Benton staves off Vilonia
BENTON — The Benton Lady Panthers, again, have a chance to play a Bogle Park in Fayetteville after earning a 5A State Semifinals berth Friday, defeating Vilonia
8-6 at the Benton Athletic Complex.
“Vilonia didn’t have anything to lose coming in as the fourth seed,” said Head Coach Heidi Cox. “They took down the 1 seed (White Hall) and battled against the 2 seed (Benton). They are known for that and the intensity they play with. The heart and grit they play with. They are not going to stop and they always swing the bat very well. Overall, I am so excited for every one of our kids. It was fantastic.”
Benton fell behind 1-0 in the top of the first, but answered with a pair of runs in the home half of the inning, using a 2-RBI single from Riley Gilmore to lead 2-1 after one.
Neither team would score again until the bottom of the fourth when Benton’s Aubrey Goodnight doubled home Shelby Samples for the 3-1 advantage.
Two hitters later and Goodnight would cross the dish via error for a 4-1 Benton lead.
Vilonia, known for never backing down, cut the lead to 4-2 with a solo home run off the bat of leadoff hitter Julie Johnson in the top of the fifth.
But Benton was far from finished, tacking on four more runs in the bottom of the fifth.
However, Vilonia would match the Lady Panthers with a 4-spot of its own in the sixth, taking advantage of an error and a miscue at first base to cut the lead to 8-6 — the eventual final score.
Tuesday Melton, this week’s Saline Courier Athlete of the Week, worked a complete game, allowing six total runs (3 unearned) on seven hits. She also struck out seven and walked one in the win.
“She got a little fired up after that sixth inning,” Cox said. “I like that. I told her that. Then she gets a big sacrifice fly that we needed. She is such a team player and always wanting to do whatever will help the team win.”
At the plate, Arys Hart led with three hits, followed by Gilmore, Goodnight and Cortney Wilcox all with a pair of knocks in the win.
Benton know will take on Greenwood in the semifinals today at 2:30 p.m. at the Benton Athletic Complex.
“We have gotten over the hump and these girls can kind of taste the semifinals and know we are that close (to the finals),” Cox added. “It is exciting.”
Benton freshman Aubree Goodnight slides in for a run in an 8-6 win over the Vilonia Lady Eagles Friday in the quarterfinals of the 5A State Tournament in Benton.