Bastrop 14, Benton 4
Freshman pitcher Kenyshae Beasley went 3-for-3 and scored three runs and Chelsea Fagan blasted a three-run home run as Bastrop charged to a convincing 14-4 victory over Benton, Monday afternoon in the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs.
It was the Lady Rams' first postseason victory since defeating Parkway 11-3 in the first round of the 2008 playoffs and their first playoff appearance since a 2-1 opening round loss to Leesville in 2009.
Bastrop (13-10), the No. 14 seed, advances to play District 2-4A co-champion and No. 3 seed West Ouachita (19-6) in the second round on Wednesday at 6 p.m. in Cadeville. The Lady Chiefs demolished Franklin Parish, another 2-4A rival, 16-0 in three innings on Tuesday.
Benton went up 2-0 with single markers in the top of the first and second, before the Lady Rams seized control of the game with 10 unanswered runs in the third and fourth.
“We played good defense and our bats came alive today,” Bastrop coach Todd Briley said. “They tried to small-ball us and we small-balled them. When our hitters came up, they drove in runs. We didn't leave many on base.”
Chelsea Rogers drew a leadoff walk, stole second and third and scored on Gabby Kespelher's one-out bunt single to give the Lady Tigers a quick 1-0 lead.
Bastrop wasted Kenyshae Beasley's leadoff bunt single and Fagan's two-out single in the home half of the first.
Samantha Maranto slapped an opposite-field single to right to open the Benton second, swiped second and scored on a throwing error, doubling the Lady Tigers' margin to 2-0.
“They were fast when they got on base,” Briley said.
Kespelher, the Benton starter, worked a 1-2-3 second, before Beasley pitched around Brittany Craig's leadoff single and a two-out walk to Taylor Thompson in the third.
“Kenyshae did what she's done all year — throw ground balls,” Briley said.
Indeed she did. Nine of Benton's 15 outs were groundouts.
Bastrop got untracked offensively for four in the bottom of the third.
Bastrop grabbed the lead without hitting the ball out of the infield. Caitlyn Blakely and Beasley drew consecutive walks to start the outburst. Called upon to bunt, Megan Crymes pulled into second on a throwing error, closing the gap to 2-1. Beasley scored the tying run on a wild pitch and Crymes dashed home all the way from second when the throw back to the plate sailed past Benton reliever Chelsea Rangel.
With the bases clear and nobody out, Coleman doubled to right field and crossed home on Dee McDaniel's one-out double.
Bastrop flashed the leather in the top of the third to protect a 4-2 lead.
Alyssa Malone tripled just beyond the reach of a diving Blakely in right field with one away. Fielding Hailee Smith's bunt, Beasley flipped to catcher Ashley George to deny Malone at the plate. Continuing to second, Smith collided with Bastrop shortstop Coleman, who took George's throw to the right side of the bag. Coleman dropped the ball on impact, but was able to retrieve it in time to tag Smith out for an inning-ending double play.
Keeping the pressure on, the Lady Rams erupted for six in the bottom of the fourth.
Delaney Mayo worked a leadoff walk, but was forced at second on Blakely's bunt.
Back to the top of the batting order, Beasley bunted her way aboard for the second time. Crymes then delivered an RBI single to left and Coleman scorched a two-run single to left, expanding the Lady Rams' lead to 7-3.
After Coleman took third on a wayward throw, Fagan walked and moved to second uncontested.
One out later, George dropped a two-run single into center field and scored on Amanda Patrick's double to right-center.
“Our bats were just too much for them,” Briley said. “Once we got the 10-2 lead, it kind of took them out of their gameplan. Everybody hit the ball today. We haven't hit the ball that well up and down the lineup since the Mangham game (March 5).
Benton closed the deficit to 10-4 with two in the fifth.
Brittany Craig singled with one out and circled the bases on Kespelher's double to deep left. Next up, cleanup batter Savannah Collo was safe on a two-base throwing error.
Bastrop sealed the verdict with four in the fifth.
Infield singles by Beasley and Crymes set the table for Fagan's three-run bomb over the left field fence.
With two away, George reached on a fielding error, Patrick walked, Mayo was hit by a pitch and Blakely walked to put the 10-run rule into effect.
Beasley struck out two, walked two and hit one for the win.
Bastrop out-hit the Lady Tigers 12-6. Beasley collected three singles, Fagan launched her team-leading seventh home run and a single, Coleman crashed a pair of doubles, Crymes furnished two singles and scored three runs, McDaniel and Patrick doubled and George singled.
Kespelher drove in two runs with a double and a single for Benton, Craig went 2-for-3, Malone tripled and Maranto singled.
Notes: Bastrop's 1-4 batters (Beasley, Crymes, Coleman and Fagan) were a combined 9-for-14 with six RBI and 10 runs scored. … Former Lady Rams' coach Mike Sistrunk, who is recovering from heart surgery, attended Monday's game.