Panthers schedule includes summer camps, new opponents in the fall

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Heber Springs kicker Gideon Tate attempts an extra point off the hold of Easton Cusick at Little Rock Mills last season. Tate, Cusick and the rest of the Panthers have busy summer schedule planned before Fall camp opens in August. PHILIP SEATON FILE PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP McCARTY

The 2022 football schedule consists of familiar teams for the Heber Springs Panthers and again will be a nine-game regular season.

Heber Springs will open the nonconference season at Clinton on Sept. 2, followed by former conference foe Southside Batesville, who moved to Class 5A, and a first-ever meeting with Jonesboro Westside.

Reclassification kept Heber Springs in the 2-4A Conference with Lonoke, Stuttgart and Bald Knob, plus previous league foes Riverview and Cave City.

Harding Academy, a longtime nonconference opponent, moved up from Class 3A. Mountain View was assigned to the conference, but later school officials decided to play 8-man football.

“We still have Stuttgart, Lonoke and Bald Knob in the conference, with new teams like Harding Academy, Cave City and Riverview,” Heber Springs coach Todd Wood said. “It’s a good conference and if we can put all the pieces together, we will be competitive with all of them. I’m excited about the new conference.”

Wood said the nonconference schedule came together quickly.

“We went with Clinton for the first game because of the rivalry,” he said. “Clinton always is a big game and a good way to start the year. Southside is another rivalry and in the area. Then, we looked and schedule a game against Westside. There are three good opponents.”

Wood debated about scheduling a 10th game against a nonconference opponent after Mountain View opted out of the conference before staying with nine games. The Panthers will begin conference play by hosting Cave City on Sept. 23 for homecoming before playing the following week at Bald Knob.

The open date will come before a three-game stretch against the projected conference contenders — at Lonoke (Oct. 14), Stuttgart (Oct. 21) and at Harding Academy (Oct. 28).

“We decided not to fill the Mountain View date,” Wood said. “It will give us an open date before playing Lonoke, Stuttgart and Harding.”

A busy summer awaits the players, who will participate in three 7-on-7 events, plus three team camps.

The Panthers played at the Greenbrier 7-on-7 Tournament in early June and hosted Melbourne in 7-on-7 on June 13 and will again on July 18. Heber Springs will participate in team camps at Central Arkansas Christian on Tuesday and July 13 and at Mayflower on July 19.

Fall practice will start on Aug. 1, with the benefit game scheduled at Beebe on Aug. 16.

“This is my third year and everything is in place for an opportunity at success,” Wood said. “A talented group of last year’s junior high school players will be joining our returning players.”

Wood said one of the keys to the season is the development of the offensive and defensive lines.

“We will go as far as our linemen take us,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of them, but we have young guys who are learning. We have talented skilled players, but we need to develop a good line on both sides of the ball.”

HIGH SCHOOL
Aug. 16 x-Beebe 6 p.m. Away
Sept. 2 Clinton 7 p.m. Away
Sept. 9 Southside Batesville 7 p.m. Home
Sept. 16 Jonesboro Westside 7 p.m. Home
Sept. 23 y-Cave City 7 p.m. Home
Sept. 30 Bald Knob 7 p.m. Away
Oct. 14 Lonoke 7 p.m. Away
Oct. 21 Stuttgart 7 p.m. Home
Oct. 28 Harding Academy 7 p.m. Away
Nov. 4 Riverview 7 p.m. Home
x-Benefit game
y-Homecoming game

JUNIOR HIGH
Aug. 16 x-Beebe 5 p.m. Away
Aug. 25 Southside Batesville 7 p.m. Away
Sept. 1 Clinton 7 p.m. Home
Sept. 8 Jonesboro Westside 7 p.m. Away
Sept. 22 Cave City 7 p.m. Home
Sept. 29 Bald Knob 7 p.m. Home
Oct. 13 Lonoke 7 p.m. Home
Oct. 20 Stuttgart 7 p.m. Away
Oct. 27 Harding Academy 7 p.m. Home
Nov. 3 Riverview 7 p.m. Away
x-Benefit game

SEVENTH GRADE
Aug. 25 Southside Batesville 5:30 p.m. Away
Sept. 1 Clinton 5:30 p.m. Home
Sept. 8 Jonesboro Westside 5:30 p.m. Away
Sept. 22 Cave City 5:30 p.m. Away
Sept. 29 Bald Knob 5:30 p.m. Away
Oct. 13 Lonoke 5:30 p.m. Home
Oct. 20 Stuttgart 5:30 p.m. Away
Oct. 27 Harding Academy 5:30 p.m. Home
Nov. 3 Riverview 5:30 p.m. Away

Panthers begin offseason work

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Heber Springs junior defensive lineman Corbin Jones tangles with a Harding Academy lineman in nonconference action last season. The Wildcats will be a conference beginning this season. PHILIP SEATON FILE PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

An injury will force reshuffling of the backfield for the Heber Springs Panthers football team.

