Quick Notes from the Class 1A-4A Baseball Regional Tournaments

The 2024 baseball season is nearing its end as teams are looking to play their best ball of the season when it matters the most. As with every year, weather is going to play a key role in the outcome of the state tournaments just as it did for regionals. Here are a few things that caught stood out last week in the regional tournaments in every classification.

Here are some of the top headlines from all regional tournaments as state tournaments are on the verge of getting underway. 

For even more in-depth analysis, subscribe to Arkansas Preps Weekly on YoutubeAppleSpotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

4A

  • Lonoke it still the top dog. They faced some adversity in the opener against Westside, but it was never in doubt. Steele Eaves is the most dominant arm in 4A, and it showed with a 15 strikeout performance against Westside, plus he got the save against Robinson. The bye will help them because they can go Eaves, then Jaxson Ingle, and beat about anyone.
  • The 4A-North produced the biggest surprises of the weekend. Ozark beating Shiloh Christian was an outcome most did not see coming, so kudos to the Hillbillies. They went 2-1 during the tournament to earn the No. 3 seed after beating Farmington 9-0. Prairie Grove made the state tournament last year and received a bye after upsetting No. 2 ranked Morrilton in the regional championship game. The Tigers have a great chance to make the semifinals and may be the odds-on favorite to make the championship game from the top half of the bracket.
  • Apologies to the 4A-8 conference. Last year Stuttgart was the best team in the conference, and they were eliminated in the first round of the regional tournament. This year the conference went 3-1 against the 4A-7 conference with Monticello, Warren and Crossett earning berths to Gravette. Monticello pulled off the upset of 4A-7 champion Nashville winning 2-1 in a pitchers’ duel. The Billies did not stop there as they took down Warren in the semifinals to earn one of the two coveted byes handed out to the South region this year. They will likely face Robinson in the quarterfinals if the Senators can beat Ozark, but wouldn’t it be perfect if we get two teams in the quarterfinals that finished fourth in their conference with Monticello and Ozark?

3A

  • Bismarck got the best performance of the weekend from a pitcher when junior Lucas Chapman carved up Dewitt with 18 punchies en route to a complete game shutout with the Lions winning 1-0 and advancing to the state tournament. Coach Cade Beckwith said Chapman’s fastball has consistently been 86-88 mph all year and he has been their bell cow. Chapman is one of those “under the radar” kids that will get a lot of attention this summer as recruiting picks up for the 2025 class.
  • Harmony Grove (OC) finally punched their ticket to the state tournament after falling short the last two years. The Hornets won their conference for the third consecutive year and were favored to beat Glen Rose in the first round of the 3A-4 regional tournament. Senior Mason Morgan was outstanding on the mound once again racking up 16 strikeouts while Caleb Johnson hit a home run to set the final score at 6-0. HGOC will face a very tough Walnut Ridge team that won the 3A-3 regional championship in convincing fashion 16-1 over Rivercrest.
  • How about them Bearcats?! Booneville won its first regional championship since 2017 and will send three seniors out having won 70 percent of their games. Dax Goff continues to be superman as he belted his eighth home run of the season, along with tossing a complete game in the opening round moving his season record to 5-0 putting him at 15 wins for his career. He hit .625 for the tournament and then finished third in the state weightlifting meet. Rylan Ray also belted his eighth home run of the season last weekend and hit .455. Matt O’Bar fielded 1.000 for the weekend and had a key two-run double. The only thing left for this trip is a state championship.

2A

  • Cedar Ridge (20-10) has the team and the pitching depth to make it to UCA next weekend. A potential path to the championship may be one of the toughest in the field with an opening round game against Palestine-Wheatley, then possibly Mansfield, then a showdown with Woodlawn once again in the semifinals. Aidan Jones and Kyle Provence are two of the best arms in 2A and give the T’Wolves a chance against any opponent.
  • McCrory (18-2) is supposed to be a year away from contending for a state championship but do not tell them that. The Jags outscored their opponents 22-6 enroute to the 2A- North championship. Will Rushing tossed a complete game three-hit shutout in round one against Bay. The bats came alive in the semifinals as McCrory beat Rector 12-5. All they had to do next was defeat 2A-6 conference foe Palestine-Wheatley for the second time in two weeks, which they did 2-1. The Jags scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning and Caden Ayers finished his complete game gem shutting out the Patriots in the seventh inning.
  • A lot has been said about Bigelow and their run over the last three years in every sport of class 2A. The Panthers are in the state championship conversation once again after winning the 2A-Central regional championship. They have won 18 straight games since an opening day loss to St. Joeseph and have found an unlikely ace in Carter Alexander. Alexander signed with UCA as a catcher last fall but has developed into a shutdown ace for coach Craig Neumeier. The Panthers had the baseball gods on their side in the 6-5 semifinal win over Cedar Ridge. After Timberwolves’ pitcher Kyle Provence reached his pitch limit, the Panthers scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning with the last two runs coming from a passed ball. A showdown with Rector awaits them in round one of the state tournament.

1A

  • West Side (Greers Ferry) has the home-field advantage this weekend hosting the state tournament and they will be a contender to make the championship game. The Eagles (24-3) won the 1A-2 regional championship taking down Armorel 2-1 in the championship game. They have the more favorable draw on the bottom half of the bracket. Expect to see them face either Scranton or Nemo Vista in the semifinals.
  • A lot of talk this season has centered around the Taylor Tigers and their quest for a three-peat. While the Tigers are the favorite, the St. Joseph Bulldogs have been the hottest team in Class 1A. They had the fortune of saving their ace Nicholas French until the regional championship game and the lefty did not disappoint. French tossed a one-hit shutout, racking up 10 strikeouts in the 8-0 win over Nemo Vista. Now that Keaton Storie has gotten into pitching shape, he and French are a dynamic duo that could knock off Taylor in the semifinals if everything breaks right for them. The Bulldogs outscored their opponents 40-3 in the regional tournament.
  • Speaking of Taylor, this season has been a lot like last year. A tough non-conference schedule against higher classification and out of state teams, then dominate 1A competition in April and May. The Tigers beat Kirby and Mineral Springs by a combined score of 34-3 before beating Bearden 6-2 in the championship game. Waylon Woodell has been hot down the stretch hitting .625 with four extra base hits in the regional tournament. The senior also scored 8 runs out of the leadoff spot. The Tigers are three games away from playing for their third straight championship and odds are in their favor.

REGIONAL CHAMPIONS

1A-1 – Scranton 11-1 over Jasper

1A-2 – Greers Ferry (West Side) 2-1 over Armorel

1A-3 – St Joseph 8-0 over Nemo Vista

1A-4 – Taylor 6-2 over Bearden

2A-Central – Bigelow 14-4 over Poyen

2A-North – McCrory 2-1 over Palestine-Wheatley

2A-South – Woodlawn 11-2 over Murfreesboro

2A-West – Mansfield 6-2 over Greenland

3A-1 – Booneville 20-1 over Charleston

3A-2 – Walnut Ridge 16-1 over Rivercrest

3A-3 – Harding Academy 10-1 over Central Arkansas Christian

3A-4 – Genoa Central 19-5 over Harmony Grove (Haskell)

4A-East – Lonoke over Joe T. Robinson 6-4

4A-North – Prairie Grove over Morrilton 6-3

4A-South – Magnolia over Monticello 5-4

(Cover Photo by Tommy Land)