Malvern baseball vs Pine Bluff game photo

Malvern’s Jacobe Hart tries to avoid the tagout while sliding into home base during the Leopards’ season opening game against Pine Bluff Monday in the Benton Classic.

With the untimely cancellation of last year’s season, the Malvern Leopards baseball team was ready to hit the diamond for the 2021 season.

That chance came Monday as the Leopards took the diamond at Everett Field at Panther Stadium in Benton at the Benton Panther Classic. The Leopards battled hard in their season opener against the Pine Bluff Zebras and pulled out the win in the sixth inning, 5-2.

Second year head coach Jordan Knight thought the Leopards played a clean baseball game, meaning they committed no errors over the course of seven innings. “We played a clean defensive game, no errors,” he said.

Knight was also impressed with how the Leopards played in all phases of Monday’s game. “We pitched it well, we hit it well, we had great timely hitting with big time hits with runners in scoring position,” he said. “I think the thing I’m most proud of is our ability to bunt the ball tonight. We bunted the ball well and it put us into positive positions and if we bunt balls well then we give ourselves a chance to be productive offensively, so extremely proud of that.”

Now the Leopards look forward to tonight’s game against Searcy at Everett Field. Knight said that tonight’s game will be very tough for the Leopards, but added that it also feels good to just be playing baseball after everything that has happened in the past months. “It feels good, you know the benefit game got canceled and with everything with COVID and the blizzard, it feels good to play baseball, A and then B, to get a win on opening day,” he said. “(We are) going into a very very tough game against Searcy.”

Knight added that although Searcy will be tough, getting the win against Pine Bluff helped build confidence. “It builds confidence, it lets everybody know that we can win, and we can play a great round of baseball while doing it. So hopefully the kids build on it and we just continue to gain confidence and go forward.”

First pitch is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. at Everett Field in Benton.

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