BENTONVILLE — Fort Smith Northside picked up a much-needed sigh of relief from Kylie Templemeyer and some extra breathing room from Shanoe Teague.
Templemeyer broke an eighth-inning tie with a sacrifice fly, then Teague’s home run gave Northside an 8-6 victory over Rogers Heritage to start the Class 6A state softball tournament at the Tiger Athletic Complex.
“My assistant coach helped me with my swing,” Teague said after the game. “She said I was trying a little too hard and to just let it come back a little bit more, relax and hit the ball. I finally got a hold of it. I knew it was gone right off the bat.”
Northside started the eighth with Hannah Entrekin, the final batter in the seventh, on second base because of the extra-inning tie-breaker used, and she went to third on a passed ball. She easily came home when Templemeyer lofted a high fly ball to left field.
Teague then turned on a pitch to belted her shot over the right-field fence to give Northside (11-13) the two-run cushion. Heritage (6-17) also started its half of the eighth with a runner on second, but Lady Bears pitcher Cailin Massey retired the three Lady War Eagles pitchers she faced to preserve the lead.
“That gives our pitcher some confidence when she goes back out there and we have two runs to work with,” Lady Bears coach Kelly Nickell said. “She gets more comfortable in the circle, so it was nice.
“Shanoe was really wanting that. She’s a great hitter, and for her to come through like that was amazing.”
Northside had to make a comeback in the fifth after Kayla Paulo’s three-run home run in the fourth gave Heritage a 6-3 lead. The Lady Bears banged out four straight two-out hits, including a two-run home run by Mariady Dempsey and an RBI double by Templemeyer that tied the game.
“There were a couple of innings where we did well, then we struggled some,” Nickell said. “The pitcher’s timing was a little different than what we’re used to seeing, and we were having some trouble getting our timing down.”
Northside advances to a 10 a.m. game today against 6A-Central top seed North Little Rock, which received a first-round bye.