Sophomore Liam Buffalo, who was projected to become the starting quarterback at the conclusion of spring practice, recently suffered a knee injury while playing baseball and underwent surgery Friday. Buffalo, who participated for the junior high school football, basketball and track and field, plus he was a starter on the high school baseball team last year. is expected to miss the 2022 football season.

Buffalo led the Panther Cubs to a 13-5 record during the past two football seasons. He completed 82-of147 passes for 1,160 yards and 15 touchdowns with only one interception last season. He rushed 101 times for 931 yards and scored 15 touchdowns.

“We are disappointed in losing Liam,” Heber Springs coach Todd Wood said when asked about the team’s reaction. “Liam was looking forward to moving up to high school. He has a bright a future ahead and good things are coming.”

Junior Xander Lindley, last year’s starter before breaking his collarbone against Bald Knob, will assume the quarterback duties fulltime. Lindley had moved to wide receiver during spring practice.

Senior Easton Cusick, a two-year starter at receiver, will be Lindley’s backup. Cusick replaced Lindley when he was injured during the second series of the Bald Knob game.

In 2021, Lindley completed 35-of-62 passes for 515 yards and five touchdowns. He also rushed 58 times for 180 yards and scored two touchdowns. Cusick connected on 51-of-104 passes for 389 yards and two touchdowns.

“If there is a good part to this, we still have two guys coming back with experience,” Wood said. “I talked with Xander and told him that it was going back on his shoulders again.”

Lindley had his best game of last season against Central Arkansas Christian when he completed 11-of-13 passes for 113 yards and ran for 134 yards and two touchdowns.

“Xander was getting to his peak before the injury,” Wood said. “He had a great game against CAC. He and Parker Brown were becoming a dual threat in the backfield. This situation is an opportunity for Xander to rise up and do well.”

Wood said Lindley may play occasionally at receiver and in the defensive secondary.

Meanwhile, building an efficient offensive and defensive lines also will be focal points going into the new season. The Panthers return one experienced offensive lineman (Corbin Jones), but Wood liked the progress going into summer workouts.

“Corbin started last year as a sophomore and will be our left tackle,” Wood said. We have two players who were on last year’s junior high school team — Axley Davis (6-2, 270 pounds) and Gauge Owens (5-9, 200 pounds), who are battling for starting roles.”

Tripp Young (6-1, 260 pounds), who will be a senior, was on the team last year, and Wood expects Young to make an impact on the offensive and defensive lines.

“The coaching staff is excited about him (Young) coming back,” Wood said. “We expect good things from him as one of our guards. He also will be a strong player on the defensive line. We don’t have much depth on the offensive and defensive lines. Our main focus during the spring was getting the offensive and defensive lines ready.”

On a brighter side, most of last year’s skilled position players return.

“I’ve been pleased with the performance of the returning players,” Wood said. “They jumped right in there because they already knew what to do. We are ahead of last year on both sides of the ball. The returning players have positive attitudes and provided leadership, both from seniors and some of our younger players.”

Brown led the Panthers in rushing (113-834 yards, 11 touchdowns) and receiving (17-314 yards, five TDs). He also became the first player in school history with a 200-yard rushing and receiving games during the same season. Brown also rushed for 100 yards or more in four games. Brown excelled in the return game by returning 10 kickoffs for 195 yards and four punts for 65 yards.

Junior Dalton Yancey emerged as one of the team’s primary targets during the second half of last season by catching 15 passes for 122 yards.

“We have players with experience at receiver,” Wood said.

Warden rushed 48 times for 247 yards and scored two touchdowns for the junior high team last season. He caught 30 passes for 655 yards and seven touchdowns.

“Weston played running back for the junior high team last season, but he has worked at receiver,” Wood said. “Weston has speed and good hands.”

Gideon Tate, who made 17-of-18 points after touchdowns last season, returns at placekicker and ranks among the best in the state.

“I like the onside kickoff, but challenged Tate if he can kick it into the end zone consistently, we will do that more,” Wood said. “He is a good kicker.”

Linebacker Kenan Sneed will lead the defensive charge for the third straight season. Sneed led the Panthers with 115 tackles, including 17 for losses last season — it was the second straight season for Sneed to record more than 100 tackles. He had two quarterback sacks. Sneed also turned in one of the top plays of the season, a 48-yard interception return for a touchdown to switch the momentum in the win at Bald Knob.

