The senior right-hander pitched a no-hitter Monday as Sulphur Springs won 10-0 to take a 2-0 decision over Kilgore in the best-of-three bi-district softball playoffs.
The Lady Cats had taken the opening game of the series 6-0 Friday at Sulphur Springs.
Kennedy had her screwball and curve working as she baffled the Lady Dogs, fanning four, hitting one batter but allowing no runs or hits. She faced only 16 batters on the night, throwing 58 pitches, 39 for strikes.
"I hadn’t pitched since Mount Pleasant game (April 24), but I had been working hard on my pitches in practice. To come back and get a game like this is exciting," Kennedy said. "I think my screwball and curve were all I threw the whole game. It was a good game and our defensive definitely helped."
Kennedy was backed up by a second inning double play and good outfield catches by JaMonica Hall and Jalie Eppars.
The game was played despite a threat of rain earlier in the day. Against Kilgore it was the Lady Cats' bats which were booming like thunder. Sulphur Springs scored 10 times, slamming a dozen hits in the five-inning game played in just 70 minutes. The Lady Cats had four extra base hits, including a two-run homer off the bat of catcher Maurie Lewis.
Losing pitcher for Kilgore was Meagan Youngblood who was tagged for all 12 hits and 10 runs.
Neither team scored in the first inning, but in the top of the second the Lady Cats went to work. Krista McMahan singled, stole second and score when Brittani Crawford single to left field. Kara Tomlinson moved Crawford to second with a sacrifice bunt. The next two batters, T'Kea Johnson and Eppars, were retired in order and the Lady Cats had to be content with the 1-0 lead.
Kennedy got Youngblood to pop out to second base. But Kennedy hit the next batter, Candace Meadows, in a rare lapse of control. Meadows was quickly erased on a double play as Alyssa McKinney grounded to Crawford at shortstop who flipped the ball to McMahan at second who rifled a throw to Katie Dodd at first to turn the twin killing. The dazzling defensively play ended the threat for Kilgore.
In the top of the third, Sulphur Springs sent eight batters to the plate, three scored. Mac Morgan pounded a one-out double to right field. Dodd singled home the second run of the game. Lewis doubled off the left field fence to give the Lady Cats runners at second and third. McMahan reached on an error and a run scored to make it 3-0. Crawford got an infield hit which also saw a run score give Sulphur Springs a 4-0 lead. Tomlinson and Johnson were retired on infield grounders.
Kilgore went meekly in the bottom of the third, Kennedy keeping the ball on the infield with Lady Dog batters going down on two infield pop flies sandwiched around a strikeout.
The Lady Cats added three more runs in the top of the fourth. Eppars bunted for a hit and when the Kilgore infielders failed to notice her rounding first, she kept going to second base. Morgan's fly ball to the outfield was misplayed allowing a run to score while she raced to second. Dodd grounded out, but the runner took third. Lewis hammered the Youngblood offering deep over the left field chain link fence for a two-run homer to give the Lady Cats a 7-0 lead.
Kilgore managed to get a base runner to second base in the fourth for their lone threat of the night. But Kennedy got a infield ground out followed by two harmless fly balls to end the fourth frame.
The Lady Cats again struck for three runs, this time it was an uprising in the fifth frame which featured three singles and a triple.
Crawford got her third hit of the game to lead off the fifth. Tomlinson grounded out, but Crawford took second. Johnson popped out to right field. Eppars slapped a single down the right field line to plate a run. Hall then connected with a pitch and powered it to the left field wall for a stand-up triple, making it a 9-0 game. Morgan singled Hall home to give the Sulphur Springs team the important 10-0 lead which led to the early end to the contest using the 10-run rule after five innings.
Kennedy was her sharpest with the game nearing the end. She she fanned two of the final three batters she faced. Kilgore's last chance, a pop up to Morgan by Jalissa Baggett was snagged and Sulphur Springs recorded the win, which gave them a 2-0 series win over the Lady Dogs. In two games the Lady Cats out-scored Kilgore, 16-0. Sulphur Springs had 18 hits, compared to three for the Lady Dogs.
Sulphur Springs will advance to the Class 4A area softball where they face the winner of the Waco Midway/Terrell game in a playoff series to be set later.
"We played well, it was the pitching of Kaci that was the story, she was dominating," said David Carrillo, Sulphur Springs head softball coach. "We gave up three hits and no runs to Kilgore in the first game and in this game we no-hit them, allowing no runs. Pitching like that makes my job a lot easier. We had our bats going and played good defense, this was a big win for us. We did a lot of things right, but we know each step in the playoffs the games get tougher."
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