Yellow Softball

Taylor won its fourth consecutive Arkansas Class 1A state softball championship, stopping Sacred Heart 15-5 in a six-inning run-rule route.

Madison Morton, the Tigers’ game-winning pitcher, was the championship’s Most Valuable Player for Coach Adam Camp’s squad.

Taylor (24-4) scored three runs in the top of the first and never looked back. Carly Downs beat a throw to first and went to third on a single by Morton. Heidi May’s sacrifice fly brought Downs home, and Madison Lindsey drove Morton home on a double. Maggie McHenry sent Lindsey home on a single.

Sacred Heart of Morrilton (19-9) got one run in the first from McKenzie Greeson, the Rebels’ pitcher.

The Tigers collected four more runs in the second inning. Makayla Downs knocked a double to left center field. Carly Downs hit to left field. Madison Morton drove both Downs home with a double off the wall in center field. Heidi May hit to Greeson but still beat the throw to first. A Lindsey triple sent May to home.

The Rebels stranded one runner in the second.

Kendall McClendon hit a stand-up double for Taylor in the third but she was also stranded as the Tigers led 7-1.

Sacred Heart scored two runs in the third from Shelby Pettingill and Halen Hoeleman.

Taylor loaded the bases in the fourth but could manage only one run. Maggie McHenry hit high and deep to center. She was out but pinch runner Jaslyn Rich easily made it home from third base.

Sacred Heart rallied for a couple of runs in the fourth when Halen Hoeleman’s bouncing single through the infield and shallow center field drove Sydney Briggler and Greeson home, making the score 8-5.

Taylor loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth. Makayla Downs walked and Reese Fowler went in as a pinch runner. Carly Downs bunted and made first base. Morton walked on four balls and Rich stepped in to run for her. Heidi May hit a two-run single to clear Fowler and Downs. Rich went to third on a loose ball. Lauren Leonard walked. Leslie Goodner walked to bring Rich home. McClendon hit a two-run single and Taylor led 13-5.

Morton sat Sacred Heart’s runners down in order in the bottom of the fifth.

Taylor’s final runs came in the sixth. Carly Downs hit a single, and a Morton double sent Downs to third. Heidi May hit a two-run single for the 15-5 score.

In the bottom of the sixth, Carly Downs threw to Maggie McHenry at first to put out Briggler. Morton struck out Lizzy Beck, which was Morton’s fifth strikeout of the game. Greeson hit to Morton in the circle, and an easy Morton-to-McHenry toss ended the game.

Taylor's 15 runs came on 17 hits and no errors. Sacred Heart had seven hits and two errors.

Taylor now has a four-season string of Class 1A titles, including 2017, 2018 and 2019. There was no championship in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The game was played at the Benton Athletic Complex and was televised on Arkansas PBS. The game video will be available on the Arkansas PBS You Tube channel next week.

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