HARRISON — The Lady Leopards’ quest to repeat as class 5A softball champions ended in the semifinals of the state tournament at Harrison May 12 when De Queen fell to Farmington 8-3.
De Queen head coach Tracy Nealy knew returning to the finals of the class 5A softball tournament was a long shot. With a half dozen new faces in the line-up the Lady Leopards still managed to make it to the semifinals.
“I’m proud of these kids,” he said. “We played hard. Three days in a row, we faced really good teams.”
De Queen faced three teams that are traditionally strong year in, year out.
The Lady Leopards defeated Vilonia and Valley View before losing to Farmington.
One of the mysteries of the 5A state bracket is how De Queen faces Vilonia every year. “That’s what I’d like to know,” Nealy said. It was a typically tight DHS - VHS game until three runs in the sixth gave De Queen a 5-1 lead in the game and sent the Lady Leopards to the second round against Valley View.
This one was also close until the sixth. “Valley View is a good team. They have an outstanding pitcher,” Nealy noted. A three run homer by Tatyana Tramble broke a 1-1 tie for a 4-1 win.
In the semis De Queen got three quick runs against Farmington, but then failed to score again. “She is definitely good,” Nealy said of Farmington’s pitching.
The coach pointed out that compared to last year’s state champions, this is a very young and inexperienced team.
“We had to replace six starters and we got back to the semifinals. We won 25 games and went undefeated in district,” he said. “That’s a pretty good year.”
DHS - Farmington
All De Queen’s scoring came in the bottom of the first inning after Farmington got a run in the top of the frame. Jessica Willams walked. Kinlee Runnels was safe when her grounder to short was mishandled. Madison Runnels homered on a fly to left field to put the Lady Leopards up 3-1.
After the first inning Farmington pitcher Paige Devecsy held De Queen to singles by Tatyanna Tramble, Avery Johnson, Reisa Bakenhus and Williams.
Farmington cut the gap to 3-2 with a run in the second, then took the lead with three in the fourth. The Cards added one in the fifth and two in the seventh.
The Farmington offense was led by Madison Parrish, who doubled, and Carley Antwine and Kally Stout who homered.
DHS - Valley View
De Queen got to the semis with a 4-1 decision over Valley View.
It was a defensive struggle. The first four innings were scoreless. In the top of the fifth Sheridan Smith singled to center to bring in Abigail Pittman for a 1-0 Valley View lead.
In the bottom of the sixth Lexi Taylor was safe on an error. With one out Jessica Williams walked. Madison Runnels sent a grounder through the right side of the defense for an RBI single. Tatyana Tramble followed with a home run to left to make it 4-1 De Queen.
Tramble, who also doubled, had two of the Lady Leopards’ four hits.
Taylor gave up seven hits and one walk with five K in seven innings of pitching.
DHS - Vilonia
It wouldn’t be a state tournament without the Lady Leopards playing Vilonia. This year the two teams met in the opening round with De Queen coming out on top 5-1.
VHS took the lead with a run in the top of the third inning. In the De Queen half Lexi Taylor singled. Jessica Williams walked, then Reisa Bakenhus singled on a fly ball to right to load the bases.
Kinlee Runnels walked to drive in Taylor. Madison Runnels brought in Williams with a ground out to first base.
The score was unchanged until the bottom of the sixth. Tatyana Tramble reached base on a walk. With two out Reagan Batty tripled to right to score Tramble. Taylor doubled to left to score Batty. Taylor scored when Williams’ pop fly was dropped.
De Queen had six hits in the game, three by Bakenhus and two by Taylor and Batty’s triple.
Taylor struck out nine, walked three and gave up three hits and no earned runs.