Chris Edwards will move from cornerback to outside linebacker. Edwards ranked second among tacklers with a total of 66 stops, including seven for losses. He also had a 71-yard interception return for a touchdown against Dover.

“It’s good to have your leading tackler back coming back,” Wood said. “We will try and put guys around him, like Jacob McMullin, to build a stronger defense. Jacob is coming up from the junior high team and will be a solid inside linebacker. He will be in a good situation playing next to Kenan.”

Edwards and Zack Parker are the projected starters at outside linebackers. Parker started at safety for most of last season.

“Chris Roberts played safety and outside linebacker last year,” Wood said. “(Sophomore) Kaden Terrell has speed and plays aggressively. Warden played at cornerback in junior high. We are trying to put the right pieces in the right places.”

Wood said candidates are available to step in and play at safety.

“Colton Turley didn’t play last year, but he came back and can become a solid safety,” Wood said. “We have a lot of guys to look at.”

Panthers’ season ends at regional tournament

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Heber Springs senior J.T. Spears delivers a pitch to a Farmington batter during Friday’s regional tournament at Morrilton. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

MORRILTON — The Heber Springs Panthers again couldn’t escape giving up one big inning.

Farmington, the top-seeded team for the Class 4A North Baseball Regional, scored five runs in the bottom of the third inning and pulled away to a 7-0 win in and quarterfinal game at the Devil Dog Yard Complex on Friday.
The Panthers finished the season with a record of 12-13.

“That has been one of the things we battled all year, getting over the one bad inning,” Heber Springs coach Ryan Bridges said. “We made a couple of errors and then Farmington had two base hits to drive runners home. Our pitchers threw well and executed the game plan of not throwing many fastballs. We kept them off-balanced most of the time. They took advantage of our mistakes.”

Farmington righthander Myles Harvey pitched a one-hit shutout and allowed six Heber Springs hitters to reach base. Harvey walked four and struck out 12 batters.

The Panthers’ only scoring threat came when they loaded the bases in the fifth inning. Ty West reached on an error, John McBroome was hit by a pitch and Zane Lozeau walked with one out. The inning ended on a double play.

“We didn’t hit much and when we did, it was right at the defense,” Bridges said. “The pitcher struck out 12 batters. It’s difficult to win when you strike out that many times.”

Farmington sent nine batters to the plate during the five-run fifth inning. Lawson DeVault’s RBI single started the rally. Luke Elsik and Case Enderland each singled before Michael White hit a 2-run double. Chase Brown drove home two runners with a base hit.

The Cardinals scored runs during the fourth and sixth on Enderland’s RBI single and an infield out.

Despite the loss, Bridges said the team progressed throughout the season and a bright future looms ahead.

“Considering our inexperience, we did all right,” Bridges said. “We played four freshmen, three or four sophomores and two juniors most of the time. We had three senior players, and I feel for them. They (seniors) helped to change the program.”

The Panthers achieved two of their season goals — avoid the play-in game for the conference tournament and qualify for the regional tournament.

Bridges said the goals will be higher next season.

“We’re looking forward to the future with our younger players,” Bridges said. “Expectations next year is to punch our ticket for the state tournament. We played better every game, but that one inning got us almost every game. Hopefully, we learn to finish games, get rid of the one bad inning and play clean seven innings.”

Heber Springs 000 000 0–0 1 2
Farmington       005 101 x–7 8 3
HEBER SPRINGS HITTERS: J.T. Spears single.
HEBER SPRINGS PITCHERS: J.T. Spears (LP) 5 hits, 6 runs, 1 earned run, 0 walks, 1 strikeout in 4 innings; Corbin Jones 3 hits, 1 earned run, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts in 2 innings.
FARMINGTON HITTERS: Lawson DeVault single, double, 1 RBI; Chase Brown 2 singles, 2 RBIs; Michael White double, 2 RBIs; Caden Elsik single, 1 RBI; Kyson Bridges single 1 stolen base; Luke Elsik single; Case Enderland 1 RBI, 1 stolen base.
FARMINGTON PITCHER: Myles Harvey (WP) 1 hit, 0 runs, 4 walks and 12 strikeouts.

Panthers advance to regionals, face conference champ in district

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Heber Springs freshman Liam Buffalo gets his cut at the plate last Saturday at the Heber Springs Sports Complex. The Panthers will face Morrilton today in the district tournament semifinals. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

POTTSVILLE – The pressure of qualifying for the Class 4A West Regional Baseball Tournament became a reality for the Heber Springs Panthers on Tuesday.

