Lady Panthers claim tournament championship

From Staff Reports

Mar. 15, 2007 - BIRTHRIGHT - The North Hopkins Lady Panthers went undefeated in the 8th Annual Ashdown (Ark.) Panther Invitational softball tournament last weekend.

"I feel like we are good this year. We had never won a tournament before in the history of the school since I have been there in the past 10-to-12 years," said NHHS coach Jim Westbrook. "This team gave us our own identity."

In the championship game, senior KayLee Cotten threw a perfect game for the Lady Panthers in a 7-0 victory.

"In the final game against a pretty good Fouke team, KayLee pitched a perfect game with 16 strikeouts of the 21 outs," Westbrook said. "I would like to give our catcher Jessica Harry a lot of credit because there were some nasty strikes that she had to hold on to and played really well. She has been getting really good all year."

Championship Game

North Hopkins 7, Fouke, Ark. 0

North Hopkins (6-6) opened up their scoring in the first inning as Cayla Newkirk reached with a walk. With two outs, NH put together a rally as Holli Argenbright and Courtney Loper both singled to load the bases. Jessica Harry then walked to score Newkirk for the 1-0 lead.

With North Hopkins up 2-0 heading into the sixth inning, the Lady Panthers put up five runs on six hits to put the game out of reach.

Smiddy opened the inning with a double, followed by singles from Argenbright, Loper and Harry as Smiddy scored on Argenbright's single. With one out in the inning, Hood then smacked a bases-clearing triple for a 6-0. Cotten then drove in Hood for the 7-0 finale.

Argenbright and Loper went 2-for-3 for the Lady Panthers, while Cotten, Newkirk, Smiddy, Harry and Hood each recorded a hit.

Game 2

North Hopkins 10, Bradley, Ark. 1

In the second game of the tournament, the Lady Panthers once again jumped out to a first-inning lead as Cotten led off the game with a double and Newkirk walked.

With one out, Argenbright then cleared the bases with a double and came home on Argenbright's single for the 3-0 lead.

In the second, the Lady Panthers extended their lead to 5-0 as Cotten singled with one out and Newkirk walked. Smiddy and Argenbright followed with RBI singles.

The Lady Panthers scored five more runs in the third inning as Harry and Ashley Deaton opened the inning with singles. Cotten drove them both in with a single, and following walk to Newkirk, Smiddy cleared the bases with a double. Argenbright drove in Smiddy for the 10-0 lead.

Cotten pitched three innings for the Lady Panthers and gave up no runs on one hit with two walks and six strikeouts. Smiddy gave up one run on two hits with three strikeouts and one walk in two innings of relief.

Argenbright went 3-for-3 with a run scored, Cotten went 3-for-3 with three runs scored, while Harry and Smiddy each went 2-for-3 with a run scored.

Game 1

North Hopkins 11, Van Cove 0

In the opening game of the tournament, the Lady Panthers run-ruled Van Cove behind strong pitching from Cotten and Smiddy.

The duo combined on a one-hitter with 13 strikeouts and one walk.

"We didn't know anyone at this tournament and they didn't know us," Westbrook said. "We had superior pitching during the tournament. KayLee really impressed the plate umpire in the first game and the girls could not catch up to KayLee's rise ball, change-up and fast ball."

In the first inning, NH once again jumped out to the early lead as Cotten opened with a single and scored on Argenbright's double for a 1-0 lead.

In the third inning, the Lady Panthers scored nine runs and had 13 batters up in the inning.

Cotten and Newkirk had two hits and scored twice, while Harry, Deaton, and Newman singled in the inning and scored. Loper had a double and scored in the third.

In the fifth, the Lady Panthers added one more run as Newkirk scored on an error.

Cotten end the game 3-for-4 with three runs scored, while Newkirk, Argenbright and Deaton each had two hits.

Notes: The Lady Panthers will be going after their second tournament title this week when they play in Martins Mill. They open the tourney against Rains. "We just beat them 2-1 last Tuesday," Westbrook said, "and if we can get by them, then I think we have a chance to win it with our pitching."

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