It’s late in the softball season, and North Little Rock head coach Anthony Cantrell has his team playing in postseason-type competition even when they aren’t playing inside the 7A/6A-East.

"We want to play the type teams we are going to see," Cantrell said. "We are trying to get ourselves prepared for what we are going to see in the state tournament."

Trouble is for the Lady Charging Wildcats is that they haven’t fared well in the win/loss column when playing these types of teams.

That was the case this week when the played the Benton Lady Panthers and fell just short losing 2-1 in eight innings.

"We did a lot of good things right," Cantrell said. "We just didn’t win the game."

Close losses against that type of competition have been the pattern for North Little Rock this season including setbacks to Beebe and Greenbrier before losing to Benton last week.

What are the reasons for such losses?

"Our biggest thing is we have to eliminate base running mistakes," Cantrell said. "Part of that is my fault."

Cantrell said he likes to run aggressively on the base paths.

"If you have to make two or three good throws to get us," Cantrell said, "we are going to run."

Defensive errors have to be pared down as well.

Against Beebe, a pair of first-inning miscues preceded a three-run homerun putting North Little Rock into an immediate hole that they were unable to climb out of.

There are a few silver linings to this small cloud. The Lady Charging Wildcats get one more shot against such competition when they face Lake Hamilton on May 2.

The Lady Wolves are the defending 6A state champions, and this game could serve as a bit of déjà vu.

"They beat us last year about this time," Cantrell said. "They got on a roll after that. Hopefully that can happen for us."

North Little Rock is doing well in league play. They served up another blowout this week beating West Memphis 15-0.

The league schedule is winding down meaning Cantrell’s scheduling strategy could pay off. The Lady Charging Wildcats will either stay true to form, or they can learn from their nonconference experience, and make deep playoff run.