day, while Aspen Smith had three RBIs and a hit. Anna Caroline Stone had three hits. In the 8-4 nine-inning victory over Harrisburg in the first round of the state tournament, Berryville trailed 1-0 going into the top of the seventh inning, but a LoraGrace Hill single to center field scored Taylor Kelley and Stone. The Lady Hornets tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom half of the inning. After each team scored a run in the eighth inning, Berryville scored five runs in the top of the ninth to secure the victory. Kate Powell, Eve Linz, Hayley Rivett, Kelley and Stone all scored. Kelley pitched a complete game and struck out nine.
The Lady Bobcats had six all-conference players this year in Maleah Bryant, Smith, Woods, Rivett, Kelley and Hill. Kelley was also an all-state player. Kelley and Rivett will represent Berryville in the junior all-star classic, which will take place later this month in Conway.
"Taylor was phenomenal for us this year," Hatfield said. "She really played well in clutch situations and showed what a great talent she is. Taylor, along with her teammates, deserve all the accolades they received this year."
Hatfield hopes to build upon this success next year.
"The girls need to continue to be hungry and come out and work to improve every day," Hatfield said. "Every day we come out and practice, we look to get better from the day before. This year is done and we are ready to move on to next year. Hopefully everybody is ready to come out and get better both individually and as a team."
Hatfield adds that the team will stay busy this summer.
"In the past, we have played at the Harrison league, but for some reason there aren't as many teams playing this summer," Hatfield said. "We are going to try to get in and play some games here and there. I think we are going up to Hollister to play them and Reeds Springs. We are definitely going to get some games in for sure."