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Offensive explosion propels Farmington past Springdale Har-Ber in Randy Osnes' return

A three-run homer by Mallory Sills sealed the victory for Farmington over Springdale Har-Ber

As thrilled as Jason Shirey was moments after his Farmington Lady Cardinals scored seven runs to defeat Springdale Har-Ber on Saturday, he also felt the heartbreak for his great friend and mentor, Randy Osnes, whose name is painted to the right of the wall those home runs crossed over. 

Farmington head coach Jason Shirey warming up with his team during the Farmington Tournament as junior Mallory Sills watches. Sills hit the go-ahead, three-run home run against Springdale Har-Ber that secured the 8-6 win for the Lady Cardinals in the final. (Photo by Kyle Sutherland)

Farmington head coach Jason Shirey warming up with his team during the Farmington Tournament as junior Mallory Sills watches. Sills hit the go-ahead, three-run home run against Springdale Har-Ber that secured the 8-6 win for the Lady Cardinals in the final. (Photo by Kyle Sutherland)

"He is a great friend," Shirey said of Osnes, who won three state titles while leading Farmington for 25 years. "I think one of the things that people do not understand is how difficult it is. 

"As excited as I am with our group right now, I know how disappointed he is. If you care about somebody then you do not want that."

Down 6-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning of the Farmington Tournament's final round, Morgan Uher smacked a three-run homer to left field to cut Har-Ber's lead to two runs. Singles by Amia Carr and Justine Davidson brought Mallory Sills to the plate, and sent what would be the walk-off home run over the center field wall. The game was then called due to the one hour and forty five minute time limit expiring, which gave Farmington (3-1) an 8-6 win and the tournament championship. 

Osnes was hired by his friend, Springdale Schools Athletic Director Keith Fimple, last summer to return to coaching after retiring from Farmington following the 2020-21 school year. He is one of the state's all-time greats on the diamond, leading the Lady Cardinals to state championships in 2000, 2005 and 2011, plus runner-up finishes in 2001-03, then again in 2018-19.

Around the time Osnes retired – for the first time – in the spring of 2021, Farmington's field was named in his honor. He came up just short of winning the tournament he helped start in his first return to where he is forever enshrined, but did notch his 600th career victory in the opening round 7-1 win over Prairie Grove – Farmington's arch rival that Osnes has seen many times before.

"Here is the deal," Osnes said. "You know as well as I do after all these years that we had great players here (Farmington), as well as at Har-Ber, and it is all about them."

Osnes also mentioned that he initially thought he would have the opportunity to achieve it with his Lady Wildcats (9-2) as the home team. It turns out, they ended up as the visitor in the "smaller" dugout.

"Well, I am going to tell you – it is karma," Osnes said. "When we built this field, we built this (visitor) dugout smaller on purpose. I assumed we would be the home team (in this game) getting the third base dugout, but, of course that is Prairie Grove for you.

"We came over here, did the best we could, scored seven (runs) and we are happy with the win. Kids did what they needed to do to win the ball game."

Between working as an assistant at the University of Arkansas and a long tenure at Fayetteville High where he won two state titles, Shirey worked under Osnes during those finals runs in 2001-02. They actually started the Farmington Tournament together over two decades ago and Osnes continued doing it when Shirey went to Fayetteville

Six of the eight teams that played on Friday and Saturday are currently in the SBLive Arkansas Super 7 rankings. Along with Farmington and Har-Ber, the representing squads were Bentonville West, Farmington Red (JV team), Gravette, Hackett, Lincoln and Prairie Grove.

Farmington alum Samantha Luther Leads Gravette to Third Place Finish

Defending 4A state champion Gravette (4-2) dominated Bentonville West (7-3) in the third-place game, powered by a dominant third inning in which the Lady Lions scored 10 runs. 

Luther, a 2010 graduate of Farmington, played for Osnes during her prep career before going on to play in college. Osnes got win No. 601 against Luther and Gravette. Gravette's 4-1 loss to the Lady Wildcats was sandwiched between wins over Lincoln, then West. 

"It was definitely different sharing the field with him and not being his player," Luther said. "I was obviously a little nervous, but it was an honor."

Osnes is also credited by Luther as the reason she went into coaching.

"The way he impacted my life when I was playing for him made me want to do the same for young ladies," Luther continued. "Of all the coaches I had, even in college, he taught me the most; How important it is to have a genuine relationship with your players, to earn their respect and trust in you as a coach leading by example. 

"We still talk all the time, mainly me asking him how to handle certain situations. He is my mentor and I do not know where I would be in my coaching career without him."

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Brinkley Moreton and Lincoln Aiming to Get Back to Full Health

Spring break could not have come any faster for Lincoln. 

The Lady Wolves (9-6) went to an out-of-state tournament this time last year, but are staying put to rest up for their conference doubleheader with Bergman on March 25.

They fought over the weekend, finishing 1-2 that included a 5-0 win over Prairie Grove and they also stayed within a run of defending 4A state champion and top-ranked Gravette. 

