ROYSE CITY — Sulphur Springs left seven runners stranded on the sacks, coming up short Friday in a 4-2 loss to Mansfield Legacy.
The Class 4A regional quarterfinals game played at Royse City went the way of the Broncos. Fans looked at the final score might think that the two-homer by Kolbee Gray was the winning margin. But actually the Lady Cats had numerous chances to score more, twice leaving the bases loaded.
"We had our chances. We had lots of chances to score and get the lead. But we could not get the key hit," said David Carrillo, Lady Cats head softball coach rubbing his recently blond-tinted hair after the game. "I am proud of our effort, we had some things go against us, but we kept battling. We've really come together as a team and we almost did it, but Legacy is a good team. I feel bad for the seniors, this is a tough way to lose. We almost took it the next level, I thank those seniors for showing us what can be accomplished."
Ryan Wright of the Broncos pitched six innings to get the win. She allowed only three hits, gave up two runs while striking out eight before being replaced by Karlie Milburn in the bottom of the seventh.
Hailey Dixon had a complete game for Sulphur Springs. The senior right-hander in her final game for the Lady Cats gave up four runs, struck out seven, walked three and gave up four hits. She threw 127 pitches, 80 strikes.
The big hit in the game was Gray's homer in the fifth which gave Legacy the momentum to close out the game.
Legacy scratched out a run in the top of the first. Reagan Wright singled to open the game. The base rap to centerfield gave the Broncos a base runner. Wright stole second, but Dixon got Sara Scott to strike out. Brittany Walker flied out to the outfield, but Wright moved to third. Moments later Wright scored on a wild pitch to make it a 1-0 game. Dixon worked out of the situation, getting Ryan Wright to hit a fly ball to third base.
Sulphur Springs was held scoreless in the bottom of the first as they were in the role of the home team.
It appeared the Broncos might get another run in the top of the second when a runner reached on a walk and another on an infield error. Legacy had runners at second and third when Dixon found her spot at the plate. Dixon struck out Milburn, Ashley Richardson and Reagan Wright in order quelling the possible Bronco uprising.
The Lady Cats got on the board in the bottom of the second. Haylee Chester started the rally with a walk. Makayla Glosson popped out to first, but during her at bat, wild pitches moved Chester to third. Maci McGlamery and Kaylee Anderson worked walks to load the sacks. Toni Cody went down on strikes. Leadoff hitter Meagan McCullough reached on catcher's inference forcing in a run to tie the contest at 1-all. Dixon was unable to help her own cause as she pounded a 3-1 pitch, but the liner was speared by Richardson at shortstop for Legacy.
Legacy padded the lead with a lone run in the fourth. In the fifth they added the big blow when Gray clubbed a two-run homer to left field to make it a 4-1 game.
In the bottom of the fifth, it appeared the Lady Cats were going to answer the Legacy rally with one of their own. Cody walked and McCullough reached on an error. Dixon laid down a bunt to second for an infield hit. Sulphur Springs had the bases loaded with no outs and the heart of their order coming up. Kiara Johnson grounded into a fielder's choice force out at home. Avery lined out to second base for the second out. Chester also was retired on an infield grounder and the chance to score disappeared into the night sky. The Lady Cats leaving the bases loaded for the second time in the game.
Sulphur Springs came to the dish in the bottom of the seventh, hoping for a miracle. Instead they got a break. Left fielder Kaitlyn Nelson was unable to catch a pop fly off the bat of Cody. The ball hit off Nelson's leg and rolled to the fence allowing Cody to reach second base. McCullough drew a walk on four pitches. With runners on third and first, Michelle Mayfield head coach of Legacy took no chances and removed Ryan Wright and replaced her with Milburn who began the game at first base. Wright took over at first base. Dixon struck out looking for the first out. McCullough moved to second base. Johnson grounded out to shortstop with Cody scoring to make it a 4-2 game. Avery went down on strikes as Legacy won the playoff contest.
Legacy players stormed the field in celebration. Sulphur Springs players moved to left field, teary eyed the girls gathered around head coach Carrillo and then left the field after exchanging hugs.
Carrillo said, "I am so proud of our effort. The girls just kept on coming back. If we get the big hit, then we win this game. I really thought we would do it. We lose some very good players. The girls coming back have big shoes to fill to replace these seniors. But it was an exciting season. We made it to the third round. We wanted to go to next round, but we did not make it. It certainly was not from a lack of effort. Our girls played great and left it all on the field."
Not only did seniors Anderson, Kelsie Adams, Dixon, McGlamery, McCullough and Cody play their last game. It was the final night on a softball diamond for assistant coach Eric Buck. Buck will return as a teacher to Sulphur Springs, but the playoff loss to Legacy was his last night to coach, ending a 27-year career.
The season ends for the Lady Cats at 22-13. Mansfield Legacy continues in the playoffs with a 29-7 mark a berth in the regional semi-finals against either Frisco or Forney.
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