JACKSONVILLE — It was a good, sunny day for Vilonia teams here in state tournament play Friday at Dupree Park.
While the weather was sunny, the outcome was dreary for Greenbrier teams.
Vilonia’s boys advanced in 5A state baseball play with a 10-0 romp over Batesville.
Just a couple of hundred yards away, the Vilonia girls advanced in the softball tournament with a 3-1 win over Batesville.
On the diamond next to Vilonia, Greenbrier’s girls, the defending state runner-ups, were eliminated by Greene County Tech, 5-2. A couple of hours later, Nettleton knocked the Greenbrier baseball team out of the tourney with a 4-1 victory that was almost a mirror image of the softball game.
Because of a conflict with Vilonia's 10 a.m. graduation Saturday, the times for the Eagles' baseball and softball games have been changed. The Lady Eagles will play Magnolia at 12:30 p.m. instead of 10. Vilonia will play its baseball quarterfinal against Jacksonville at 5:30 p.m. instead of 10.
The Eagles put the Pioneers away early with an eight-run third inning.
“We just hit the ball well,” said Vilonia coach Brad Wallace. “It’s the first time we’ve given Haydon Weaver (the second of three Vilonia pitchers) bat support. We got a lot of two-out hits today. We have a saying that two-out hits gets you to heaven and that’s what happened today.”
Cameron Wilkins, the starter who threw 2.1 innings, gave way to Weaver after Wallace’s prescribed pitch count. Bradley Taylor took care of the final two innings in the mercy-rule shortened, six-inning game.
“I have a plan in place for our pitchers and it’s not by innings but pitch count,” said Wallace. “With this tournament (possibly playing three games in four days), I want to be careful with our pitching. Actually today, we finished one-under the pitch count I had planned.”
The Lady Eagles also benefitted from the right hits at he right time in the 3-1 win over Batesville.
Leah Thomason shut down the Lady Pioneers on one run for six innings before yielding to Sydney Wader in the seventh.
“We didn’t get many hits but they were timely,” said Vilonia coach Kevin Sullivan, whose team went to 22-6. “We put a lot of pressure on our kids in practice just for that situation. Leah’s stuff was really moving early, then she said she was losing a little of her stuff and that’s why we made the change.”
The Lady Eagles took a 2-0 lead early on a double by Catie Loyd and a triple by Cacy Simpson. They added a run in the fifth on a double by Buggy Lewis and a single by Simpson.
“In a tournament like this, the first hit is always the toughest so it was good for us to get that 2-0 cushion early,” said Sullivan. “Hitting can be contagious.”
The Lady Eagles entered the tourney as a No. 1 seed from 5A West. Batesville was a No. 4 seed.
“This was not your typical 1 vs. 4 matchup,” said Sullivan. “That conference (Batesville’s) is brutal. That was a good team we beat.”
Trailing 1-0 in the sixth on a first-inning home run by Nettleton’s Nick Brown, the Panthers tied the score on a double by Josh Dollarhide and a single by Jacob Byrum. The Raiders responded in the bottom of the sixth, getting to Greenbrier freshman starter Hunter Milligan, who handcuffed them most of the way, with three runs on two hits, a hit batsman and an error. Dayton Miller had a single and Brown an RBI double.
Nettleton’s Mason Gibson kept the Panthers off balance in the complete-game victory.
Greenbrier, however, hurt itself on the basepaths. The Panthers had a runner picked off first and lost two possible runs when two runners were tagged out in rundowns in two different innings — one after a missed squeeze bunt and another who was caught between third and home after a relay.
Greene County Tech broke away from a 2-2 tie with two runs in the sixth an another in the seventh.
The Lady Panthers had only three hits, two of them by University of Arkansas recruit Autumn Russell, who scored both runs.