One of the nagging injuries is junior pitcher/third baseman Brinkley Moreton, a Mississippi State commit who is among the nation's elite prospects. Moreton made her decision to join the Bulldogs in late November and it took a load off of her shoulders getting the recruiting part of the game behind her.

"There is a lot less pressure, especially in the summer time (playing travel ball) because of all of the college coaches that are around," Moreton said. "Now I can just kind of relax and do my own thing, while also having fun and playing."

Moreton injured her hip during the previous weekend's Chelsea Riley Colburn Tournament in Russellville. Despite being in obvious discomfort on Friday evening, she gutted through a complete game performance and gave up seven hits, but walked only two and struck out six batters. Moreton also surpassed 600 career strikeouts in just over two varsity seasons during the tournament.

"I am really proud of my girls for coming back to put some runs on the board, and of myself for being able to fight through being hurt," Moreton said. "We did not do good every inning, but it is good just knowing that my team can and will have my back."

Moreton pitched two innings in relief during the final game, a 5-0 loss to Hackett, but was the most effective in the circle for the Lady Wolves as she struck out four batters. She also collected three hits at the plate, including two triples against Prairie Grove.

The top-seeded Wolves were upset 9-5 by four-seed Glen Rose in the first round of last year's 3A state tournament and their game plan was simple – do not give Moreton a chance to do damage with her bat. She did score two runs out of getting on base four times, but it all trips were via an intentional walk. 

Coming into the Farmington Tournament Moreton had been walked 14 times in the young season, but it is not something that crosses her mind often.

"I know I have been walked several times, but I really have not thought about it a lot," Moreton said. "I do not feel like teams are doing it just to do it, some are and some aren't, but I think a lot of the times I just try to go out there and hit the crap out of the ball. 

"It is really just about me being a big leader, having energy and pitching well."

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Head coach Anthony Cantrell 


Bryley Bratcher, Springdale Har-Ber

The sophomore went a combined 4-for-6 with two runs scored, plus another batted in and stole a base in Har-Ber's contests against Farmington and Springdale Har-Ber.

Morgan Coryell, Hackett 

The junior went a combined 4-for-7 with two runs scored, two doubles and a triple in contests against Bentonville West and Lincoln.

Justine Davidson, Farmington 

Along with multiple clutch defensive plays at third base in both of Farmington's wins, the Utah State signee went 3-for-3 in the championship round against Springdale Har-Ber, scoring one run and batting in another. 

Cyarah Dotts, Springdale Har-Ber 

The freshman did some good things in the circle against Gravette, striking out three batters in a complete game effort, while also going a combined 4-for-7 at the plate with two runs batted against Prairie Grove and Gravette. 

Keeley Elsea, Gravette 

The Southwest Baptist University signee went a combined 4-for-6 with two runs scored, three RBIs and a double in win wins over Lincoln and Bentonville West. 

Makenzie Freeman, Hackett

The Tulsa University commit tossed a no-hitter with eight strikeouts in Hackett's shutout win over Lincoln and she also went 2-for-3 with a double, along with striking out nine batters, in the loss to Bentonville West. 

Brinkley Moreton, Lincoln

The Mississippi State commit went a combined 3-for-6 in games against Gravette and Prairie Grove, including two triples and batted two runs in. Moreton also pitched nine innings over two games and struck out 10 batters.

Z Palmer, Springdale Har-Ber

The junior went 6-for-10 in Har-Ber's three contests, that included a double, plus scored two runs and she batted in another three.

Angelina Petersen, Prairie Grove

The sophomore was a bright spot for the Lady Tigers at the plate, finishing a combined 4-for-6 with two doubles against Har-Ber and Lincoln.

Anniston Reith, Springdale Har-Ber

The South Alabama commit finished 2-4 with three RBIs, a double and a home run in Har-Ber's 7-1 win over Prairie Grove. 

Brynn Romine, Gravette

The Missouri State signee went a combined 6-for-8 at the plate with two runs scored and two RBIs in wins over Lincoln and Bentonville West. 

Madi Schoonover, Gravette

The sophomore smashed a home run in Gravette's win over Lincoln. 

Reese Shirey, Farmington 

The Northeastern Oklahoma State basketball signee combined to go 4-for-7 with two RBIs, plus stole a base, in Farmington's wins over Bentonville West and Springdale Har-Ber. 

Mallory Sills, Farmington 

The junior hit the three-run home run to center field that ultimately won Farmington the game and tournament championship in the 8-6 victory over Springdale Har-Ber. 

Olivia Thornton, Bentonville West

The senior hit a home run in West's loss to Farmington. 

Morgan Uher, Farmington 

The Ouachita Baptist University commit hit one of the two fifth inning three-run homers that led to Farmington's comeback 8-6 victory over Springdale Har-Ber. 


(Photos by Kyle Sutherland)

-- Kyle Sutherland | | @k_sutherlandAR