Freshman Liam Buffalo’s sacrifice fly broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fifth inning, the first of three runs. Buffalo then pitched the seventh inning, ending the game on a strikeout, as the Panthers clinched its first regional tournament berth since 2018 with a 3-2 win against Clarksville in the 4-4A district quarterfinals.

The Panthers (12-11) will play Morrilton (17-3) at 4 p.m. Thursday in the tournament semifinals.

“This game was filled with pressure, just like the first game at Clarksville (during the regular season),” Heber Springs coach Ryan Bridges said. “We had scoring opportunities early in the game. We had runners on second and third bases in the first inning and couldn’t score. We had a runner at second base with no outs and didn’t score during the second inning. We had a lead-off triple (by Kenan Sneed) in the third. We tried a suicide-squeeze bunt, but failed to score. We finally scored later in the game and held on to win.”

Sneed just missed hitting for the cycle with a single and double to go along with his triple and had an RBI. J.T. Spears had a single and double, plus an RBI. Corbin Jones contributed an RBI double.

Spears was the starting and winning pitcher. He held Clarksville to four hits, walked three and struck out three batters in five innings. Jones took over the pitching duties in the sixth before Buffalo answered the call in the seventh.

“J.T. pitched well again for five innings,” Bridges said. “We misplayed some balls during the sixth inning and Clarksville took advantage of the scoring opportunities. Clarksville loaded the bases against Buffalo in the seventh with two outs, but Liam struck out the last batter to end the game.”

Heber Springs’ focus now turns to regular season champion Morrilton, which won the only game between the two teams this year. But Bridges expects a different outcome against the Devil Dogs at the tournament.

“I told the players we were playing with house money because no one expected us to be here (district semifinals),” Bridges said. “We are already in the regional and now can play more relaxed. We will approach it like playing an another game and an opportunity to improve. If we do win, we will play in the final on Friday. Winning also would give us a better seed for the regional tournament.”

Bridges said he was undecided on Thursday’s starting pitcher, but it would probably either be Jones or Ty West.

Heber Springs 3, Clarksville 2
Heber Springs hitters: Kenan Sneed single, double, triple; J.T. Spears single, double, 1 RBI; Corbin Jones double, 1 RBI; Liam Buffalo 1 RBI, 1 stolen base.
Heber Springs pitchers: J.T. Spears (WP) 4 hits, 0 runs, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts in 5 innings; Corbin Jones 2 hits, 2 runs, 1 earned run, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts in 1 inning; Liam Buffalo (Save) 1 hit, 0 runs, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts in 1 inning.

Lady Panthers finish on high note, look to down host at district tournament

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Heber Springs catcher Vallie Cantrell askes the umpire where the offering from Taylor Parker was located after the official called a ball against South Side Bee Branch on Friday at the Heber Springs Sports Complex. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

The Heber Springs softball team opens 4-4A district tournament play today at Pottsville against the host school with a lot on the line for both teams.

A win would advance the Panthers to the 4A-North Regional Tournament at Morrilton next week.

“It has been three seasons since a Heber softball team has played in the postseason,” Heber Springs coach Dusty West said.  “We have talked all year about setting the foundation for the future and rebuilding the legacy of Heber Softball and this is part of the equation.”

To rebuild that legacy, the Panthers (9-11 overall) must get past a Pottsville team that beat Heber Springs 7-0 on April 5th in Pottsville.

“We are excited to play the host school Tuesday in the first round,” West said on Monday. “They beat us the first time on only two earned runs.

“If we can limit the number of free passes and errors, we will have a great opportunity to move on to the semis (of the district tournament) and regionals.  Making a regional has been this team’s goal this year.  We knew it would be a challenge and we have set ourselves up to make it reality.”

The Panthers are coming off a week which saw victories over Rose Bud (7-3 on April 18) and South Side Bee Branch on Friday (13-6) sandwiched in-between a 13-2 loss to a hard-hitting Dardanelle team on April 19th.

“This team has really been playing well here of late,” West said.  “They have been getting better every time we get to play.  Our pitching has become more consistent over the past two weeks and that has really helped us as a team.”

The Panthers will play the second game of the day (Dardanelle will open with Ozark) around 6:30 p.m. A win would set-up a re-match with conference champion Morrilton in the semifinals on Thursday at Pottsville.

“Coming from where we were this time last year, I couldn’t be more excited for this team and the opportunity they will have Tuesday night,” West said on Monday.  “We have improved in all areas on the field this year and Tuesday is a chance for these kids to see their hard work throughout the summer/fall/winter finally pay off. ”

4-4A CONFERENCE 
FINAL STANDINGS
Morrilton       5-0    16-6
Clarksville     4-1    11-7
Dardanelle      3-2    13-5
Pottsville      2-3     3-13
Heber Springs   1-4     9-11
Ozark           0-5     3-17

HEBER SPRINGS 13, SOUTH SIDE BEE BRANCH 6

April 22

Senior Kylie Carr finished with five RBIs in helping lead Heber Springs to the 13-6 win.

