Lonoke’s Lady Rabbits must beat Harrisburg on Thursday in the Class 4A East Softball Regional at Trumann to move on to next week’s Class 4A State Tournament at Lonoke.
Laura Park’s team (13-14) is the fourth seed from the 2-4A. Harrisburg (17-8) is the top seed from the 3-4A.
“I really don’t know much about them right now other than they’re a good, strong seed,” Park said. “I don’t believe they were No. 1 in their conference, but they beat a very good Pocahontas team in their tournament.”
The Lonoke-Harrisburg winner will advance to Friday’s 2:30 p.m. semifinal against the survivor of Stuttgart, second from the 2, and Brookland, third from the 3.
The top half of the bracket includes Heber Springs, first from the 2, against Pocahontas, fourth from the 3; and Trumann, second from the 3, against Southside Batesville, third from the 2.
The championship is set for 2:30 p.m. Saturday with the third-place game scheduled for noon.
Lonoke will try to return to the state tournament for the first time since 2015, when the Lady Rabbits lost to eventual champion Mena in the first round.
In the 2-4A District Tournament last week, Lonoke qualified for the regional by beating Baptist Prep in the opening round, 16-5. In the semifinals, the Lady Rabbits lost to Stuttgart, 7-1, after falling behind 5-1 after three innings.
In the third-place game, Lonoke fell to Southside Batesville, 3-0.
Park called the Lady Rabbits’ district tournament showing “a true team effort.”
“In the win over Baptist, everybody’s bats were good, and we were hitting well,” she said. “But then we were off Wednesday, and then Thursday and Friday, we couldn’t get our bats going. We’d get a few hits but they’d go straight to somebody for a routine play.
“But they’re a great group of girls, and they try hard. I’m glad we made it to regionals, but I really thought we could win it. I really hope we can get it together starting Thursday.”