LINDALE — Freshman Sarah Womack clubbed a two-run, two-out single to spark the Sulphur Springs Lady Cats to a 3-2 win over Nacogdoches Friday in the Class 4A area softball playoffs.
Womack's big hit keyed a late rally which took the Lady Cats from trailing to 2-1 to leading 3-2 with one swing of her aluminum wand.
Womack admitted after the game she did not even know what kind of pitch it was that she hit, she just hit it.
"The ball was in the right place, in the middle of the plate and I hit it," Womack said. "I had to calm down and relax. I just saw it and hit."
Sulphur Springs head softball coach David Carrillo chimed in, "Sarah's hit was awesome, it was just a clutch hit. We had clutch hitting and pitching it was just a great game."
The Lady Cats got stellar pitching again from senior Hailey Dixon. Dixon pitched her second one-hitter in the last three playoff games. She went threw a complete game, striking out 10, giving up two runs off one hit, walking one to claim the victory.
"I had everything working," Dixon said. "I pitched Nacogdoches inside because they crowd the plate and it was a big difference from last year."
In the 2012 bi-district playoffs, Nacogdoches swept the series over the Lady Cats in two games. This time it was a different story as Sulphur Springs played loose and were eager for the challenge.
The game came down to the top of the sixth inning. Nacogdoches had a 2-1 lead. Lady Dragon pitcher Kylie Murdock got two quick out before the magic started for the Lady Cats. Haylee Chester belted her second single of the game. She was replaced at first base by pinch runner Katie Barnett. Makayla Glosson reached on an error, the wild throw moved runners to second and third. With the game on the line, both teams planned their strategy. Nacogdoches huddled at the pitcher's circle while the Sulphur Springs runners and batter Womack gathered by Carrillo in the third base coaching box. Womack pounded the first good pitch she saw to shallow right field plating two runners for the hit of the night which gave the Lady Cats the 3-2 lead. Womack was thrown out trying to steal moments later, but Sulphur Springs had the lead and momentum.
In the bottom of the sixth, Nacogdoches had a runner reach second on a two-out, two-base error. Dixon regrouped to get Day'zjah Pennywell on a ground out to shortstop.
Sulphur Springs was unable to pad the lead going down quickly in the top of the seventh. Action moved to the bottom of the seventh with Nacogdoches, the home team for the night, getting the last at-bat.
Dixon sat the Lady Dragons down in order, striking out two of the final three batters. She fanned Jenna Richardson for the final out. The Lady Cats claimed the 3-2 win and poured onto the field in celebration.
Nacogdoches players collapsed in disappointment and coaches consoled the players.
In the early going, it was Sulphur Springs holding a quick 1-0 lead after one inning.
In the top of the first frame, Dixon reached on a walk with Barnett running for the pitcher. Barnett took off for second and the throw was off the mark allowing the speedy sophomore to reach third base with one out. Kiara Johnson ripped a sacrifice fly to right field, deep enough to score the first run of the game. Jaleigh Avery singled. Chester lined out and threat was over, but the seal was broken on the game with Sulphur Springs holding a 1-0 lead.
Nacogdoches got all their runs in the bottom of the third inning. Brittianni Phillips worked a one-out walk. Dixon got Dede Johnson on a strikeout. Phillips moved to second on a wild pitch with two outs. On a 3-1 pitch leadoff hitter Alex Mayfield connected for a hit to shallow left field. Lady Cat outfielder Johnson could not find the sinking ball and it scooted past her as two runs scored. Mayfield running like a track sprinter around the sacks, scoring an inside-the-park homer standing up to give Nacogdoches a 2-1 lead.
Sulphur Springs had runners in scoring position in the fourth and fifth innings.
The Lady Cats scored twice in the top of the sixth on Womack's hit and held on to take the 3-2 win and the area title.
"We were just able to get the right hits at the right time. This is great, I can't remember when Sulphur Springs has gone to the third round in softball," Carrillo said. "Womack's hit was awesome. She has been hitting well in practice. She got the job done. Dixon was determined on the mound and she pitched very well and got the win."
Dixon threw 93 pitches, 63 were strikes.
When asked if Dixon was nervous in such a close, nail-biter of game, she smiled and said, "These are the games I love, you want to pitch in a close game like this. This was fun."
Sulphur Springs will play Mansfield Legacy with details to be released later.
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