The No. 21 seed Benton Lady Tigers came oh-so-close to pulling off a major upset in the second round of the Class 4A state softball playoffs Friday in Monroe.
Instead, a heartbreaking loss ended Benton’s season.
The Lady Tigers led No. 5 Neville 2-0 going into the bottom of the seventh inning, but Neville — also the Lady Tigers — scored twice to tie it and then pushed across a run in the eighth to win 3-2.
Benton, which loses only one senior, Siara Erickson, finished the season 17-15. Neville (18-8) advances to next week’s state tournament in Sulphur.
Erickson led off Benton’s seventh with a walk. With one out, Abi Cole moved Erickson over with a sacrifice and reached base on an error.
With two outs, Sara Koeppen smacked a double to centerfield, scoring Erickson and Cole.
Neville got within one thanks to two singles and a double and scored the tying run on a sacrifice fly.
Benton got a runner to third with one out in the top of the eighth thanks a walk and an Ashley Hunter single. But two strikeouts ended the inning.
Neville scored the winning run on a single to center field with two outs.
Hunter went 2-for-3 and pitched an outstanding game. She only allowed two earned runs and struck out five. Cole and Makenzie Chaffin also had hits.
NOTE: The above report is based on the box score and play-by-play on Benton’s official GameChanger account.
— Russell Hedges, firstname.lastname@example.org