The Sylvan Hills Bears are coming out of spring break this weekend facing some very stiff competition.
Their participation in the Central Arkansas Invitational seats them in a bracket with the likes of the North Little Rock Charging Wildcats, Springdale Har-Ber Wildcats and the Benton Panthers as well as the Pulaski Academy Bruins.
North Little Rock and Har-Ber are ranked No. 1 and 2 respectively in 7A while Benton is considered the top team in 6A. PA isn’t shabby either.
"It’s going to be a tough weekend," head coach Denny Tipton said. "We have strived to play some good competition."
This weekend’s slate certainly qualifies as good competition, but it’s not something that the Bears aren’t used to.
The Bears entered spring break with a 4-2 win over a Little Rock Central Tigers’ team that had won eight of their previous nine.
"We were able to jump out to an early lead," Tipton said, "and hang on.’
Hang on indeed. The Bears scored two runs in the first and appeared to cruise. But the Tigers roared back to tie the game at two in the top of the sixth. Sylvan Hills answered with another pair of runs in their bottom half of the sixth.
T.J. Burrow shut the door in the seventh after the Bears answered Central’s game tying runs.
Connor Poteet started the game on the mound and put in five solid innings.
Good pitching and defense is what has gotten the Bears through so far in the young season, and this weekend will likely have to be the case again.
"We are looking forward to the challenge," Tipton said. "I think we will show up and give them a good game. We need to play good defense, throw strikes and have good at-bats."
The Bears will get four games and will start J.D. Miller in game one.
Tipton said his club would likely see the other team’s best pitcher.
"There’s no conference this week, so it’s likely we’ll see their No. 1," Tipton said.
Conference play resumes next week.