BENTONVILLE -- North Little Rock used to be the dominant team with three consecutive state championships in Arkansas' largest classification.
That description now clearly applies to Bentonville, which will attempt to win a fourth consecutive state championship after overpowering North Little Rock 20-3 in a Class 6A state softball tournament semifinal Saturday at the Tiger Athletic Complex.
Bentonville will meet Cabot, which defeated Bentonville West 6-3 in the other semifinal, for the state championship next weekend in Fayetteville.
Morgan Nelson, Emily Perry, Megan Crownover and McKenzie Vaughan each slammed home runs for Bentonville, which collected a season-high 21 hits. Perry, Jenna Wildeman and Kenzie Derryberry each had three hits while Perry, Derryberry and Vaughn had four RBI apiece.
The game was quite a contrast from Friday when Bentonville advanced with a 2-1 victory over Conway.
"The kids saw the ball and swung it well," Bentonville Coach Kent Early said. "[Friday] we had a case of hitting the ball right at them and, of course, being in the first round it's always a bit more nerve-wracking. But I have to give credit to the kids. They showed up ready to play."
Bentonville scored six runs in the second inning after Nelson got the Lady Tigers started with a home run in the top of the first. Bentonville had six hits in the second inning, including a home run from Perry and run-scoring doubles by Derryberry and Vaughan.
"[Derryberry] broke it open with a two-run double there in the second inning," Early said. "That really started it for us."
That early production was plenty enough for Cailey Cochran, who allowed single runs in the third, fourth and sixth innings to North Little Rock. Cochran struck out seven after striking out 13 against Conway.
Bentonville (20-7) provided Cochran with plenty of cushion after scoring five runs in the sixth inning and eight more in the seventh. Crownover hit a three-run home run, and Vaughan followed with a solo blast in the sixth to put Bentonville ahead 12-2.
Marrisa Mitchell had an RBI double and single for North Little Rock (19-8).
BENTONVILLE WEST 3
Cabot scored four runs in the fifth inning and held on to beat Bentonville West 6-3.
Cabot (23-5) grabbed a 5-2 lead in the fifth inning. Savannah Snow had a home run, followed by a double from Rylie Hamilton and triple from Riley Waithall that produced runs.
Carlee Durham and Hallie Wacaser each hit triples to pull Bentonville West to within 5-3 in the fifth inning. But Cabot strung together three more hits and added another run in the seventh.
Bentonville West brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the seventh, but Hamilton ended it with a diving catch behind third base.
Cabot outhit Bentonville West 12-10 and neither team made an error. Hamilton had three hits for Cabot while Wacaser had four hits to lead the Lady Wolverines (23-4).
Sports on 05/12/2019