Each team collected 11 hits each. Heber Springs was led by junior Madison Clemons, who finished 3-for-3 at the plate.

The Panthers score a pair of runs in the first inning highlighted by a Carr double.

Singles by Clemons, Carr and Gracie Parish, and a walk by Vallie Cantrell helped Heber Springs plate six runs in the fourth inning as the Panthers led 8-0.

South Side plated three in the fifth, two in the sixth and one in the seventh.

Addison Hudspeth also finished with a pair of hits for the Panthers.

Freshman Taylor Parker claimed the win in the circle for Heber Springs working four innings and striking out four. Brooklyn Barnes and Hudsepth each pitched in relief.

DARDANELLE 13, HEBER SPRINGS 2

April 19

Dardanelle scored in five of the seven innings to claim the win over Heber Springs.

Trailing 6-0, the Panthers plated a run in the fourth on a Hudspeth RBI single that drove in Parker, who had reached on a double.

The Sand Lizards made it 9-1 with three in the fifth and 10-1 with a run in the sixth before the Panthers plated another run after Vallie Cantrell singled and scored on a sacrifice bunt by Rylee Birmingham.

HEBER SPRINGS 7, ROSE BUD 3

April 18

Parker pitched a complete striking out 11 for Heber Springs allowing three runs on seven hits.

Hudspeth went 2-for-4 at the plate to lead the Panthers.

Rose Bud scored all three of its runs in the fifth inning.

Heber Springs took a 1-0 advantage in the second after Hope Turney reached on a walk and would later score on a Barnes single.

The Panthers made it 3-0 in the third as both Parish and Turney reached base and would later score on an error.

In the fourth, Parker walked, stole second and score on an error off the bat of Hudspeth. After a strikeout, Clemons drove in a Hudspeth with a two-out single to right.

Heber Springs added two insurance runs in the sixth as Parker and Birmingham both scored.

 

Panthers head to Pottsville looking for a regional berth

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Heber Springs catcher Cole Payton comes up with the catch of a pop fly as pitcher Corbin Jones attempts to get out of the way against Subiaco Academy at the Heber Springs Sports Complex. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

The Heber Springs Panther baseball team reached its first season goal with Saturday’s 10-6 win against Subiaco Academy in the regular season finale at the Heber Springs Sports Complex.

The Panthers (11-11 overall, 3-3 in 4-4A) will begin play at the 4-4A Conference Tournament against Clarksville at 4 p.m. Tuesday in Pottsville. Tuesday’s winner will qualify for the North Regional tournament in Morrilton.

Subiaco Academy (8-10 overall, 1-5 in 4-4A) is scheduled to play Pottsville in the play-in game, also on Tuesday.

“We set a goal of avoiding the play-in game and accomplished it,” Heber Springs coach Ryan Bridges said. “It also will benefit our pitching staff. We need one win get to the regional tournament and that also was one of our goals. The players are excited about that.”

The Panthers defeated Clarksville (9-7 overall, 2-4 in 4-4A) 3-2 earlier this season in Clarksville.

“It will be a tough game,” Bridges said. “Clarksville has a big lefty, who is a very good pitcher. We have not faced him yet. We will be working on our hitting in practice and then see what happens on Tuesday.”

Liam Buffalo led the Heber Springs’ offense with three singles and an RBI, plus two stolen bases. Preston Fitzpatrick hit a single and a double for three RBIs. Ty West had two singles and a stolen base. John McBroome contributed two singles.

The Panthers broke the game open by scoring five runs during the second inning and pulled away to a 6-1 lead.

“The second inning helped to get us going,” Bridges said. We put the ball in play It helped us to get more comfortable. The bunt hits and doing what we needed helped to win the game by putting more runs on the board.”

But it was not just hitting. Bridges liked the performance of his pitching staff.

Corbin Jones, who was the starting and winning pitcher, allowed five hits and two earned runs with three strikeouts and a walk in four innings. Logan Lozeau pitched the fifth inning and gave up three hits and an earned run with one walk and a strikeout.

West relieved Lozeau in the sixth and allowed two hits and three runs, one run earned, with one walk. Buffalo pitched the seventh and permitted two hits and struck out two batters.

“We got good pitching,” Bridges said. “Corbin pitched well for four innings. Logan and Ty helped out and Buffalo closed the game.”

