Vying for their fifth consecutive trip to the 7A championship game, the North Little Rock Lady Charging Wildcats begin that quest at 12:30 p.m. today against Springdale Har-Ber in Fayetteville.
Last year, the Lady Wildcats (18-6) advanced to the title game and lost to Bentonville. Prior to that, they had won three consecutive titles. The North Little Rock seniors have experience on their side as they have played in the state championship since their freshmen years.
“I know the seniors are hungry,” North Little Rock Coach Jason Houle said. “They have played every year they were freshmen and know they can do it.”
Houle is hoping what happened last season occurs this year in the state tournament. The Lady Wildcats’ bats got hot which carried them to the championship.
“We’ve been playing solid, we just need to be aggressive at the plate,” he said. “If we don’t let good pitches go by and don’t swing at bad ones, we’ll be O.K. We’ve got to swing the bats and score some runs”
North Little Rock finished 7A-Central competition with a 9-1 victory at Cabot last Friday. On Monday, they hosted Benton and lost, 1-0. The Lady Wildcats tallied our runs in the top of the second and three in the third and led 9-0 before the Lady Panthers notched a run in the bottom of the seventh.
Pounding out 12 hits, the Lady Wildcats also took advantage of five Cabot errors. Marissa Mitchell paced North Little Rock with three hits which included a double. Cassidy Tucker led a trio of players who recorded two hits with a home run. Reagan Sperling and Lily Douglass, who also picked up the pitching victory, also had two hits.
“We hit the ball well and were aggressive at the plate,” Houle said. “Lily pitched great, and we didn’t let up.”
Against Benton, the Lady Wildcats gave up the run in the top of the first on an error. Both teams were sloppy as North Little Rock committed four errors and Benton was guilty of three miscues. The Lady Wildcats only had two hits with Mitchell and Anna Beaver smacking doubles.
“I always like to play them before state,” Houle said. “It felt different before that game. Against Cabot, we were more focused, and I told the girls we can’t do that or we’ll be done.”
If North Little Rock wins Thursday, they’ll face Rogers, who received a bye, at 2:30 p.m. Friday. Times could be adjusted depending on the weather, and Thursday’s times have already been adjusted because of the potential of rain later in the day.