ROGERS — For the second straight season, the Van Buren Lady Pointers were denied a trip to the 7A softball championship game.
Cabot pitcher Kaitlyn Felder held the Lady Pointers to two hits, and her teammate Rachel Allgood opened the scoring with a solo home run in the second as Cabot went on to a 4-0 win in Saturday’s 7A semifinal round.
"We had a couple of shots to score but we couldn’t get that clutch hit," Van Buren coach Andy Williams said. "(Felder) was good."
Van Buren (24-5) got to the semifinals with wins against Southside and Bentonville. But against Cabot, the Lady Pointers weren’t able to get the big hit when they needed it.
After being retired in order in the top of the first, Van Buren’s Tori Stafford drew a one-out walk in the second before Felder got the next two hitters. Van Buren also got the lead-off hitters on base in the third and fourth innings but couldn’t bring them home.
Then with two outs in the top of the fifth, with Cabot up by four and Felder working on a no-hitter, Caroline Davis broke it up with a bunt single. The next batter, Breanna Vest, singled to right. Ashton Sangster came up and hit a line drive, which landed right in the glove of Cabot third baseman Macee Abbott for the third and final out.
"It was right in front of (Abbott’s) nose," Williams said. "If it went three feet to the left or to the right, it goes down the line and into the corner for either a double or a triple and we score at least one, maybe two and cut a 4-0 lead to 4-2, and we would have had the three, four and five (batters in the order) coming up and started to feel good about it. But that’s why they play the games.
"(At last season’s semifinals) maybe we were a little overwhelmed last year and we got there and we got run-ruled. This year, we played seven innings and lost 4-0 but had a chance to score and cut it to 4-2 and maybe felt good about it and got a chance to maybe put a little more pressure on them. … We came closer, so hopefully, we’ll have another shot at it next year and maybe try to make the most of it."
The fifth inning would be Van Buren’s last good scoring opportunity, as Felder retired the side in order in the sixth and seventh innings to finish off the shutout. Felder walked two batters and struck out nine.
She got all the run support she needed in the bottom of the second. With one out, Allgood lined a shot over the wall in right field, giving the Lady Panthers a 1-0 lead.
Cabot then took advantage of an error to lead off the third, scoring twice. Megan Goodnight, who went 2-for-3, hit an RBI single to center; then with two outs, Erin Eckert drove a single into center, bringing home another Lady Panther run.
The Lady Panthers tacked on their final run in the fourth, on an RBI double to right center off the bat of Heather Hill.
Cabot moves on to next week’s 7A State Championship Game, where the Lady Panthers take on North Little Rock, which beat Bryant in the other semifinal on Saturday.
Van Buren will graduate three seniors off its roster, including Stafford, who signed to play at the University of Tulsa. The Lady Pointers return six starters for next season.