Subiaco Academy took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Wesley Schluterman reached base on a single and later scored on Drew Creek’s infield out. The Panthers tied the game in the bottom of the inning. Zane Lozeau walked, advanced to second on an infield out and scored on Buffalo’s two-out RBI single.

Heber Springs loaded the bases with no outs in the 5-run second inning. Preston Fitzpatrick hit a 2-run single to break the 1-1 tie. McBroome came home on Zane Lozeau’s sac fly and Fitzpatrick scored after a wild pitch. Cole Payton walked and crossed the plate when Buffalo reached on an error.
The Trojans scored runs in the third and fifth innings.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Panthers increased their lead to 10-3. West hit 2-run single, J.T. Spears scored on an infield hit, and West crossed the plate when Sneed was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.

Subiaco Academy scored its final three runs in the sixth inning.

“We tried to be more aggressive running the bases,” Bridges said. “Getting clutch hits and the base running helped to put the game away (in the fifth).”

Bridges hasn’t decided on a starting pitcher for Clarksville. Spears, who pitched a complete-game win in the teams’ earlier game, is the likely starter.

“That game was scoreless until the sixth inning,” Bridges said. “Not sure if J.T. might start or go with someone else since he pitched last time we played. We got the momentum with Saturday’s win. I like our chances for Tuesday’s games.”

Subiaco Academy    100 113  0–6 12 2
Heber Springs           150 040 x–10 10 1

SUBIACO ACADEMY HITTERS: Wesley Schluterman single, double, 1 RBI; Ivan Martijin 2 singles, 1 stolen base; Brody Koch 2 singles, 1 stolen base; Luke Castro double, 1 stolen base; Jacob Grist double; Conner Haynes single, 1 RBI; Drew Creek single, 1 stolen base; Sebastian Kersh single.
HEBER SPRINGS HITTERS: Liam Buffalo 3 singles, 1 RBI, 2 stolen bases; Preston Fitzpatrick single, double, 3 RBIs; Ty West 2 singles, 1 stolen base; John McBroome 2 singles; J.T. Spears single; Cole Payton 1 RBI, 1 stolen base, Zane Lozeau 1 RBI; Kenan Sneed 1 RBI.
SUBIACO ACADEMY PITTERS: Conner Haynes 1 hit, 1 earned run, 1 strikeout in 1 inning; Wesley Schluterman (LP) 4 hits, 5 runs, 3 earned runs, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts in 2 innings; Logan Hess 5 hits, 4 earned runs in 3 innings.
HEBER SPRINGS PITCHERS: Corbin Jones (WP) 5 hits, 2 earned runs, 3 strikeouts, 1 walk in 4 innings; Logan Lozeau 3 hits, 1 earned run, 1 walk, 1 strikeout in 1 inning; Ty West 2 hits, 3 runs, 1 earned run, 1 walk in 1 inning; Liam Buffalo 2 hits, 0 runs, 2 strikeouts in 1 inning.

Panthers fall to Dardanelle; to battle Subiaco

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Heber Springs senior Zane Lozeau reacts to a play in the bottom of the seventh-inning as the Panthers comeback attempt came up short against Dardanelle on Tuesday. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

Weather put Heber Springs’ baseball 4-4A Conference Tournament seeding on hold for now.

The Panthers (2-3 in 4-4A, 10-11 overall) lost to Dardanelle (4-2 in 4-4A, 12-5 overall) 5-3 Tuesday at the Heber Springs Sports Complex and missed an opportunity of clinching a No. 2 seed for the tournament.

“This game really hurts because it has been a while since Heber had an opportunity of a No. 2 seed,” Heber Springs coach Ryan Bridges said. “The guys played and worked hard, but we got to do that before the seventh inning.”

Dardanelle clinched the No. 2 seed with the win, while Morrilton will be the top seed. The Sand Lizards and Devil Dogs assured themselves of regional tournament berths.

Heber Springs and Ozark currently are tied for third place in the conference standings. Weather canceled Wednesday’s Subiaco Academy at Ozark game. Ozark needs one win to earn the No. 3 seed. The Panthers, who are scheduled to host Subiaco Academy on Thursday. Heber Springs can avoid the play-in game with a win against Subiaco Academy.

“We want to avoid the play-in game,” Bridges said. “That would force us to win two games for a regional tournament berth, instead of just one win. I’m hoping playing on senior night will give us extra motivation against Subiaco Academy. We need to play well and win. I like our chances, especially playing at home.”

J.T. Spears, who was the starting and losing pitcher, allowed five hits, four runs with nine strikeouts and four walks against Dardanelle. Corbin Jones relieved Spears at the beginning of the seventh inning, allowing one hit and one run with two strikeouts.

