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O’Kelley, Airedales rally for win- 3/30/21

By Kevin Taylor

Alma Schools 


Chandler O'Kelley wasn't necessarily buried on Alma coach Brian Fry's pitching depth chart. 


But he wasn't exactly in the conversation, either. 


He may be now, though. 


O'Kelley threw five spotless innings and Lane Gates struck out all three batters he faced Monday as Alma rallied for an 8-6 win over Ozark. 


"He'll (O'Kelley) throw strikes for us, and that's all we were looking for," Fry said. "He kept his composure and threw strikes; he grew up a lot today."


O'Kelley was the beneficiary of his team's five-run sixth that gave the Airedales their fourth victory in six home games. 


O'Kelley's career-long five effort required just 39 pitches to obtain 15 outs. He benefited from two double plays, including a nifty 5-4-3 twin-killing that helped the Airedales escape a no-out, bases-loaded inning jam in the second. 


O'Kelley got through the third on just four pitches. He walked only one and overcame his own throwing error that led to a sixth-inning unearned run. 


"It made me feel really good because I had a good team behind me," O’Kelley said. "None of those plays would have happened without people behind me making plays."


"I hated to take him out, but we were down two going into the sixth, and I pinch-hit for him and Cameron (Ray) comes off the bench and does his job," Fry said. "Then Lane comes in with a two-run lead and he fills it up."


Down 6-3 in the sixth, Ray opened the inning with a hard single to right. Mills followed with a double to deep center. 


Back-to-back walks to Logan Taylor and Lucas Hayes scored pinch-runner Nathan Machen with the fourth run. Derek Hatcher was hit by a pitch to force home the fifth run. 


Freshman Branson Brogan then hit a grounder to short that led to two runs when Ozark's Nathan Gibbons made an errant throw to second. 


Now up 7-6, Alma added an insurance run on Jacob Machen's sacrifice fly. 


Junior Chandler O’Kelley (3) delivers a pitch during the Airedales’ 8-6 win over Ozark Monday.

Gates then struck out the side in the seventh to preserve Alma's comeback. 


"It feels really good," O’Kelley said of the Airedales' victory. "I'm really just speechless right now."


For Alma, which resumes 5A-West play this week at Siloam Springs, Monday's victory was a reprieve following a hard-luck weekend in Little Rock that saw the Airedales outscored 38-3 while losing to Sylvan Hills, Little Rock Christian, and Greene County Tech.


"Maybe this weekend they learned how to pitch a little bit," Fry said. "Hopefully those guys can continue to throw strikes and move the ball around."


Alma 16, Waldron 0 


SOFTBALL — Shelbi Hesson had three doubles and four RBIs and Alma scored 12 runs in the third inning on its way to a 16-0 thrashing of the Waldron Bulldogs. 


Eight of the nine starters had at least one RBI in the team's victory. Winning pitcher Jacklyn Petree drove in two runs and pitched her second perfect game of the season. 


Petree no-hit Huntsville on March 4.


Bailey Webb had three hits, including a triple. Makinzie Erwin, Taelynn Perry, Makenzie Martin, and Kelsey Shepherd had two hits apiece for the winners. Martin and Erwin drove in two runs apiece. 


Abigail Smith and Jocelyn Harless also hit safely for the winners (5-4). Martin and Hesson scored three runs apiece.