Booneville softball coach Doc Crowley warned his team before Saturday’s 4-4A semifinal game against Waldron that the Lady Bulldogs, and indeed any team that faced the Lady Cats, would elevate their game and they had to be ready to do the same.
Waldron certainly gave Booneville their best shot as they came back from 2-2 down and pulled within 6-4 with runners on second and third and one out in the top of the seventh. Ashdon Ross saved the Lady Cats from a tie, not with her pitching but with her glove. She speared Madison Aynes’ line drive up the middle and doubled the runner off third to preserve a Booneville win.
Booneville faced Mena, a 13-0 winner over Pottsville in the late game Saturday, in the district championship game Monday. They also move on to regionals, also at Mena. They will play at 3:00 on Friday if they win the district tournament, or at 12:30 if they are runner-up, against the third or fourth-place team from 1-4A, either Prairie Grove or Pea Ridge. A win in that game sends Booneville to the state tournament in Monticello next week.
Lady Cats 6 Waldron 4
The first threat came in the second inning when Kaitlynn Davis led off with a single and went to third on Carley Wooldridge’s double which hit the left-center field fence on the fly. But the Lady Cats could not push the run across and had to wait until the third frame to take the lead. Ashdon Ross led off that inning with a two-bagger and scored on a Morgan Osborne single, which then skittered through the right fielder’s legs enabling Osborne to reach third. Osborne would score when the right fielder dropped Davis’s fly ball.
Waldron tied it in the top of the fifth as Brianna Allen and Courtney Rundell hit back-to-back singles to lead off the inning. Ross struck out the next two batters, but Emily Richmond smacked a triple off the fence in left to score both runners. The Booneville pitcher averted further damage by striking out Nikki Harrison.
BHS regained the lead in the bottom of the fifth inning. Ross led off with a single, stole second and went to third on a wild pitch. Osborne then laid down a perfect safety squeeze bunt on which the Lady Bulldogs could retire neither runner. Osborne swiped second and scored on Hannah McClung’s base hit; the Booneville catcher would come around on an error by the WHS third baseman on a ball hit by Davis. Wooldridge followed with a single and Davis scored while Alyssa Adair, running for Wooldridge, was thrown out stealing.
The Lady Bulldogs were not done, though. Madison Aynes led off the sixth with a walk, then Tori Wadkins doubled and Brianna Allen and Rundell both picked up RBIs with singles. Allen tried to score on a ground ball but Davis gunned her down easily. The Lady Bulldogs mounted a serious threat in the top of the seventh when Richmond belted her second triple of the game and Ross issued a walk to Harrison. She moved up on a sacrifice, with Richmond holding at third, and then Aynes ripped a wicked line drive back up the middle. Ross’s reflexes came into play as she snatched the shot out of the air and threw out Richmond, who had broken from third, to end the game.
Ross was 3-for-4 at the plate with two doubles and two runs scored while striking out eight Lady Bulldogs. Osborne had two hits and two runs scored, and Wooldridge also grabbed a pair of hits. Waldron actually outhit Booneville 10-9 but was victimized by five errors while the Lady Cats played errorless ball.