“J.T. pitched well,” Bridges said. “We probably needed to throw more off-speed pitches in that first inning because they had trouble hitting those type of pitches. Instead, we threw all fastballs and they hit them. I saw something from J.T. that I’ve not seen this year, more energy. He got into his zone during the second, third and fourth innings.”

Zane Rose started Dardanelle’s three-run first inning with a walk. Drew Vega hit a double, putting runners on second and third bases before Robert Millard’s two-run double. Millard later scored on Colvy Holt’s RBI single.

“Just wish there was a way to take the three runs Dardanelle scored in the first inning away,” Bridges said. “I thought (third baseman) Liam (Buffalo) had a chance to make a backhanded catch, but the ball hit the bag and bounced over Liam’s head.”

Dardanelle scored runs in the fifth and seventh innings for a 5-0 lead before the Panthers threatened to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh.
Heber Springs loaded the bases with no outs when Xander Lindley and pinch-hitter Ty West each walked and Preston Fitzsimmons was hit by a pitch. Lindley scored on Zane Lozeau’s sacrifice fly and Kenan Sneed followed with an RBI single. Fitzsimmons came home on Cole Peyton’s sac fly, reducing Dardanelle’s lead to 5-3 with two outs.

The game ended when reliever Ty Roper, who replaced starter Titus Spencer with one out in the seventh, on a strikeout.

“We had good at-bats during the seventh inning,” Bridges said. “We need to do that throughout the game and get on base anyway we can. When we do that, we will have opportunities to win games.”

Dardanelle        300 010 1–5 6 1
Heber Springs 000 000 3–3 4 2

DARDANELLE HITTERS: Robert Millard single, double, 2 RBIs, 1 stolen base; Colvy Holt 2 singles, 1 RBI; Drew Vega double, 1 stolen base; Clayton Weatherford single, 1 RBI, 1 stolen base.

HEBER SPRINGS HITTERS: Kenan Sneed 2 singles, 1 RBI, 1 stolen base; Zane Lozeau double, 1 RBI; Preston Fitzpatrick single; Cole Peyton 1 RBI.

DARDANELLE PITCHERS: Titus Spencer (WP) 3 hits, 1 run, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts in 6 innings; Ty Roper (Save) 1 hit, 2 earned runs, 1 walk, 1 strikeout in 1 inning.

HEBER SPRINGS PITCHERS: J.T. Spears (LP) 5 hits, 4 earned runs, 4 walks, 9 strikeouts in 6 innings; Corbin Jones 1 hits, 1 run, 2 strikeouts in 1 inning.

Panthers top Ozark, Calico Rock in softball action; fall to Searcy

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Heber Springs’ Taylor Parker reacts at reaches third base after hitting a grand-slam against Ozark on Friday. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

The Heber Springs Panthers won a 4-4A conference contest on Friday and then split two games on Saturday at tournament held at the Heber Springs Sports Complex.

On Friday, Taylor Parker started on the mound and got the win, but the freshman’s grand slam in the bottom of the fifth helped spark a 10-run inning in leading the Panthers to a run-rule 15-5 victory over Ozark.

On Saturday, Heber Springs hosted a four-team tournament with Pangburn, Calico Rock and  Searcy. The Panthers dropped the first contest, 5-4, as Searcy walked-off Heber Springs with a run, but the Panthers rebounded with an 8-3 victory over Calico Rock.

Heber Springs, 1-2 in conference play, is scheduled to play at Clarksville on Tuesday in another conference contest before taking on Lonoke Thursday in a nonconference game.

The Panthers set at 7-9 on the season.

Panthers fall to Ozark in 4-4A play

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Heber Springs’ Kenan Sneed. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

Ozark rallied for four runs in the fourth inning and two runs in the fifth and defeated the Heber Springs Panthers 8-3 in a 4-4A Conference baseball game at the Heber Springs Sports Complex on Friday.

The Hillbillies (2-2 in 4-4A, 8-7 overall) are tied for third place with the win. Meanwhile, the Panthers (1-2 in 4-4A, 8-10 overall) slipped into a tie for fifth place with Pottsville (1-2 in 4-4A, 7-7 overall). Morrilton (3-0 in 4-4A, 12-1 overall) remains at the top of the standings, one game ahead of Dardanelle (2-1 in 4-4A, 9-5 overall) and Clarksville (2-1 in 4-4A, 7-4 overall).

Kayden McAnally led Ozark with three singles and a stolen base. Sterling Strick hit a single and a double with 3 RBIs. Dylan Herriage, who was the winning pitcher, had a 2-run double Herriage allowed nine hits and three run with seven strikeouts in 6 and two/third innings. McAnally relieved Herriage and got the final out in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Kenan Sneed had two singles and a double with one stolen base for the Panthers. Corbin Jones hit a 2-run double and Liam Buffalo had an RBI single in the fifth inning.

