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Home News-Telegram Sports Girls want to have fun -- Lady Cats work hard, play hard as softball playoffs approach

Girls want to have fun -- Lady Cats work hard, play hard as softball playoffs approach

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Barbs fly like line drives.

Good-natured kidding and poking fun at each other makes the time past quicker for the girls of the Sulphur Springs Lady Cats softball squad.

They smile when the trade sizzling comments to go with their red-hot bats. They take the kidding and send out a new one to match it, their skin as thick as the gloves they wear on the diamond.

Just a few minutes of watching the Lady Cats take infield practice and pound optic yellow balls in the batting cage, you come to the conclusion that these girls are good. Very good.

"These girls can play. Several of them Mac Morgan, Katie Dodd and Brittany Crawford have been on the varsity since they were freshmen," said Sulphur Springs head softball coach David Carrillo. "I think girls can handle it better than boys. It's just different. They're not satisfied to be here. I think they think of the playoffs as unfinished business."

District 13-4A Co-champion Sulphur Springs, 22-9  for the year, 9-3 in district, will take on District 14-4A No. 3 seed Kilgore in the bi-district playoffs.  Henderson the district with Lindale in second, Kilgore taking third and Whitehouse in fourth place.

The playoff date of the game will come after May 11 with all state UIL athletic and academic competition cancelled due to the swine flu.

Kilgore is paced by the hitting of Becca Stokes. Stokes has a .494 average with 44 hits, two homers and 22 RBI; Alyssa McKinney is hitting .316 with 12 RBI while Meagan Youngblood has a .486 average, 36 hits and 20 RBI. Stokes is a pitcher for the Lady Bulldogs with a 4-1 record and 3.60 earned run average; Youngblood, another pitcher, has a 6-10 record with 147 strikeouts and an earned run averag of 0.991.

The Lady Cats are hitting .346 on the year as a team and feature a balanced line-up with six batters with 20 RBIs or more.  Top hitter is Morgan with a team-high of 48 hits, 28 RBIs, hitting .475 with a .646 slugging percentage. She also has stolen 15 bases in 16 attempts. Kara Tomlinson has 25 RBIs to go with a .370 average. Dodd is hitting .337 she has 24 RBIs with a team-high nine doubles. Catcher Maurie Lewis hits at a .371 clip with 23 hits turned into 21 RBI; Krista McMahan has 20 RBI; JaMonica Hall has 33 hits, two homers,15 of 17 stolen bases and 20 RBIs. Also hitting over .400 is Kaci Kennedy with six RBIs; Bailee Speaker has a.385 average in limited duty; T'Kea Johnson is hitting .349 with 30 hits and 15 RBIs; Crawford is hitting .313 with 31 hits, 15 RBIs.

The  Lady Cats have stolen 51 of 58 bases. The team has 185 RBI with a .441 slugging percentage.

Opponents are hitting .239 against the Lady Cats, averaging three runs a game while the Lady Cats are scoring an average of 6.8 runs per game.

Sulphur Springs is anxious to get back in playoff action after losing to Forney in the area round last year.

"This is the third season as I tell the girls. It's been a fast season to me. Now it's all about beating Kilgore," Carrillo said. "They some good pitching, not overwhelming. But they hit their spots and do a good job with it. Offensively, I think the top half of the lineup is good, they're not that solid top to bottom. They have a team which has overcome a lot to get here. They think their a team of destiny to just make the playoffs after the bad year they had last year. I don' t believe they won a district game last year. To go from that point to making the playoffs this year means they have made a big turnaround."

The coach continued, "Kilgore is just excited to be in the playoffs. I know they will play hard and not give up. I really am kind of leary of  team like that. They'll play you hard and get after it."

The Lady Cats come into the game fresh from a 11-3 win over rival Mount Pleasant. That wins coming after the team lost to Texas High and missed the chance at winning the district title outright.

"We shook off the stink of the Texas High game," Carrillo said with a laugh. "We beat Mount Pleasant and go the co-championship. This team doesn't seem to be that concerned about not winning district, we have other goals. I know we are not satisfied."

Carrillo said that the 2009 team making the playoffs would be taking a different approach to the team which earned a trip to postseason last year.

"We won't have the deer in the headlights look to us, we know what to expect. This is different and we know how to approach the playoffs," Carrillo said. "I think we really came together as a team after the second loss to Hallsville. We re-evaluated our goals and the season. We talked about having fun and not putting so much pressure on each other. Right now we're playing it one game at a time, really one inning at a time."

Carrillo smiles as the infield practice gets spirited with players commenting on each other's throwing arms or defensive prowess. He knows it's all in good fun and it loosens the squad up as they put in work on fundamentals, even 31 games into the season without complaints.

"The girls care about each other, I really think that makes us such a good team," Carrillo said. "We have each other's back and it's all about the team. We know how important the playoffs are, our season could end at anytime. There's no turning back now. I'd really take this group of girls any day and take my chances."




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