Panthers thump Hillbillies in regular season finale

Heber Springs pitcher J.T. Spears delivers a first-inning pitch to an Ozark batter on Friday at Panther Field. The Panthers won the 4A-4 contest 10-1. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

Heber Springs came out swinging and celebrated senior night with one of its best performances of the season at the Heber Springs Sports Complex on Friday.

Kenan Sneed, Garrett Hudspeth and Matthew Cook each hit three singles as the Panthers whipped Ozark 10-1 in a 4-4A Conference baseball game. Sneed led the offense with three RBIs while Hudspeth had two RBIs.

Heber Springs and Ozark will meet again at 4:30 p.m. Monday, also at the Heber Springs Sports Complex, in a play-in game at the conference tournament. The winner will advance to play Clarksville at Dardanelle on Tuesday.

“We played a complete baseball game,” Panther coach Monterio May said. “I was happy to get all of the seniors in the game on senior night. We are starting to put everything together and excited to see what this team will do going forward.”

Heber Springs (4-8 in conference, 5-13 overall) fell from a No. 4 to a No. 6 seed because of a forfeit of an earlier win against Subiaco Academy. The forfeiture occurred because a pitcher exceeded the pitch count limit during that game.

The Panthers had 13 hits, all singles, against three Ozark pitchers.

“We got the bats rolling,” he said. “We quit swinging at bad pitches.”

J.T. Spears limited Ozark to three hits with two strikeouts in six innings. Matthew Cook pitched the seventh inning.

“J.T. competes every day and embodies everything we want to do as a team,” May said. “He brings  intensity and consistency. He usually throws around 70 percent strikes. I told him we need him to throw at least 60 percent to win. He does it with five different pitches.”

Heber Springs scored one run in the first and second innings.

Hudspeth and Cook hit singles to start the bottom of the first inning. Sneed’s fly ball to the outfield allowed Hudspeth to tag and advanced to third base.

Hudspeth scored on a wild pitch for the 1-0 lead.

In the second inning, Corbin Jones reached on an error and Conner Riddle had a single. Jones scored on Hudspeth’s base hit.

After Ozark scored in the top of the fourth, the Panthers responded with three runs during the bottom of the inning and increased their lead.

Hudspeth walked and advanced to third base on Cook’s single. Sneed followed with an RBI base hit, scoring Hudspeth. Cole Payton walked to load the bases. Xander Lindley also walked, bringing in Cook from third base. Sneed scored on an error as the Panthers held a 5-1 lead.

Heber Springs put the game away in the fifth by scoring five runs. Riddle hit a single and later scored on Hudspeth’s base hit. After Cook’s single, Sneed lined a 2-run single into center field. The final two runs came on an error and a fielder’s choice.

May said the win gives momentum to the team for Monday’s game.

“We will be ready to play,” he said.

Ozark 000 100 0- 1 3 3
Heber Springs` 110 350 x- 10 13 2
Ozark hitters — Sebastian Ross single; Dylan Herriage single; Rylee Griffin single; Tyler Sanders 1 stolen base.
Ozark pitchers — Kayden McAnally (L) 7 hits, 5 runs, 3 earned runs, 4 walks in 3.1 innings; Dax Shaffer 3 hits, 3 earned runs, 2 walks in .2 inning; Dylan Herriage 3 hits, 2 runs, 5 strikeouts in 2 innings.
Heber Springs hitters — Kenan Sneed 3 singles, 3 RBIs; Garrett Hudspeth 3 singles, 2 RBIs, 2 stolen bases; Matthew Cook 3 singles, 1 stolen base; Conner Riddle 2 singles, 1 stolen base; Xander Lindley single, 1 RBI; Corbin Jones single; J.T. Spears 1 RBI; Easton Cusick 1 stolen base.
Heber Springs pitchers — J.T. Spears (W) 3 hits, 1 run, 2 strikeouts, 3 walks in 6 innings; Mathew Cook 0 hits, 0 runs in 1 inning.

