Gravette wouldn't be the first team to fall apart after losing its star player, but the Lady Lions have done just the opposite.
Gravette went to Berryville on Wednesday and defeated the Lady Bobcats 8-1 behind sophomore Bailey Elmore, who threw four shutout innings and hit a home run. The loss dropped Berryville to 17-5 on the season.
"We had a good approach at the plate and pitched really well with Bailey and Lexi Garner," Gravette coach Taos Jones said. "We knew this was going to be a tough game. All our kids showed up and played well."
Gravette (16-5) has played all season without Cally Kildow, a star player who committed to the University of Arkansas as a freshman. Kildow is recovering from a broken leg she suffered during the state basketball tournament and is unlikely to return this season.
Her injury was a huge blow the rest of the team has endured.
"I couldn't be more proud of this team," Jones said. "We've got some seniors who've stepped up and shown leadership but this is a team with a lot of sophomores and juniors who are getting it done."
Gravette beat Gentry 10-2 on Thursday to set up a big non-conference game today against Bentonville West. The Lady Wolverines beat Springdale High 15-0 on Thursday to improve to 18-6 overall and 8-2 in 7A-West Conference play.
"I wanted to challenge our kids when we put this schedule together at the beginning of the season," Jones said. "I didn't want any cupcakes."
Paris will end the week today the same way it started on Monday -- with a game against Cedarville.
Cedarville is still in first in the 3A/4A District 5 standings despite a 5-4 loss to the Lady Eagles on Monday. The Lady Pirates remain one game ahead of Ozark and two games ahead of Paris, which is 17-9 overall and 6-4 in district play.
Closing in on 20 wins is quite an achievement for Paris, which won only six games last season before the arrival of Donald Hart as coach. Hart is doing it with a team with four seniors and only one who is a regular in the lineup.
"About every girl on the team is playing a different position than they played last year," Hart said. "We have two of the best pitchers in the state that gives us a chance in every game. These girls play hard and never give up. Cedarville is tough but we're hoping to finish on a positive note."
Junior Sydney Ward and freshman Jaydn Hart are standout two-way players for the Lady Eagles. Both are pitchers who pile up strikeouts in the circle and the two are also top hitters with batting averages over .500. Ward leads the team with 12 doubles while Hart, the coach's daughter, follows with 11.
"Sydney is a great leader who has already committed to Crowder Community College in Missouri," Hart said. "Jaydn, she's played like an upper classman. She leads us in home runs and batting average."
There were anxious moments for Springdale High in the final inning of its game against Springdale Har-Ber on Tuesday.
Springdale had the lead but the Lady Bulldogs had held leads before in the late stages and lost. This time was different as pitcher Braden Meredith retired the final two batters on groundouts to preserve a 4-3 victory.
It was Springdale's first victory over rival Har-Ber since 2011.
"Braden had a lot of weight on her shoulder and she came through," Springdale coach Ashley Friend said. "She's a four-year letterman and a really good player. They had 13 pop flies, I think, and our fielders did a good job catching the ball. We've had a lot of close games with Har-Ber and it good to see them win one. I knew they could do it. I could see it in their eyes."
Springdale lost badly to Bentonville West on Thursday but still had a good week with wins over Huntsville and Har-Ber.
"Our record is not a reflection of where we should be," Friend said. "We could've turned that around had we finished some games. But we've got a lot of sophomores and juniors and we're going to keep playing to the end."Preps Basketball on 04/20/2018
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