‘Super Tuesday’ for Heber Springs softball

Heber Springs pitcher Nicole Rackley delivers a pitch against White County Central on Monday. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

March 3, 2020


Nicole Rackley went two-for-three at the plate and struck out in nine in relief as Heber Springs defeated White County Central, 13-2, on Tuesday.

Heber Springs improved to 2-0 on the young season and won back-t0-back games for the first time since the 2017 season.

The Panthers trailed 2-0 after the Bears plated two runs off Heber Springs starter Madison Clemons before the freshman gave way to Rackley in the second inning.

Clemons struggled in her second start of the season walking four, allowing one hit while striking out two.

“She is going to be in the circle a majority of the year,” Heber Springs coach Dusty West. “She is just getting these first-game jitters out of the way. She’s going to be fine. She has all of the tools that we need out there.”

Clemons also struggled on Monday in the Panthers opener at Maumelle as the Hornets plated eight runs before also giving way to Rackley.

The senior came on in relief on Monday against the Hornets and scattered one run and eight strikeouts over six innings of work as Heber Springs plated five in the fifth, four in the sixth and six in the seventh to claim the win, 16-9.

“I’ve been really happy with Nicole Rackley coming in a as a senior,” West said. “Kinda playing a back-up role in the pitching realm and doing great.

“The last two nights been really proud of Nicole. She’s come in in relief and given up only one run in two games. She’s been a monster on the mound for us.”

Rackley struck out the side in the top of the second before Heber Springs gave her the lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.

Ninth-grader Hope Turney led off the inning by reaching on a walk, taking second on a sacrifice bunt by Adyson Curtis and touching home on an RBI double down the right-field line by freshman Anna Carroll.

Heber Springs catcher Gentry Hamilton. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

Carroll would touch home after a wild pitch while freshman Jaylea Hooten would score the third run on the inning later after following Carroll with a walk, taking third on the passed ball that scored the Panthers second run and scoring on an RBI ground out off the bat of Gentry Hamilton.

” We put the ball in play and we have good speed this year, and hopefully we’ll use that a lot and small-ball people,” West said. “I am just real proud. First two games of the year, facing live pitching for the first time and to be able to put the bat on ball in play and hit it hard at places, that’s what you are excited about.”

Heber Springs would plate five more in the third. Zoe Monroe and Turney led off the inning with back-to-back singles and both would later score on a single by Carroll.

Carroll and Clemons would touch on a triple by Rackley while Hamilton would drive in Rackley to make it 8-2 Heber Springs after three innings.

“The last two nights we scored a lot of runs, 16 last night and 13 tonight,” West said. “Our bats one through nine have been really solid.”

The Panthers would add five more runs in the fourth as an RBI triple by Curtis and a bases-loaded single by Rackley would plate two more.

“With have only three upperclassman (Rackley, Monroe and Hamilton), a lot of freshmen and sophomores, so it’s always good to start 2-0,” West said. “It’s a good confidence booster for us to get us ready for a conference doubleheader on Monday.

“The three seniors that have been with me for four years, and we are trying to send them out on a good note. They were with me as freshman and we made the state quarterfinals. Our goal is to get them back to the postseason and get these young girls some experiences.”

Carroll paced the Panthers at the plate by going three-for-three with a double, three runs scored and four RBIs.

Heber Springs travels to Sherwood on Thursday to face Sylvan Hills.

“We have got a tough challenge on Thursday,” West said. “We’ll get a quick measuring stick on where we are at.”

The Panthers will open conference Monday against Ozark with a doubleheader in Conway on the University of Central Arkansas campus.

“Getting to play at UCA on the turf in front of college coaches, that is something neat for a girls to do and something we haven’t done in a while,” West said. “We are excited about it.”

Heber Springs was scheduled to face Pottsville on Friday, but because of the state basketball tournament that conference contest will be rescheduled for a later date. Instead, West was able to schedule a junior varsity doubleheader with Batesville at the Heber Springs softball complex. Both games will be five innings.

