Sulphur Springs takes 1-0 series lead
It was a shutout with sizzle.
Taylor Clifton threw a three-hit shutout, fanning six batters as Sulphur Springs downed the Kilgore Lady Dogs 6-0 in Game 1 of a best-of-three Bi-district Class 4A softball playofsf.
The large crowd at Lady Cat field at SSHS got to see Clifton throw a masterful game, especially considering the long lay-off. Clifton allowed just three base runners on the night and Kilgore never really had a threat to score. During the middle innings, Clifton retired 15 batters in a row on a variety of dipping and darting pitches, mixed in with a fastball. Five times she retired Kilgore in order.
Two runs in the first and four more in the third by the home-standing Lady Cats were more than enough to take the win on the humid, cloudy night.
Game 2 of the series, will be played Saturday at 6 p.m. at Kilgore, a third game, if needed will be play immediately after the first game.
"Taylor had an outstanding game," said Sulphur Springs head softball coach David Carrillo. "She mixed her pitches up well. We have been holding the pitchers back and not letting them throw everything, but it's the playoffs now and we threw it all, what the heck."
Kilgore hurler Meagan Youngblood was the losing pitcher, going seven innings allowing six runs off six hits to Sulphur Springs.
The Lady Bulldogs were retired quietly in the top of the first. One runner reached on a hit off the glove of third baseman Mac Morgan, but it did not hurt Sulphur Springs.
In the bottom of the first, Jalie Eppars worked a walk taking a close pitch on a full count. Jamonica Hall reached on a bunt and took second on the errant throw down the right field line which allowed Eppars to motor around and score the first tally of the game. Mac Morgan bunted for a hit, again a poor throw let a run score and Sulphur Springs was up 2-0 early. Youngblood worked out of the jam, getting Maurie Lewis and Krista McMahan in order.
Clifton retired the Lady Dogs in order in on a ground out, fly ball and strikeout.
Sulphur Springs went down in order in the bottom of the second frame. Clifton continued her dominance and got two strikeouts and a weak grounded to retired Kilgore in the third.
The Lady Cats had their biggest
outburst since April 24 in the third, with a four-run inning against Kilgore. Eppars started the fun with a walk, the sophomore batter was down in the count 1-2, but was patient as Youngblood missed the plate with three straight balls. Eppars took first, stole second and Hall knocked her home with a single. Hall took second on the throw home as Sulphur Springs went up 3-0. Morgan was retired on a fly ball, but not before putting up a fight with five foul balls in a 10-pitch at-bat. All-state first baseman Katie Dodd drew a walk. Lewis singled home a run with a hit to left field. McMahan popped out to left field on the first pitch she saw for the second out. Brittani Crawford belted an outside pitch on an 0-1 count to left field to plate two runs and make it a 6-0 game. Tomlinson grounded out as the rally ended. Sulphur Springs sent eight batters to the plate with four of them scoring.
Neither team would cross the plate for the remainder of the game. Clifton closed out the game with style. In the top of the fourth the Lady Cats threw some leather at Kilgore, turning a double play from shortstop Crawford to second sacker McMahan over to Dodd on a sharp grounder.
The rest of the game was pretty quick, Clifton retired 10 of the next 11 in order, fanning three allowing a lone single.
Clifton was struck by a line drive in the final inning, but stayed in the game and was apparently unhurt with the ball striking off her torso above the waist. She got the out on the play, throwing to first base after she clutched the large bright yellow ball to her midsection.
Sulphur Springs won the game by the 6-0 final.
"We didn’t hold back, we had a good game. I am glad we got five innings in," Carrillo said. "We played well, but give Kilgore credit they made contact and put some balls in play.Winning Game 1 was important, but like I told the girls, you can't get too full of yourself, you have to win two games to take the series. But it feels good to get a win, I am just glad we were able to get the game in."
The second game of the best-of-three bi-district series will be played Monday at 6 p.m. at Kilgore's field, located near historic Driller Park.
Seating is limited and fans are urged to bring lawn chairs.
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