A big key in sports is timing.
Sulphur Springs and Athens did not play long enough to count the warm-up softball contest as a complete game, but they did avoid the thunderstorm.
At 6:06 p.m. Monday officials called the game due to lightning. That ruling came with two outs in the top of the fifth, the hometown Lady Cats leading 3-1.
“We did not get to play long enough for it to count, but it did not matter. We got what we needed out of it,” said David Carrillo, Sulphur Springs head softball coach. “We got to play against a good team and see live pitching. We got a lot accomplished.”
The Lady Cats, 20-8-1 and the Lady Hornets (13-10-1) both came into action with playoff berths tucked away.
Sulphur Springs as the No. 2 representative from District 14-4A, while Athens is the No. 4 team from 15-3A.
“I knew the weather was coming. We played with a sense of urgency to get it in,” Carrillo said. “I probably rushed Katie Sapaugh (starting Lady Cats pitcher) a little. But I think the experience we got in the game will be helpful to us.’
Starting pitcher Kristen House and Sapaugh both went the distance before the tilt was ended.
The first inning was scoreless. Each team managed one single. One for Josee McNeese of Athens and a clean single by Kasey Moore for the Lady Cats.
In the top of the second, Athens got two baserunners from a Sam Smith single and an outfield error on a Kelli Gartman pop fly. Sapaugh pitched out of the jam, getting Hadley Cain on an infield fly ball.
Sulphur Springs got on the board in a big way in the third. Leadoff speedster Makayla Glosson reached on an infield chopper. Kiara “Duke” Johnson showed she had recovered from a sprained ankle as reached base moments later. Then Moore did the damage with one swing. The wind was gusty, but Moore’s line shot over the left field fence needed no help. Kasey circled the sacks and the Lady Cats had a 3-0 lead. Avery lined out and Sarah Womack singles and Kristen Allen followed with a walk. But the Lady Cats could not add to the lead. Mary Lopez ended the threat grounding out.
No holding the lead, Sapaugh sat the Lady Hornets down in order, three up and three down as clouds gathered in the distance.
Johnson got another hit, but the Lady Cats were held off the scoreboard as action moved to the top of the fifth.
Athens got two walks sandwiched around a strikeout. With runners on first and second, Haley Durden grounded out, but moved the runners up to second and third. With two outs, House hit a slow roller to first and a collision occured and the third out was not recorded.
Athens scored at least one run while officials discussed the call and then called the game with black clouds rolling in with lightning.
The Lady Cats and Lady Hornets cleared the field as fans left. Less than 20 minutes later heavy rain was reported in the area.
Sapaugh pitched 4.2 innings and allowed three hits, one earned run, striking out five and walking two. She threw 75 pitches, 43 for strikes. She had first pitch strikes to 10 of 20 batters faced.
Sulphur Springs will play a best-of-three bi-district playoff series with Lucas Lovejoy.
Game 1 is at the SSHS softball diamond at 7 p.m. Thursday; Game 2, is at 7 p.m. Friday at Lovejoy; Game 3 if necessary will be, 2 p.m. Saturday at Royse City.
“The game with Athens was good, but our girls know it is for real with Lovejoy,” Carrillo said. “We got a lot of good play experience last year and it will help us. We know what is at stake. We want to get the fans out and have our field rocking on Thursday night. The girls are very excited to be starting the playoffs.”
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