By Kyle Roberts
BASEBALL: The Ruston High School Bearcats (11-6) had a 10-game winning streak snapped Tuesday at home in a low scoring game against Airline by a final score of 2-1, and followed by splitting a two-game series with District 2-5A opponent Alexandria Senior High by a score of 8-1 in a loss Thursday and then a 6-5 walk-off win Saturday over the Trojans in the opening weekend for district play.
“It was a tight ballgame with Airline,” Ruston head coach Zack Smith said of the Tuesday ballgame. “I was disappointed that we couldn’t come through at the right moments. We had some opportunities, be we didn’t execute.”
Ruston gave up two runs through the first three innings to trail 2-0 before cutting into the lead in the bottom of the sixth inning after senior Kyron McConnell grounded into a fielder’s choice to score sophomore Jake Simmons.
Ruston would drop a second straight contest on Thursday on the first night of district play on the road after giving up eight unanswered runs after leading 1-0 in the top of the second inning. The Bearcats led the Trojans 3-2 after the bottom of the first before extending the lead to 4-2 after the third. ASH would take its first lead of the night in the top of the six after scoring two runs, but Ruston answered with both a run in the bottom of the sixth and then a walk-off single to left field by Bryant Bennett to score junior Gabe Gaudet.
“We faced a really good pitcher in Joe Bordelon for ASH on Thursday,” Smith said. “He did a great job of slowing our offense down, and we knew we would have to bounce back at our place. Sophomore Talan Billberry started for us and pitched four innings before senior Chase Clendenen came in to give us a good strong inning. And then we brought senior J.R. Tollett in to finish it for the last two innings and kept us in the ballgame where we had the chance to win it there at the end. Fortunately enough, Bennett came in with the walk-off hit that scored the winning run. That was very exciting for our team to bounce back after two tough losses.”
The Bearcats return to action tonight at home at 6 p.m. to take on a very talented Glenbrook team.
SOFTBALL: The Lady Bearcat softball team (3-11) picked up a couple of wins last week; first on Friday over North Caddo by a final score of 21-2 before beating Minden 10-6 on Saturday, both at the Evangel Tournament in Shreveport.
The win over Minden came on the heels of a tough 9-6 loss to D’Arbonne Woods with just a short break in between games. The Lady Bearcats gave up four runs in the top of the seventh and were unable to rally back at the end despite scoring three late inning runs.
Ruston head coach Lauren Garvie highlighted a series of plays that indicate how her team is continue to improve.
“At one point we were tied with D’arbonne Woods, and we’ve been drilling to play for each other and hit for first base,” Ruston head coach Lauren Garvie said. “(Junior Cala) Wilson singles on a hard ground ball and then (sophomore) Rilee Atwood, who has the talent to hit big, sac bunts to move her around and eventually (freshman) Sage Tolar doubles to score the go ahead run.
“I turned around and looked at Rilee and said “you just made that possible, great job!” And that’s not to take away from the hits that both Cala and Sage had but it’s to point out that this game is bigger than just one or two hits.”
Ruston shook off the end of the D’Arbonne Woods game and immediately went to work against Minden to get the win.
“My girls could have very easily wallowed in their seventh inning and not came back ready to play against Minden,” Ruston head coach Lauren Garvie said. “They had about a 15 minute break to reset their mind and they came back ready to play. I keep saying it but truly every week is about growth and this week that growth showed up a little bit in the wins/loss column which I think is what these girls needed.”
Ruston had fallen previously in the week to a pair of district opponents; first to West Ouachita 11-0 on Tuesday and then Ouachita 12-6 on Thursday.
“In the middle of the week we talked about what it meant to truly play this game and play it unselfishly then we came out Thursday as a team ready to play. We had been struggling in the 5/6 gap on the infield and we came into Thursday ready to lay out and make the play. Atwood pitched more innings for us this week than she has all year and she did well. We also hit in the later part of the week and it was good, we bunted in the later part of the week and it was good.”
Ruston hosts West Monroe tonight to continue district play.