Pea Ridge comes close, but finishes as state runner-up

Lady ’Hawks set high standard

BENTON -- The Pea Ridge Blackhawk softball team made history in May with a dash through the playoffs to grab a berth in the 4A State Championship game, but they couldn't overcome Morrilton's tough pitching and solid defense as they lost a close 4-2 decision to the Devil Dogs.

The 'Hawks had lost to Morrilton in the North Region final two weeks prior, but by a wider margin, 8-2. The Devil Dogs' run through the Region and State Tournaments saw them limit their six opponents to but seven total runs overall, a tad higher than a run a game.

Of the seven runs, the Blackhawks scored four of them. Morillton blanked Star City, 8-0, then Nashville, 4-0, in the first rounds of state, before beating the 'Hawks 4-2 in the final.

Pea Ridge shut out Camden, 3-0, in the first round of state, then crushed Stuttgart, 10-0, in the quarterfinals, and then eased past Farmington, 5-4, in a semifinal matchup to earn their state finals berth, the first in school history.

The 'Hawks couldn't touch the Devil Dogs ace in the first inning, going down in order. It appeared Pea Ridge ace Aidan Dayberry would replicate the effort, retiring the first two batters she faced. However, the third one, Cheyanne Kemp, caught up with a pitch to send it over the fence and give the favored team a 1-0 lead.

With two outs, the Dogs kept their inning alive as Taylor Berry used a deflected infield hit to get on base, with Loren Reynolds drawing a walk. Makenna Keaton then singled to double the lead to 2-0, going into the second inning.

The second inning saw no scoring for either team, and the 'Hawks were held scoreless into the top of the fourth. It was at this point, the 'Hawks had no hits, but Alevia Reyna bunted her way on to get on base. Reyna then advanced to second base on a wild pitch, with Dallice White chasing her home with single past the infielders, cutting the deficit to 3-1 .

The score held firm until the fifth when Ashley Early powered a single then scored on a Blakelee Winn double, making a new game of it, trailing the Dogs by just one at 3-2.

Just when it seemed things were moving the Blackhawks' way, the Dogs' Reynolds hit only her second homer of the year in the bottom of the fifth to restore Morrilton's two-run lead at 4-2.

Neither side could dent the plate in the last two innings, with the 'Hawks having to settle for the runner-up state trophy.

The year 2021 was a memorable year for the Lady 'Hawks as they became the first team from the Ridge to get past the state quarterfinals in the sport. They beat a team (Farmington) who had beaten them twice previously to get into the finals. The Blackhawks sports programs hopes for a third state title was not to be, but the Diamond 'Hawks did collect the school's fifth state trophy for the school term, with no other class earning more than two in the same year, historically.

The Pea Ridge girls senior athletes set a standard these year than will be tough to follow. With a baseline mantra of "Good to Great," this past year saw the girls sports programs go to "Great to Greater."

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State Championship in Benton

Morrilton 4, Pea Ridge 2

Blakelee Winn 1 hit, 1 RBI

Alevia Reyna 1 hit, 1 run

Callie Cooper 1 hit

Dallice White 1 hit, 1 RBI

Nalea Holliday 1 hit

Ashley Earley 1 hit

Aidan Dayberry pitched complete game allowing two walks, eight hits, striking out three.

Blackhawks finish as State Runner Up with the record of 21 -8, third most wins in school history.

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