Heber Springs rally comes up short against Clarksville

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

Clarksville scored five runs during the first two innings and hang on for an 8-5 win against the Heber Springs Panthers in a 4-4A Conference baseball game at the Heber Springs Sports Complex Monday.

The defeat and Tuesday’s 8-7 loss at Dardanelle dropped the Panthers (3-7 in conference, 4-12 overall) to fifth place in the conference standings.

“We let up during the first inning,” Heber Springs coach Monterio May said following the loss to Clarksville. “We picked it up before the end of the inning, but it was too little, too late. We have been trying to instill in the players that the game is not over until it’s over. We need to come out and play with more intensity early in the game.”

Righthander J.T Spears, who was the losing pitcher, allowed seven hits, eight runs and had four strikeouts and one walk in 5.1 innings. Corbin Jones relieved Spears and permitted one hit and struck out one batter in 1.2 inning.

“Spears did what was expected and gave us a chance at winning,” May said. “He is turning into a diamond in the rough and he’s only a sophomore. J.T. throws all of his pitches for strikes, and he has a chance to become an even better pitcher in the future.”

John-Foster Case, Landon Leeds and Dakota Palsey hit RBI singles during the top of the first inning. Leeds scored later on Cole Chrisman’s sacrifice fly.

Heber Springs scored one run in the bottom of the inning.

Garrett Hudspeth was hit by a pitch and moved into scoring position by stealing second base. Hudspeth later scored on an infield out.

After Clarksville scored one run in the top of the second for a 5-1 lead, the Panthers kept close in the bottom of the inning. Xander Lindley reached on an error, Spears hit a single and the runners advanced on a passed ball. Lindley came home on an infield out. Spears scored on Hudspeth’s double and reduced Clarksville lead to 5-3.

Clarksville scored one run in the top of the fifth, but the Panthers matched it during the bottom half of the inning.

Kenan Sneed reached on a fielder’s choice and then he scored on Cole Payton’s RBI triple.

Clarksville added two runs during the sixth inning and increased its lead to 8-4.
Heber Springs’ final run came in the bottom of the seventh on a bases-loaded walk to Lindley.

The Panthers are scheduled to host Bald Knob in a non-conference game at 4:30 p.m. Thursday and play a conference game at Subiaco Academy on Friday.

Clarksville 410 012 0–8 12 2
Heber Springs 120 010 1–5 5  2
Clarksville hitters — Alex Snow 4 singles, 1 stolen base; John-Foster Case single, double, 2 RBIs; Landon Leeds 2 singles, 2 RBIs, 1 stolen base; Easton Burkett single, 1 1 RBI, 1 stolen base; Dakota Pasley single, 1 RBI; Cole Chrisman single, 1 RBI; Gabe Kremers single, 1 stolen base.
Clarksville  pitchers — Dakota Pasley (W) 2 hits, 4 runs, 1 earned run, 3 strikeouts, 3 walks in 4.2 innings; John-Foster Case 2 hits, 1 run, 5 strikeouts, 1 walk in 2.1 innings.
Heber Springs hitters — Garrett Hudspeth single, double, 1 RBI, 1 stolen base; Cole Payton triple, 2 RBIs; J.T. Spears single, 1 RBI; Kenan Sneed single; Xander Lindley 1 RBI; Corbin Jones 1 RBI.
Heber Springs pitchers — J.T Spears (L) 7 hits, 8 runs, 7 earned runs, 4 strikeouts, 1 walk in 5.1 innings; Corbin Jones 1 hit, 1 strikeout in 1.2 inning.
 

Panthers, May claim first win

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

Monteri0 May will never forget his first win as head baseball coach at Heber Springs High School.

Garrett Hudspeth pitched the final two innings and hit a bloop single to drive home the winning run in the bottom of the eighth as the Panthers defeated Pottsville 8-7 in a 4-4A Conference game at the Heber Springs Sports Complex.

Hudspeth struck out five batters with one walk in relief of starter J.T. Spears.

