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Prep Softball: Lady Tigers cool Van Buren’s hits

Two tough Har-Ber pitchers and an eight-day layoff were enough to turn the Van Buren batters cold.

Emily Stockalper and Gracie Bogle limited the Pointers to just four hits as the Lady Wildcats scratched home a run in the sixth to capture a 3-2 7A/6A-West road win Friday night.

Bogle pitched the final three innings and did not surrender a hit to get the win for Har-Ber (15-8, 6-4). The Lady Wildcat defense did give the Pointers (17-4, 6-1) a chance to win it in the seventh.

Austyn Deere reached on an errant grounder that the third baseman bobbled. Two outs later, Breanna Vest reached when her two-out shallow fly ball to right was dropped by the Har-Ber second baseman, moving pinch-runner Jessica Smith to third. After Vest stole second, Bogle struckout Ashton Sangster to end the the game.

“I was proud of the way we played, but I told the girls that I would prefer them not to finish the game with that many errors,” Lady Wildcat coach Lynn Lawson said. “You’re playing a team with one of the best records in the conference and you cannot make those mistakes.”

Lawson also praised the work Stockalper and Bogle did on the mound to silence the Van Buren hitters.

“I know how much of a blessing it is to have both of them on the staff, and I don’t think they get enough praise for the work they do,” Lawson said. “They have different spin on the ball. They were team players today.”

Pointer coach Andy Williams said the eight-day layoff due to state-mandated testing and rainouts didn’t help.

“To hit like we have been, you have to play consistently,” Williams said. “To have this type of layoff and then face two of the best pitchers in the conference, it was going to be tough for us on offense. (Coach Lawson) never gave us a good look at either pitcher and they deserve the credit. Still, we had a chance at the end — we just needed one more hit.”

Van Buren did take the early lead on a two-run homer by Tori Stafford in the bottom of the third. Har-Ber, though, would answer in the top of the fourth on a two-run shot by Tulsa signee Morgan Neal.

“They did something good to get momentum, so we needed to answer that because if we didn’t, it would compound,” Lawson said. “The homer mentally got us back into the game. I was proud that we didn’t fold.”

Neal started the winning rally in the sixth with a bunt single and would steal second. A hit by Tiffany Ray moved Neal to third. Ray tried to steal second but was thrown out by Pointer catcher Baylor Miles. Sangster stumbled after making the tag, allowing Neal to score.

Neal and Ray each had two hits to pace Har-Ber.

Stafford got the hard-luck, complete-game loss for Van Buren, allowing just six hits while striking out seven and walking just one.