March 3
White County Central (0-1)  200 00 -  2  2  0
Heber Springs (2-0)         035 5x - 13 11  0
WP - Nicole Rackley (2-0)
LP - Micah Todd (0-1)
HEBER SPRINGS HIGHLIGHTS: Madison Clemons 1-for-1, stolen base, two walks, HBP, two runs scored; Nicole Rackley 2-for-3, triple, run scored, stolen base, two RBIs and HBP; Gentry Hamilton 1-for-4 with an RBI; Zoe Monroe 1-for-2 two runs scored, HBP and stolen base; Brooklyn Barnes, HBP; Hope Turney 1-for-2 with a walk, two runs scored; Adyson Curtis 1-for-2, triple RBI, run scored and stolen base; Anna Carroll 3-for-3 with a double, three runs scored, three runs scored and four RBIs; Jaylea Hooten 1-for-2 with a walk and two runs scored; and Jade Adamson, HBP.
WHITE COUNTY CENTRAL HIGHLIGHTS: Gracie Rogers, walk, stolen base and run scored; Kalista Altom, walk and run scored; Micah Todd, two walks; Jaci Beals 1-for-3 with an RBI; Taryn Blanton, walk; Kendall Talieje 1-for-2, Maliah Litaker, walk.

March 2
Heber Springs (1-0)   010 054 6 - 16
Maumelle (0-1)        801 000 0 -  9
WP - Nicole Rackley (1-0)
LP - Morgan Krebs (0-1)
HEBER SPRINGS HIGHLIGHTS: Madison Clemons, three runs scored; Nicole Rackley, two runs scored; Gentry Hamilton, three runs scored; Brooklyn Barnes, two runs scored; Zoe Monroe, two runs scored; Adyson Curtis, one run; and Jaylea Hooten, three runs scored.
4A-4 RECORD: 0-0
March 2   Heber Springs 16, Maumelle 9
March 3   Heber Springs 13, White County Central 2
March 5   at Sylvan Hills              V/JV      5 p.m.
March 6   Batesville                   JV-DH     4:30 p.m.
March 9   vs. Ozark at UCA *           V DH      4:30 p.m.
March 12  at Riverview                 V/JV      4:30 p.m.
March 13  at Conway St. Joseph         V/JV      4:30 p.m.
March 14  Heber Springs Tournament     V
March 16  at Dover *                   V/JV      4:30 p.m.
March 17  Dardanelle *                 V/JV      4:30 p.m.
March 19  Clinton                      V/JV      5 p.m.
March 30  at Clarksville *             V/JV      4 p.m.
March 31  Morrilton *                  V/JV      4:30 p.m.
April 3   Dover *                      V/JV      4:30 p.m.
April 6   Jacksonville                 V/JV      4:30 p.m.
April 7   at Pottsville *              V/JV      4:30 p.m.
April 13  Cedar Ridge                  V/JV      4:30 p.m.
April 14  at Dardanelle *              V/JV      4:30 p.m.
April 16  at Calico Rock               V/JV      4:30 p.m.
April 20  at Cave City                 V/JV      4 p.m.
April 21  at Morrilton *               V/JV      4:30 p.m.
April 23  at Mayflower                 V/JV      4:30 p.m.
April 27  4A-4 District Tournament at Dover

(* - Indicates 4A-4 Conference Contest)
(Note: Schedule is subject to change due to weather)
(Note: The Heber Springs/Pottsville contest for March 6 will be re-scheduled due to a basketball conflict)

Heber Springs’ girls claim key 4A-4 win over Ozark

Heber Springs’ Mary Shearer and Ozark’s Summer Joy fight for the basketball during 4A-4 action at the Panther Den on Friday. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

December 20, 2019


Improved accuracy at the free-throw line paid dividends for the Heber Springs Lady Panthers at the Panther Den Friday.

The Lady Panthers made 14-of-18 free throws during the fourth quarter and defeated Ozark, 55-42, in a 4-4A Conference basketball game.

Libby Stutts hit 6-of-8 at the free-throw line during the fourth quarter. Ashley Spanel made 4-of-4 and Hailey Bresnahan converted 3-of-4 attempts. Ellie Riddle was 1-of-2 at the line.

The Lady Panthers made 25-of-33 free throws for the game.
Jillian Herring led Heber Springs with 16 points. Ellie Riddle added 11 points and Stutts had 10 points. Carter Crane scored 17 points for Ozark and Mary-Grace Ree had 10 points.

“Our free-throw shooting was very big in winning the game,” coach Jamey Riddle said. “We had not been shooting free throws well. We also did what was needed during the final three games to win. We outplayed them in the last three quarters.”

Heber Springs switched its full-court press at the start of the second quarter and it led to success.

The Panther trailed 13-8 after the first quarter and reduced it to 22-19 by halftime.

“The full-court press we started was not working and I decided to make a change,” Riddle said. “We contained them better and kept the ball from Ozark’s big girl. We wanted to speed up the game.”