Heber Springs picked up its first win in three games. The Panthers lost to conference foe Morrilton in the season opener and to Clinton in non-conference play.

Heber Springs loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the eighth. Kenan Sneed hit a groundball against a drawn-in infield and Matthew Cook, who started the inning with a single, was thrown out at the plate for the second out.

Hudspeth hit a blooper behind second base that Pottsville shortstop Matthew Moore failed to catch as Xander Lindley scored from third base.

“We will take it anyway we can,” May said. “I told the players before the game we were going to fight every pitch, win every inning and let the outcome play out. I’m proud of how these guys completed with dedication every day. It paid off in this game.”

Heber Springs struggled at the plate during Thursday’s game at Clinton, and May challenged his team to reverse that trend.

“We want to swing through every pitch and try and stay away from check swings,” May said. “We wanted to put the ball in play. We struck out too much against Clinton and wanted to reduce that.”

Spears allowed seven hits and seven runs (one earned run) and struck out six batters in six innings.

“J.T. first met me in January and told said he had been working on pitching for the last year,” May said. “He said that he was going to be one of our best pitchers. He showed that in this game. I told him if he could throw strikes, he could become a good pitcher. We didn’t play great defense behind him, but he kept battling.”

May hoped to get five or six innings from Spears and then give the ball to Hudspeth.

“I told Garrett earlier in the day he will close out the game and be the leader that his teammates think he is,” May said.

Pottsville built a 4-1 lead by scoring one run in the top of the first inning and three runs in the second.

Heber Springs responded with three runs in its half of the second inning. The Panthers loaded the bases with one out as Cook scored from third base on an error. Spears then came home on an infield out. Lindley scored on Sneed’s RBI single to left field.

Pottsville increased its lead to 5-3 in the third inning.

Heber Springs led for the first time by scoring four runs in the bottom of the fourth. Conner Riddle scored on a bases-loaded walk to Cole Payton. Cook hit a 2-run single, scoring Sneed and Hudspeth, as the Panthers led, 6-5. Payton later came home on an error.

Pottsville tied the game at 7-7 in the fifth.

“This was a good win,” May said. “The field was wet and more rain was starting to come down. We hope to build on this and keep rolling along.”

Heber Springs (1-1 conference, 1-2 overall) is scheduled to play at Clarksville on Tuesday and return home to host Dardanelle on Friday in conference games.    

Pottsville 131 020 00–7 7 5
Heber Springs 030 400 01–8 9 4
Pottsville hitters — Aiden Owens single, double 1 RBI; Zach Gray single, double; Cade Linker double, 2 RBIs; Easton Stevens single 1 stolen base.
Pottsville pitchers — Matthew Moore 5 hits, 7 earned runs, 4 strikeouts, 5 walks in 4.2 innings; Jacob McCurry 2 hits, 0 runs, 3 strikeouts, 1 walk in 1 inning; Caden Caruthers 2 hits, 1 earned run, 2 strikeouts, 1 walk in 1.2 inning.
Heber Springs hitters — Matthew Cook 2 singles, 2 RBIs, 1 stolen base; Garrett Hudspeth single, 1 RBI; Kenan Sneed single, 1 RBI; Conner Riddle single, 1 RBI; John McBroome single; Gage Buford single; J.T. Spears single; Xander Lindley single; Cole Payton 1 RBI.
Heber Springs pitchers — J.T. Spears 7 hits, 7 runs, 1 earned run, 6 strikeouts in 6 innings; Garrett Hudspeth (W, 1-0) 0 hits, 0 runs, 5 strikeouts, 1 walk in 2 innings.

Trojans keep Panthers winless in conference play

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

The quest continues for the Heber Springs Panthers to win their first 4-4A Conference basketball game this season.

Heber Springs trailed by six points after the first quarter. But Subiaco Academy pulled away with a 20-9 second-quarter scoring run and defeated the Panthers 72-35 at the Panther Den on Friday.

