For the second year in a row, the North Little Rock Charging Wildcats secured a 20-win season. Once again, though, they couldn’t capture a victory in the 7A state tournament.
After receiving a bye to the second round of the 7A state tournament in Bentonville, the Wildcats (20-9) jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning against Springdale Har-Ber last Friday. Har-Ber scored three runs in the fifth to go along with one in the third and sixth and squeaked out a 5-3 victory.
“It was one of those days,” North Little Rock Coach Brock Moore said. “We jumped out on them early, but then couldn’t get anything going. Har-Ber played well.”
While North Little Rock received a bye, Har-Ber defeated Fort Smith Southside, 10-7, in the first round. After an 8-1 victory over Fayetteville in the semifinals, Har-Ber is playing Cabot for the title Friday.
“It’s good to have the bye for pitching purposes,” Moore said. “But if a team has played and gets momentum and gets hot, that is a big deal. They had a good pitcher, and he settled in and figured us out.”
North Little Rock scored its three runs in the first on Owen Stuckey’s RBI-single and Reed Shepherd’s two-RBI double. The Wildcats totaled six hits with three of those occurring in the first inning. No player had more than one hit.
“We had high hopes, but you have to get the breaks and get lucky,” Moore said. “We didn’t get lucky or get the breaks. We had very, very high hopes and had a good shot at it. I just hate the way it ended the way it did.”
The Wildcats lose 10 seniors who won 45 games in the past two seasons. Of those 10, seven were everyday starters. What makes this group unique is as sophomores they comprised the majority of the starting lineup.
“It’s hard for me to say goodbye,” Moore said. “So many things we can attribute to our program is because of them.”