The Mounties will enter the Class 7A state tournament red-hot, having won 10 of their last 12 games and seven straight conference games. A big reason for the recent success is their starting pitching.
Rogers (15-11) will be the No. 5 seed from the 7A-West and play Conway, the No. 4 seed from the 7A-Central at noon Thursday at Bentonville West. The Wampus Cats are 15-8 overall with a lone game against Bryant on Friday left on their schedule.
Sophomore right-hander McKaden Templeton and senior righty Mason Mitchell have formed a nice 1-2 punch on the mound, helping the Mounties to seven consecutive conference wins. Mitchell was inserted as the game 2 starter and reeled off four consecutive wins. He has allowed just four earned runs over 26 2/3 innings of work to go with 27 strikeouts and only two walks.
Templeton has been strong from the start, going 5-2 with 0.92 ERA in 59 2/3 innings. He’s struck out 62 and walked only 19. Templeton is also among team leaders in run production, too, with 16 RBIs.
Freshman Matthew Watson has also emerged as a closer, notching three saves in three chances. He has also struck out 31 in 24 2/3 innings of work.
Seniors Luke McFadden, Grayson Lee and Max Horton have also been big with the bat. McFadden leads the team with a .390 batting average and 21 runs scored. Lee has a .349 average and has a team-best 21 RBIs. Horton has also driven in 15 runs.
The final game of the conference season will determine the position in which Har-Ber (18-9) enters next week’s state tournament. A win and the Wildcats are the 7A-West’s 3-seed. Lose and they’re a 4.
Har-Ber goes into today’s game at Rogers Heritage at 9-4 in the league, a half-game ahead of Van Buren in the standings. But Van Buren owns the tiebreaker after sweeping the Wildcats last week by 8-4 and 2-1 scores.
Caleb Grace hit a two-run home run – his team-leading third of the year – in the home second Tuesday in Har-Ber’s 11-4 win against the War Eagles on Senior Day. Kolby Arnold recorded four RBI in a 2-for-2 day while two others – Blaze Brothers, Lincoln Rasmussen – tallied a pair of RBI.
Blake Adams got the start for the Wildcats and dominated in 4.2 innings, striking out eight and allowing just one base hit. Adams improved to 7-2 for the season and dropped his earned run average to 1.33.
– Scottie Bordelon • @NWAScottie
The Red’Dogs (12-15) closed out the regular season with five consecutive losses, but are firmly in the state tournament field as the conference’s 6-seed at 4-10.
Springdale will face either Bryant or North Little Rock in the first round of the playoffs. Bryant and North Little Rock have allowed the fewest runs in the 7A-Central. The Hornets give up, on average, two runs per game through 13 games; North Little Rock gives up 2.1 per game.
Springdale starter Andrew Roach went 6.1 innings, gave up seven hits, eight runs – two earned – and struck out seven in his final outing in conference play. The Red’Dogs, again, struggled in the field with four errors.
Roach, though, went 2-for-3 at the plate with a double and drove in a pair of runs. Roach threw first-pitch strikes to 20 of 33 batters he faced in the loss.
– Scottie Bordelon • @NWAScottie
Although both the 7A-Central and 7A-West still has games to play before all of the seedings are finalized, the Purple’Dogs have an idea of who they’ll play to open the 7A state tournament.
Fayetteville (16-13) won the 7A-West Conference championship outright with an 11-3 record to earn a first-round bye in the state tournament. It will play at noon on May 12 at Bentonville West against the winner of the first-round game between Conway and Rogers High. The Wampus Cats (15-8, 8-5) are the No. 4 seed from the Central while the Mounties are locked in as the No. 5 seed from the West.
The seven-time state champion Purple’Dogs are two wins away from reaching the state championship game. They’ve displayed the timely hitting and pitching to make a run with starters Miller Pleimann and Hayes Cox along with Jackson Sloan and Jacob and Luke Davenport, among others. Which starter pitches the opener remains to be seen, and it could depend on the opponent.
Fayetteville shutout Rogers High twice this season, including a 1-0 win in nine innings behind a brilliant performance by Pliemann on April 3. The Purple’Dogs won 6-0 the following day with Cox pitching a complete-game shutout. Although they played a game at Conway High this season (a 2-1 loss against Germantown (Tenn.) Houston), they haven’t faced the Wampus Cats, last year’s state runner-up.
Before the state tourney begins, Fayetteville has a final nonconference tuneup when it plays Kansas City Rockhurst at noon Saturday in Bentonville. It’ll be a nice test to play a noon game in Bentonvillle considering the start time and city are the same as its state tourney opener.
— Mike Capshaw • @NWACappy