LINCOLN -- Gentry freshman starter Kyleigh Wheaton struck out 15 Lincoln batters and broke the ice by driving in a run to break a scoreless tie in the top of the fifth.
Gentry twice loaded the bases only to come away empty in the early innings before breaking through with a 4-run fifth on the way to a 6-0 road win at Lincoln Wednesday, March 6.
No ice remained on the field following snowfall that blanketed northwest Arkansas on March 3, but artic cold remained and the Lady Wolves (0-1) never could heat up their bats.
The third time loading the bases proved charmed for Gentry (3-0).
Wheaton drove in the first Lady Pioneer run. Leading 1-0 with one out senior Harley Stanfield smacked a 3-1 pitch that the Lincoln infield could not handle. Two runs scored as she reached on an error. Up next was junior Avani Edwards who took the first pitch for a strike with a runner at third.
The damage compounded for the Lady Wolves when an errant throw went past third allowing a fourth run to score.
Lincoln starter Paige Umberson struck out Edwards on a called strike three, then fanned Makayla Case swinging at a 1-2 offering drawing praise from Gentry coach Paul Ernst.
"Their pitcher did a great job of keeping us off-balance. I thought she did a good job of moving our eyes, changing a little bit of our tempo. She threw a change-up in there that kind of kept us out in front of some and then we were late when the fastball would come in there," Ernest said. "Our girls, I think, are better hitters than that, but I'm going to give a lot of credit to their pitcher. She really did a great job of changing our tempo."
Wheaton went the distance retiring the Lady Wolves in order in the bottom of the fifth. She needed just seven pitches to strike out the first two batters both on a called strike three. Lincoln lead-off hitter freshman Alex Torres wasn't as easy getting ahead 2-1 in the count before Wheaton induced a foul for strike two then recorded a strike-out when Torres swung and missed.
Meledy Owens began the sixth with a lead-off single into centerfield for the Lady Pioneers. She advanced to second on catcher Taylor Norman's sacrifice bunt and moved to third when Wheaton hit into a fielder's choice. Allee Sweeten drew a walk to place runners at the corners for Mandy Barber, but after reaching a full count, Barber went down swinging for the third out.
Tiana Anderson (1-for-2) led off Lincoln's half of the inning with a walk after taking a called strike, bringing the count to 3-2. Wheaton was on her game throwing three straight strikes to the next batter on a swing, foul and called strike three for out No. 1. She got ahead of the next batter 0-2 then induced a grounder to third which moved Anderson to second.
With two outs and a runner in scoring position, Lincoln junior Kinley Webb battled. She swung at a 2-1 pitch that allowed Anderson to reach third, but hit a line drive right at Gentry's shortstop which ended the threat.
Gentry tacked on a pair of insurance runs with two away in the top of the seventh. Umberson racked up two more strike-outs, catching Liberty Brannon swinging and Randi Jo Bolinger looking on an 0-2 pitch. In between the strike-outs, Stanfield singled into right centerfield and Raegan Jude reached when her hit into the outfield was dropped.
That error and another when Owens sent a shot near the right baseline that wasn't caught, accounted for an unearned run. Gentry's final run came on an RBI single by Norman.
Lincoln had one last chance and got a runner aboard with one out in the bottom of the seventh. Chloe Dawson walked on four straight pitches, but was thrown out on a base-running error trying for third. Wheaton ended the contest with a strike-out.
Lincoln lost to Huntsville, 7-4, on Thursday and 16-2 to Waldron Friday.
Sports on 03/13/2019
Print Headline: Lady Wolves Absorb 6-0 Loss To Gentry