Ben­ton staves off Vilo­nia

The Saline Courier Weekend - - SPORTS - By Josh Briggs

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.”

GREG DAVIS/Spe­cial to The Sa­line Courier

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.

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