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Monday, May 2, 2016

Lady Rebs defend tourney title

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Just because they were out of time didn't mean they were out of hope.

Locked in a tight battle with the Westside Lady Warriors in the championship game of Rebel Rumble IV at Ash Flat Ball Park, it was do-or-die time for the Highland Lady Rebels.

Trailing Westside 2-1 in the bottom of the sixth inning, and with the one-hour time limit per game already expired, Highland needed a spark ... and a couple of runs, in a bad way.

Then, Jessica Sellers did just what a senior leader is supposed to do.

She delivered that spark, along with a couple of runs, giving Highland a thrilling 3-2 victory over Westside with one mighty swing of the bat.

Sellers hit the ball so hard it could probably be heard all the way to Jonesboro, driving in Stephanie Shaw and Alison Price for the game-winning RBIs.

"Jessica's been playing really well for us. As our catcher she's stepped up and been our leader this year," Lady Rebel Head Coach Rebecca Rider said. "Her batting average coming into the tournament was .550 with 17 RBIS, so she's really staying motivated and being a leader out there, taking charge and she came up big. I'm proud to see that from her."

The Lady Rebels broke open a scoreless game with a run in the bottom of the fourth inning. Shaw swiped home on a passed ball to give Highland a 1-0 lead after four.

But an uncharacteristic Highland fielding error with two down and one on base in the top of the fifth left the door open for Lady Warriors.

And Westside marched right through that door with a hit to left that plated two runs, giving the Lady Warriors a 2-1 lead.

"I just told them to hang in there, that the bats would come around, but to try and clean up the defense," said Rider. "No coach or no team likes to have errors, but they're kids and they're going to make some mistakes. You just have to hope that your bats can overcome that and the team stays up and can get the runs when they need to."

And stay up is just what the Lady Rebs did.

Katheryn Bobo led off the home-half of the sixth with a shot to right field. The ball was bobbled on the relay and Bobo scampered to second on the throwback.

Next up, Shaw moved Bobo to third with an infield hit, giving Highland runners on the corner with no outs.

Price hit a sharp shot to the infield and Bobo tried to come home on the play, but she was tagged out at home.

However, Sellers took care of that by knocking the cover off the ball for a triple, driving in Shaw and Price to wrap up Highland's dramatic comeback and 3-2 victory.

In its fourth year of existence, the Rebel Rumble has had but one champion -- the Highland Lady Rebels.

"It feels great, especially after the two games that we just played ... being down and then battling back to protect our home front," said Rider.

Karisa Hendrix, after a long day in the pitching circle for Highland, earned the win. She fanned 10 while giving up six hits and walking two.

The championship game between Highland and Westside was set up by the Lady Warriors' 6-1 victory over the Lady Rebels in the preceding game, a game that marked the seventh time on the season that the two schools have faced off, all in the space of a couple of weeks.

And according to Rider, there's little you can hide when facing the same team so many times.

"It's tough. They get used to seeing our pitcher and the kids kind of settle in," she said. "Each time you play them, it gets a little bit harder."

Hendrix worked four innings, allowing six hits and no walks while striking out eight in Westside's five-run win. Hailey Hall pitched two innings for Highland, walking two, fanning three and giving up two hits.

Bobo, Lindsey Goodwin and Courtney Sharp all hit safely for the Lady Rebels. Shaw added a triple and Price drove in Highland's lone run of the contest.

Earlier in the tournament, Highland beat ... you guessed it ... Westside, by a count of 2-0.

Sellers smacked a double past short to plate Shaw and Price for the only two runs of the game.

Hendrix struck out nine Westside batters in the game.

Highland also knocked off Heber Springs 1-0, after the Lady Rebs opened title defense of the Rebel Rumble with a 5-0 shutout of the Salem Lady Greyhounds.

In the win over Heber Springs, Hendrix fanned 15 Lady Panthers.

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