Monday the Maumelle Hornets accomplished their season goal.
A 7-4 victory over Dardanelle in the 4A-4 District tournament guaranteed them a spot in the regional tournament. The Hornets (15-9) run-ruled Subiaco, 13-2, last Friday before the tournament was pushed back because of rain Saturday. After yesterday’s win over Dardanelle, Maumelle lost to Booneville, 10-7, and will be the third seed in the regional tournament.
"Qualifying for the regional was a big weight lifted," Maumelle Coach Barrett Davis said. "There has been major improvement since a month ago, and we have done better than last year."
In the Subiaco contest, Davis couldn’t help but notice the play of freshman centerfielder Ryan Hunter. His three-run triple sealed the run-rule for the Hornets, and he also added a two-RBI double in his 3-of-4 performance.
"He was playing JV but because of an injury started playing centerfield two to three weeks ago," Davis said. "He’s batting .500 and leading off like a senior would. All of a sudden, a goofy ninth-grader is leading the team."
In the Booneville contest, Maumelle spotted the Bearcats a 10-1 lead before making a comeback. The Hornets scored six runs in the fifth, and with no outs had a chance for more but a base running mistake led to two outs. That game was the first for the Bearcats in the tournament, and they were able to use their number one pitcher.
"I told the guys we needed to play loose because we had accomplished our goal," Davis said. "If we won great, if not we didn’t have to come back on Tuesday. I would have loved to play for the conference championship, but we would have run out of pitching. It’s not the only thing that is important."
Speaking of pitching, Davis knows his top four guys can give his the Hornets a chance to win. Jacob Hollingsworth, Taylor Kirby, Adam Bahloul and Trey Kohn all can hold their own on the mound.
"If our defense sets up the right way, we can play with anybody," Davis said. "Hollingsworth has over 80 strikeouts in 60 innings and is one of the best in the area."
For sure, the Hornets play at noon Friday in Farmington. At press time, the opponent was yet to be determined. It doesn’t matter to Davis because he loves this time of the year and hopes his players get a taste of the excitement.
"It’s one game and win or go home," Davis said. "I like the pressure and think the guys do, too. This is the time of the year where you can’t get down on yourself and just have to go and play."