Heber Springs tied the game at 24-24 two minutes into the third quarter on a 3-pointer by Herring.

The Lady Panthers, who outscored Ozark 20-7 during the third quarter, gained a double digit lead and took a 39-29 lead into the fourth quarter.

Ellie Riddle and Claudia Newberry committed their fourth personal fouls late in the third quarter, but strong play off the bench helped to increase the lead. Riddle and Newberry returned with two minutes to play in the game.

“Mary Shearer has a lot of playing time and a senior that you can count on playing well,” Jamey Riddle said. “She goes hard for rebounds and does what we need to help the team succeed. Hailey gave us good minutes, made free throws and got defensive rebounds.”

Riddle also credited Herring and Stutts, especially for their play during the fourth quarter.

“Libby and Jillian waited for their time and got good shots in the fourth quarter,” Riddle said. “We were able to create one-on-one opportunities for them to drive.”

Heber Springs (2-0 in conference, 9-2 overall) is one of three teams (Morrilton and Clarksville) undefeated in conference play.

“We had to win at home because it will be tough at Ozark,” Riddle said. “We must win the home games. We got a big road win at Dover.”

Heber Springs will return to action at 6:30 p.m. Thursday against DeWitt at the Steve Landers Chevorlet-Heber Springs Holiday Tournament.

“We didn’t play well at the St. Joseph Tournament and hope to play well at our tournament,” Riddle said. “We will take the approach of a end-of-the-season tournament. We would like to win the tournament.”

On Dec. 16, Heber Springs traveled to White County Central and came away with a 51-31 nonconference victory.

Heber Springs led 30-14 at the half and 41-23 at the end of three quarters.

Ellie Riddle (13) and Claudia Newberry (11) each finished double figures in scoring for the Panthers.

December 20 vs. Ozark
Ozark         13  9  7 13 - 42
Heber Springs  8 11 20 16 - 55
OZARK SCORING (42): Carter Crane 17, Mary-Grace Ree 10, Kelsee Barnett 5, Briley Burns 4, Summer Joy 3, Tanner Richard 3.  
HEBER SPRINGS SCORING (55): Jillian Herring 16, Ellie Riddle 11, Libby Stutts 10, Ashley Spanel 5, Hailey Bresnahan 5, Claudia Newberry 4, Mary Shearer 4.  

December 16 at White County Central
White County Central  8 6  9  8 - 31
Heber Springs        21 9 11 10 - 51
WHITE COUNTY CENTRAL SCORING (31): Jaidyn Koerdt 6, Abigail Mullins 6, Makayla Baker 5, Hailey Jackson 4, Ashlyn Mullins 4, Destiny Clark 4, Kalista Altom 2
HEBER SPRINGS SCORING (51): Ellie Riddle 13, Claudia Newberry 11, Jillian Herring 9, Ashley Spanel 7, Libby Stutts 6, Hailey Bresnahan 2, Kylie Carr 2, LiLi Chaney 1.
4A-4 RECORD: 2-0
November 12 - Heber Springs 55, Nemo Vista 31
November 19 - Heber Springs 70, South Side Bee Branch 45
November 21 - Heber Springs 67, Riverview 27
November 26 - Heber Springs 56, Clinton 54 (OT)
December 3 - Conway St. Joseph 47, Heber Springs 44 #
December 5 - Heber Springs 53, South Side Bee Branch 34 #
December 7 - Heber Springs 44, Wonderview 43 #
December 10 - Heber Springs 59, Dover 56 ^
December 13 - Marshall 70, Heber Springs 52
December 16 - Heber Springs 51, White County Central 31
December 20 - Heber Springs 55, Ozark 42 ^
December 26 - Heber Springs vs. DeWitt *
December 27 - Cowboy Chevrolet Holiday Classic
December 28 - Cowboy Chevrolet Holiday Classic
January 7 - Pottsville ^
January 9 - at Newport
January 14 - Dardanelle ^
January 17 - at Clarksville ^
January 21 - Morrilton ^
January 24 - Dover ^
January 28 - at Pottsville ^
January 31 - at Ozark ^
February 4 - at Dardanelle ^
February 11 - at Morrilton ^
February 14 - Clarksville (Senior Night) ^
February 17 - 4A-4 District at Dardanelle

(# - Denotes Conway St. Joseph Tournament)
(^ - Denotes 4A-4 conference contest)
(* - Denotes Steve Landers' Cowboy Chevrolet Holiday Tournament at Heber Springs)