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Closing the Gap
Closing the Gap
Joshua Harrison
Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Lady Miners came into the NLR Tournament of Champions undefeated and left with two loses, but what they gained was invaluable.  The tournament was made up of 8 of the top teams in the state in the largest four classifications.  For a team that starts 1 junior, 4 sophomores and 4 freshmen, the early season test was welcomed.  The success of the 2014-2015 squad has heaped expectations on this years team but after this weekend, it is apparent that this group of Lady Miner's will not shy away from any competition.  

Friday night they took on 2015 7A Semi-Finalist Rogers.  Sophomore Bailey Buffington started the game and held the Mountaineers in check for much of the game, allowing 3 runs to go along with 7 strikeouts.  Freshmen Destiny McClain blasted an RBI single in the top of the 4th to score junior Alex Henley.  Rogers answered the bottom of the 4th with an RBI single to right.  Freshman Taylor Sledd (2-2) added an RBI double in the top of the 6th but Rogers answered with a 2 out, 2 strike, 2 run walk off home run in the bottom of the 6th to set the final score 3-2. 

On Saturday, Bauxite took on reigning 6A State Champion Greenwood (8-1) at 10:00am.  Buffington once again got the start.  She pitched an almost flawless game giving up 2 run to go along with 7 strikeouts.  The Bulldog pitching staff was very greedy as the Lady Miners could not get much going at the plate.  Bauxite started the scoring when McClain drove a shot off the centerfield fence for a double and was brought in to score after a 2 bagger by junior Sydney Oliver.  Buffington continued to sit down the Lady Bulldogs until the top of the 6th inning.  Greenwood got their leadoff runner on with a base hit.  A couple batters later the momentum shifted away from the Lady Miners on a weak foul ball.  Chasing the bloop foul down the right field line, Freshmen Ashley Redmon dove for the ball and slammed her head against the concrete barrier on the fence line.  She was removed from the game for precautionary measures and 2 pitches later, the Greenwood batter blasted a 2 run home run to left field.  The ladies could not get the momentum back and fell to Greenwood 2-1 in 7 innings.

In the final consolation game, Bauxite was paired against reigning 4A Champion and 7-4A rival Mena.  The Bauxite bats came to life in the 3rd innings against the Lady Bearcats.  They score 5 runs on a hit by pitch, an RBI single by sophomore Daniele Singleton, and a bases clearing double by freshmen phenom Destiny McClain.  That was more then enough support for Bauxite's ace Bailey Buffington who limited Mena's lineup to 1 run on 4 hits with 2 walks over 7 innings.  She also racked up 7 strikeouts for the 3rd straight game.  Mena scratched out a run in the top of the 5th but the Lady Miners answered with 2 runs of their own in the bottom of that frame.  When the dust settled, Bauxite came away a 7-1 victor over Mena.  The Lady Miners dropped all 4 contests to the Lady Bearcats last season.  The victory moved Bauxite's record to 7-2 on the season.  They will now take spring break off and be back on the diamond Monday, March 28 as they take on Heber Springs at Hendrix College in Conway.  They begin 7-4A conference play at Malvern Friday, April 1st.