GRAVETTE -- Pea Ridge's Hollyn Davis and Allie Whatley teamed up on the game-saving play during the Lady Blackhawks' 1-0 win against Gravette in the 4A-1 Conference Tournament championship on Friday.
With two outs and the tying run in third base in the sixth inning, Davis went sliding to her right from her shortstop position to backhand a sharp grounder hit by Sumer Kaba into the hole. Davis fired a throw from her knees that was scooped up by Whatley at first base for the final out to preserve the lead and, essentially, the victory.
"That was a big-time play," said Pea Ridge coach Josh Reynolds. "She made the play and our first baseman made an even better play to pick it out of the dirt. That was a big momentum change at a big point in the game."
Both Pea Ridge (25-3) and Gravette (20-7) finished district play with identical 15-1 records. They split in head-to-head matchups with the Lady Blackhawks winning 8-4 on March 14 and losing 5-2 on April 10. Because of combined districts this season, a vote by 4A-1 coaches gave the Lady Lions the top seed and a first-round bye in the tournament while Pea Ridge entered as the No. 2 seed.
"They're a great team, well-coached and have a bunch of senior leadership," said Gravette coach Taos Jones. "They've been in the dogfights before, so we knew it was going to be a dogfight for us and it was."
The rubber-match between the two teams was a pitchers' duel between Pea Ridge's Stephanie Chase and Gravette's Cally Kildow. Chase, a junior right-hander, finished off a complete-game, two-hit shutout with her ninth strikeout.
"Gravette's a good team and they're going to put some pressure on you," Reynolds said. "And she made big pitches when we needed them. This was probably her best game."
Kildow, a freshman who has verbally committed to Arkansas, struck out the first six batters she faced. She finished with 12 strikeouts while allowing four hits and walking none. The lone run was unearned as it came after a two-out error in the third inning allowed Halley Laster to reach first base. Laster advanced to second on a single by Davis and scored on a line-drive single to left by Kieara Bryant.
"She's going to be around the zone with all 5-6 pitches she throws," Reynolds said. "We've just got to wait for her to make a mistake and when she made a mistake, we were able to capitalize on them and you don't get too many with her."
Third-place game: Lincoln 9, Prairie Grove 1
Pea Ridge 10, Shiloh Christian 2
Coach John King positioned himself with his back against a fence to make sure his players couldn't sneak up from behind to pour a bucket of ice water over his head, just as they did after his Blackhawks defeated Shiloh Christian in last year's 4A-1 Conference Tournament championship game.
"I watching them. I'm a little wiser this year," said King, who won his 500th career game earlier this season. "We were up on our pitch count, so we threw a freshman (Tate Busey) that we all had confidence in and we played great defense behind him."
The third-seeded Blackhawks (20-5) defeated Gentry and Gravette to reach the championship game. They used a three-run fifth inning to break open a 1-1 tie before pulling away for the upset against the top-seeded Saints (19-6).
Third-place game: Huntsville 11, Gravette 0
Sports on 04/29/2017
Print Headline: Pea Ridge sweeps 4A-1 titles