Lady Noles sweep second-round series against Baldwyn

SMITHVILLE – The Smithville Lady Seminoles kicked off Round 2 of the Class 1A playoffs with a dominant Game 1 performance against Baldwyn, taking a 21-2 win on Thursday before closing out the series on Friday with a 13-0 win.

“We had a good week of practice, and we’ve been talking about things that we can control and things that we can do better,” Smithville coach John Harris said. “Hats off to Baldwyn because they came out ready to play, and they played hard all game, coming out swinging the bat well. We had to respond, and I was very proud of the way we responded.”

A two-run homer put the Lady Bearcats on the board first before Kayleigh Harris and Sophie Hass picked up the final two outs in the outfield. The Lady Noles quickly got those two runs back and more in the bottom of the first.

After Hallie Benson drew a leadoff walk, Addie Grace Hughey hit a double to left field and hurried to third on the throw to home, while Benson scored Smithville’s first run. Hughey tied things up at 2-2 after scoring on a wild pitch before Baldwyn snagged the first out.

Olivia Carter kept Smithville rolling after reaching second on an error at left field, while Kayleigh Harris followed with a double. Both runners came in on Keely Mitchell’s single, giving the Lady Noles a 4-2 lead.

After Caylee Parker drew a walk, Smithville’s lead grew after Hass drove in two runs with a single, and Benson hit a two-run bomb shortly after. The Lady Bearcats got out of the inning trailing 8-2, and Benson’s pitching made for a quick top of the second as she struck out two batters.

“We took good swings at good pitches and lined them off, and we ran the bases well to put up a bunch of runs,” Harris said.

Kelby Seales and Mitchell got on base after Baldwyn got an out to start the bottom of the second, and Parker added to Smithville’s lead with an RBI single. Benson followed with a two-run double, while Hughey’s RBI single gave the Lady Noles a double-digit lead at 12-2.

Andi Kate Holloway and Carter drew walks to load the bases, and Harris pushed the score to 14-2 with a two-run single. The Lady Noles ended the second inning leading 17-2 after a two-run single by Mitchell, while Seales scored a run on a passed ball.

The Lady Bearcats managed to get three runners on base with two outs during their next at-bat in the top of the third, but a groundout to Hughey at second base closed out the inning.

Hass hit a leadoff single to start the bottom of the third, and Benson delivered her second two-run bomb of the game. The Lady Noles sealed the big Game 1 win by loading the bases and scoring their last two runs on a hit-by-pitch and a walk before the game was called.

“We know that they’re going to battle us again on Friday for Game 2,” Harris said. “They’re not going to go easy, so we’re going to have to be ready to go tomorrow and play good defense behind Olivia (Carter). If we swing it like that in Game 2, we should be in good shape.”

Friday, Game 2: Smithville 13, Baldwyn 0

BALDWYN – Smithville has been swinging some hot bats the last two weeks, and no one has been hotter than Hallie Benson.

The senior set the pace again on Friday, as the Seminoles rolled past Baldwyn 13-0 in four innings to sweep their second-round Class 1A playoff series. Smithville (21-7) will face Myrtle in the next round.

Over their last six games, the Seminoles have batted .462 as a team. They banged out 10 hits against Baldwyn after collecting 13 in Thursday’s 21-2 Game 1 win.

“We went through a little spell there where we were pressing a lot and didn’t have to and doing things outside ourselves,” coach Drew Summerford said. “We’ve started hitting the ball and being more disciplined.”

During that same six-game span, Benson went 11 of 14 with 14 RBIs and 15 runs scored. The leadoff hitter in the lineup, Benson had a pair of RBI singles, scored three runs and walked twice on Friday.

“Since my seventh-grade year, whenever we get in the playoffs, the Lady Noles get hot,” she said. “I think that’s what really got us fired up, and we’ve started hitting.”

Smithville jumped on Baldwyn early, scoring five runs in the first inning. Olivia Carter and Kayleigh Harris highlighted the frame with back-to-back RBI singles.

The Noles added another run in the second and three in the third. Sophie Hass stroked an RBI double, and Benson had an RBI single in the latter.

That pair had RBI hits in the fourth as well.

“She has been on fire,” Summerford said of Benson. “We’ve had a lot of people at times that have been on fire for us this year. It’s been all of us. … It’s been a collective team effort, no doubt.”

Carter got the win in the circle, allowing just one hit. Baldwyn (9-11) had chances to score early but stranded five runners over the first three innings.

Extra Bases

Big Inning: Smithville had four hits in the first inning and got some help via two Baldwyn errors.

Big Stat: Benson stole five bases.

Coach Speak: “They hit the ball, they hit it hard. They throw strikes, and they make you beat them, and they’re solid defensively.” – Baldwyn’s Dru Allen, on Smithville