Jones, who was the starting and losing pitcher, scattered five hits and yielded five runs before Ty West relieved with one out in the top of the fourth inning. West pitched through the fifth inning. J.T. Spears finished with four strikeouts and allowed three hits and one earned during the final two innings.

Ozark took a 1-0 lead in the second inning before breaking the game open with four runs in the fourth. The Hillbillies added two runs in the fifth and scored one run in the seventh.

Heber Springs scored its runs in the bottom of the fifth.

Heber Springs resumes conference play at Clarksville on Tuesday and then it will host Subiaco Academy on Friday. The conference games will start at 4:30 p.m.

Ozark                   010 420 1–8 10 0
Heber Springs 000 030 0–3 9 1
Ozark hitters: Kayden McAnally 3 singles, 1 stolen base; Sterling Strick single, double, 3 RBIs; Dylan Herriage double, 2 RBIs; Spencer Lippott single, 2 RBIs; Richdan Case single, 1 RBI; Landon Wright single; Dax Shaffer single.
Heber Springs hitters: Kenan Sneed 2 singles, double, 1 stolen base; Corbin Jones double, 2 RBIs; Liam Buffalo single, 1 RBI; J.T. Spears single; Logan Lozeau single; John McBroome single; Preston Fitzpatrick single.
Ozark pitchers: Dylan Herriage (WP) 9 hits, 3 earned runs, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts in 6.2 innings; Kayden McAnally 0 hits, 0 runs in .1 inning.
Heber Springs pitchers: Corbin Jones (LP) 5 hits, 5 earned runs, 5 walks, 5 strikeouts in 3.1 innings; Ty West 2 hits, 2 runs, 1 strikeout in 1.2 inning; J.T. Spears 3 hits, 1 earned run, 4 strikeouts in 2 innings.

Heber Springs blanks Pangburn in nonconference play, host Newport today

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Heber Springs sophomore Corbin Jones delivers a first-inning pitch against Pangburn. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

Heber Springs hopes a return to the Heber Springs Sports Complex leads to more success on the field.

The Panthers (2-4) began the season by shutting out Pangburn at home and won one of four games against at the Sheridan  Tournament.

Heber Springs started the tournament with losses to 6A Sheridan and 5A Searcy before the 6-0 shutout against Pangburn at home last Thursday. The Panthers lost to 6A Little Rock Catholic last Friday before a 14-9 win against Malvern in the tournament finale on Saturday.

On Monday, Heber Springs fell to Beebe 11-4. The Panthers are scheduled to host Newport at 4:30 p.m. Thursday and Batesville at 5 p.m. Friday.

“We played two tough games to start the season,” Heber Springs coach Ryan Bridges said. “We played them close, but unable to finish it at the end of the games. Against Pangburn, we got out on them early in the game. Pangburn was a good team and played at last year’s state tournament.”

Corbin Jones struck out three and allowed two hits in five innings. Ty West pitched the sixth and Xander Lindley relieved West in the seventh.

“Corbin did a good job and answered back from his first start,” Bridges said. “He threw 38 pitches through four innings and finished with 66 pitches. He got in a jam during the fifth inning, but got out of it. The other guys stepped up and finished the game. Ty pitched well and used his split-finger pitch and a change-up. Xander pitched his first game and did well, too.”

John McBroome led the Heber Springs offense with two singles. Liam Buffalo had two RBIs and Zane Lozeau had an RBI.

“We finally took advantage of opportunities with runners in scoring position,” Bridges said.

Pangburn          000 000 0–0 3 2
Heber Springs 010 230 x–6 4 1
Pangburn hitters: Braxton Butler single; Cole Ramsey single; Stephen Toumajan single.
Heber Springs hitters: John McBroom 2 singles; Liam Buffalo single, 2 RBIs; Kenan Sneed single; Zane Lozeau 1 RBI.
Pangburn pitchers: Braxton Butler 1 hit, 1 earned runs, 3 walks, 1 strikeout in 1.1 inning; Trevor Evans 1 hits, 2 runs, 1 earned run, 3 walks, 1 strikeout in 2 innings; Xander Kane 2 hits, 3 earned runs, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts in 1 inning; Rhett Tharp 1 hit, 0 runs, 1 walk in 1.2 inning.
Heber Springs pitchers: Corbin Jones 2 hits, 0 runs, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts in 5 innings; Ty West 0 hits, 0 runs, 2 strikeouts in 1 inning; Xander Lindley 1 hits, 0 runs in 1 inning.