Ivan Martijn, Matthew Kremers and Jonathan Mersara combined to score 58 of the 72 points for the Trojans. Martijn led the charge with 25 points. Matthew Kremers scored 17 points and Jonathan Mersara had 16 points.

Conner Riddle was the leading scorer for Heber Springs with 17 points.

Subiaco Academy started the game with 10 unanswered points. Logan Monahan’s jumper stopped the scoring run and put the Panthers on the scoreboard. Heber Springs finished the first quarter by outscoring the Trojans 9-5 and trailed 15-9 going into the second quarter.

An 8-0 scoring run by Subiaco Academy during the second quarter helped the Trojans recapture the momentum. Subiaco Academy maintained the advantage, outscoring the Panthers 12-10 for a 35-19 halftime lead.

The Trojans dominated and outscored Heber Springs 37-16 during the second half.

The Panthers (0-9 in conference, 1-19 overall) will play at Dardanelle on Tuesday.

Subiaco Academy 15 20 29 8–72
Heber Springs 9 10 16 0–35
Subiaco Academy scorers — Ivan Martijn 25, Matthew Kremers 17, Jonathan Mersara 16, Emre Gurel 5, Jeadan Nieveld 3, Jackson Fredrick 4, Conner King 2.
Heber Springs scorers — Conner Riddle 17, Ryan Crocker 7, J.T. Spears 6, Logan Monahan 5.

Panthers battle Clarksville late

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

The Heber Springs Panthers trailed by 16 points early in the third quarter, but didn’t go away with a battle late in the fourth quarter against Clarksville.

Heber Springs rallied within five points, but the Panthers’ comeback bid came up short in the 68-51 loss to Clarksville in a 4-4A Conference basketball game at the Panther Den Tuesday.

“The players played well during the fourth quarter,” Heber Springs coach Dusty West said. “We made shots, played with more intensity and made it a two-possession game. We couldn’t get the defensive stop.”

Clarksville led by 16 points with five minutes left in the third quarter. Heber Springs stayed close and pulled to within 46-34 going into the fourth quarter.
The Panthers reduced Clarksville’s lead to single digits on Ryan Crocker’s 3-pointer 53-45 with six minutes left in the game. Two minutes later, Conner Riddle drove and scored as Heber Springs trailed 55-50 with 3:53 to go. Clarksville finished the game on a 13-1 scoring run.

Riddle led the Panthers with 22 points, followed by Crocker’s 16 points. Owen Ashlock scored a game-high 27 points for Clarksville. John Case, who hit three 3-pointers, had 16 points. Hunter Buss, who made four 3-pointers, added 12 points.

“The players still are giving great effort and doing good things,” West said. “We’re trying to get over that hump during the fourth quarter. Conner played well, along with Ryan during the fourth quarter. The team tends to play better when Ryan plays well. We need him to play with more confidence and get going for the entire game.”

Clarksville emerged from a low-scoring first quarter with an 11-5 lead. The Panthers fell behind by double digits during the second quarter, but they remain within range and trailed 26-14 at halftime.

Heber Springs played even during the third quarter and trailed 46-34 going into the fourth quarter.

Clarksville’s 3-point shooting proved to be too much for the Panthers to overcome.

“We knew they could shoot the threes,” West said. “No. 33 (Ashlock) worried us and we focused on containing him. Clarksville deserves credit for making the 3-point shots.”

Heber Springs (0-5 in conference, 1-15 overall) will play at Pottsville on Friday.

“We will be playing another good team,” West said. “The players still have a lot of fight left.”

Clarksville 11 15 20 22–68
Heber Springs 5   9 20 17–51
Clarksville scorers —  Owen Ashlock 27, John Case 16, Hunter Buss 12, Ryan Clark 6, Cody Qualls 4, Abel Dean 3.
Heber Springs scorers — Conner Riddle 22, Ryan Crocker 16, Logan Monahan 8, J.T. Spears 3, Bauer Pruitt 2.