After dropping two of the three regular season games they played against Izard County, Melbourne responded by topping the Lady Cougars for the district tournament title less than two weeks ago, locking the series at two games apiece between these county rivals.
Then, with the 1A Region 2 Tournament title on the line May 6 in Brockwell, the Lady Bearkatz tipped the scales in their favor with a 2-0 shutout of the homestanding Lady Cougars. The victory was Melbourne's (16-6) seventh straight.
The two squads met last year in the Class 1A State Tournament semi-final round, with Melbourne edging past Izard County by a single run.
Olivia Morris and Maggie Cooper once again teamed up to throw a beautiful game, as the duo gave up just two hits, while striking out three and walking none. Morris worked the first three frames before giving way to Cooper, who threw the final four innings. Cooper retired 12 of the 13 Izard County hitters she faced in the game.
Izard County (26-10) fireballer Sarah Taylor took the loss, despite giving up just four hits while fanning a pair.
Melbourne did all its damage in the first two innings, plating the only runs of the day.
Maggie Cooper led off the bottom of the first with a single for Melbourne and then scored the Lady Katz' first run of the game when she came home on a misplayed fielder's choice off the bat of Amanda Treat, the first of two Izard County errors in the first inning.
Morris led off the home half of the second with the first of her two hits in the game and after a popout, Tass Gillihan moved Morris to second with a sacrifice bunt. Abbi Miller then brought Morris in to score with a hit to right, giving the Lady Bearkatz a 2-0 lead.
The Lady Cougars only placed two runners on base all game long, the first coming in the first inning as Trace Grinnell smacked a double down the line in third with one down in the frame. She moved to third on a fielder's choice from Lane Norvold, but was stranded there as a groundout ended the inning.
Norvold got on board with an infield hit in the top of the fourth and made it to second on a fielder's choice off the bat of Jenna Irgens, but she too, was left stranded on the basepaths.
Megan Whitehurst hit safely for Melbourne in the game.
Morris, Maggie Cooper, Whitehurst, Abby Cooper and Whitney Wammack were named to the All-Regional Tournament team for Melbourne.
Taylor, Grinnell and Haley Crotts made the All-Regional team for Izard County.
In the semis May 5, Izard County topped Viola 7-1.
Taylor earned the win, fanning 11 while tossing a one-hitter in the game.
The Lady Cougars moved in front 4-0 in the first and managed to stay ahead of the Lady Horns.
Alex Kurtzweil had three hits for Izard County, while Grinnell added two triples and Jenna Irgens drove in three runs.
Chasidy Hutson scored Viola's lone run of the game in the fifth inning.
Dedra Johnston and Leslie Barker were named All-Regional for Viola.
Melbourne advanced to the finals with a 5-3 win over Calico Rock May 5.
Maggie Cooper was the winning pitcher, racking up nine Ks, while allowing three hits and a pair of free passes.
Whitney Wammack had two hits and an RBI for Melbourne, with Morris adding a pair of ribbies for the Lady Katz.
Miranda Jones and Brittany Fountain each drove in a run for the Lady Pirates, with Jones slamming a triple in the game.
Jones played her way onto the All-Regional squad for Calico Rock.