NASHVILLE – The last time Bauxite played a softball state tournament game at Nashville's City Park, it ended up winning its first-ever championship a week later.
The Lady Miners took the first step in duplicating that title run by holding off Southside Batesville 5-3 in the first round of the Class 4A state tournament Thursday.
Haley Howard and Kaci West had two hits apiece for Bauxite (26-5), which won its title in 2018. The Lady Miners are hoping for a similar finish, but Southside Batesville (21-8) made it tough on them in front of a large crowd.
Bauxite scored twice on three hits in the first inning, with Howard delivering a two-run double that scored Kady Beth Jacks and Emma King. The Lady Miners, who also got sturdy pitching from Carley Clark and M.J. Bermingham, pushed their lead to 4-0 in the fourth after Lexi Childress drove in Howard with a single. Childress would later score on a sacrifice bunt by Skylar Hoyt.
But the Lady Southerners answered in the fifth when Camry Sutton's hard-hit single sent Krislynn Duncan sprinting home. Southside Batesville would climb within 4-3 in the sixth on RBI hit by Grace Lawellin and Lexie Dale. It had a chance to tie it, but Bermingham, who came on in relief after Lawellin's hit, struck out Chaney McCance to end the rally.
Bermingham would then give the Lady Miners a bit of breathing room in the bottom half of the inning with an RBI single that scored Howard. The freshman pitcher then retired three consecutive hitters in the seventh to send Bauxite into the next round.
Sutton had two hits to lead the Lady Southerners.
GRAVETTE 12, HAMBURG 0
Brynn Romine, Brook Handle and Meghand Woodmancy all had two hits for Gravette (22-7), which opened up a 7-0 lead before cruising.
Handle also gave up just 2 hits while striking out 6 and walking 1 for the Lady Lions. Gravette will face top-seeded Stuttgart in the second round.
Jackson Morgan and Rayleigh Montgomery had hits for Hamburg (12-9).
MORRILTON 6, JONESBORO WESTSIDE 4
Morrilton (20-8) scored three runs in the seventh inning to cap its comeback win.
Cheyanne Kemp had two of the Lady Devil Dogs' five hits in the game. The defending state champions trailed 4-0 in the first until trimming their deficit to one after scoring three runs in the fifth.
Jada Diaz had two hits for Westside (19-9).