The state’s No. 1-ranked Class B baseball team, Choudrant’s Aggies, extended its school record for consecutive wins Thursday as the red-hot Ruston hardballers swept a doubleheader from Pineville and the RHS track and field program left coach Allen Whitaker smiling following the last tuneup before the District 2-5A championships next week.
RUSTON BASEBALL: While it pales into comparison to Choudrant’s 22-game streak, eight wins in a row is pretty salty in its own right. The Bearcats (21-8) made it eight straight as they took two from district rival Pineville, 11-2 and 2-0, at the Ruston Sports Complex in a hurriedly-developed doubleheader to avoid today’s anticipated wet weather.
Powerful pitching paved the way. J.R. Tollett fanned 13, walked none and twirled a three-hitter in the opener. Isaac White’s second-game shutout was also a three-hitter with six strikeouts and only one walk.
Ruston rolled to a 7-0 lead after its first three at-bats, playing as the visiting team, in game one. The Rebels answered with a pair, both unearned, in the third but couldn’t solve Tollett, who threw 72 of 90 pitches for strikes.
White provided three RBI as he, Dalton Herbert, Jacob Martin, Dawson Willis and Haydn Shoemaker each had two of the winners’ 12 hits.
In the nightcap, Cade Patterson got the Bearcats on the board with a base rap in the third. A two-out RBI single in the sixth from Tollett doubled the advantage.
Ruston survived two errors in the final fame. With the tying run at second, White got a grounder to Tollett at third for the final out.
CHOUDRANT BASEBALL: Nobody on the Aggies’ team was born when the 2002 state champions rolled up 20 straight wins. This Choudrant team broke the school standard Tuesday at Weston in a 7-1 win, then extended it with a 10-0 homefield romp over the Wolves Thursday.
The Aggies (25-3) got a two-hit complete game (five innings) by Brandon Carter, who struck out 10 as he threw 51 strikes in his 74 pitches. Eli Watson’s three RBI topped Choudrant, which hasn’t lost since March 6, stacking up 22 W’s in a row and counting.
RUSTON TRACK & FIELD: Competing at West Ouachita Thursday after a rainout of last Friday’s home meet, Ruston needed the competition to help shape the lineup for the start of the three-step path to the state championships.
Whitaker and his staff tried some ‘Cats in different events, altered some relay combinations, and hoped for younger or less proven athletes to show they could score in the 2-5A meet.
Check, check, and check. While reviewing quick results on the ride home Thursday evening, Whitaker was confident the Ruston boys and girls showed what their coaches wanted to see.
One of the nation’s top triple jumpers, junior Brandon “B.J.” Green, won the long jump and his football teammate, Keitravion “Bull” Hargrove, was second.
“Seeing them go 1-2 gives us confidence we can score well in the long jump at district,” Whitaker said.
Green stepped into the lead leg on the Bearcats’ 4×100 meter relay and started a winning 42.4 run. Demarion Roane, Trey Griffin and Hargrove kept RHS in front with smooth exchanges and strong legs.
After only two days of training in the high jump, football quarterback Jayden Osborne cleared 5-10 and barely missed 6-0. With a 6-2 clearance within reach after a little more practice, that performance raises Ruston’s stock in that event behind LHSAA indoor state runner-up Jamarion Reed.
Lady Bearcats standout sprinter Jada Green moved down from her specialty, the 400, and ran a blistering 24.79 in the 200, leaving Whitaker mulling if she can handle both races at district and fulfill her valuable relay legs, too.
An injury on the girls’ 4×200 foursome’s anchor leg resulted in freshman Zaccheya Jackson taking the spot Thursday, and the rookie responded. The quartet posted a state top-5 time (1:41.9) in a win.
With district foes Ouachita, Alexandria Senior High and West Ouachita among those competing, the RHS coaches watched their teams stack up favorably.
CHOUDRANT SOFTBALL: Collecting six RBI, Zoey Smith cracked four hits, including a two-run home run and a double that scored two more, in the Lady Aggies’ 23-7 rout at Summerfield.
Among her four RBI, Tori Martin’s two-run homer in the top of the first highlighted a 10-run outburst that set the tone.
Mattie Johnson also piled up four hits for Choudrant (18-10), which rapped 15 in all and stole 10 bases, led by Holly Bennett’s three.
CEDAR CREEK BASEBALL: Ouachita Christian’s six-run fourth inning was the backbreaker for visiting Cedar Creek in a 9-2 loss to the Eagles.
Zach Smith had two of the Cougars’ four hits, singling in J.T. Stephens in each of his first two trips to the plate.
Creek (11-13) jumped on top courtesy of Smith’s rip to center in the first inning, and went up 2-1 on his liner to left in the third, both with two out. OCS rallied for a two-run edge in the bottom half, then erupted in the following inning.
SIMSBORO SOFTBALL: Carlei Wheeler went 3-for-4, drove in four runs and struck out nine in the circle for Simsboro, but the homefield advantage helped Union Parish post a 10-8 win. So did five Simsboro errors and 14 stolen bases for the winners.
A four-run second moved UPHS up 4-1. Afterwards, the Lady Tigers (16-13) pulled within two runs in three different innings, including the seventh, but couldn’t overcome the deficit.