McKINNEY—It was an flawless victory for the North Hopkins Lady Panthers. If ever they needed the perfect start to a series, it was last night. Lady Panther senior pitcher Chastin Smiddy performed at her peak without error or giving up any walks to the challenging home team, Lindsay Lady Knights in game one of the Region II series softball final Wednesday night at McKinney High School.
“It was our good defense and Chastin’s pitching that paid off,” said North Hopkins Lady Panther head softball coach Jim Westbrook. “The pressure will be on us now with this first win. We’ve got to do another one.”
Smiddy battled through an early injury in the opener when the softball came down the line to put a large whelp on her left thigh to strikeout two opponents and allowed three total runs. “We plan on using Chastin again on Saturday,” added Westbrook with concerns about doctoring her leg. “As long as that right arm works, we are going to ride on it.” Smiddy pitched the entire seven innings, allowed 10 hits equal to the number of hits Lindsay pitcher sophomore Alyx Ethington and relief freshman Taylor Atkins allowed. “I am not sure why she (Coach Robin Hess) left her (Ethington) in so long,” questioned Westbrook. “But we were able to see both of their pitchers.” Atkins came in with two innings remaining striking out two while Ethington allowed three walks and struck out three.
Key defensive players for the night were Lady Panther junior first baseman Courtney Loper and senior short stop Jessica Harry added Westbrook.
Lindsay was the in the lead in the first inning with Rose Hermes and Megan Caillier scoring runs.
After a scoreless first inning, North Hopkins got on the board with a fly ball to centerfield by senior Grace Cox that brought in teammate junior Cheyenne Duke. Cox was sacrificed in her attempt to score as Lindsay catcher junior Katie Dieter tagged her in a controversial call.
North Hopkins trailed in the first three innings with only one run on the board by Duke. As the skies remained clear and the weather started to turn cool in the fourth inning, the Lady Panthers turned up the heat on Lindsay. On a comeback, Lady Panther Smiddy tacked on the tying run making the score read 2-all. Natalie Rose of Lindsay answered back with a run and final score made by the Lady Knights.
After two errors made early in the game by District 9-1A champion Lindsay, the overthrows at first and third bases allowed the all important opportunity gap that North Hopkins needed to make the plays.
The altering the momentum of the game was a two run triple by Cox driving in scoring runs by juniors Duke and Liz Shaw putting North Hopkins ahead 4-3 in the fifth inning. The Lady Panthers continued to score with a run by Cox and teammate P.K. Harlin and never looked back. Lindsay continued to show signs of frustration as a pitching changed was made to put Atkins on the mound.
Coach Hess argued calls made at first base. One in the sixth inning when Lady Knight senior Kayla Hess was hit by a toss from North Hopkins catcher Shaw while enroute to first base. The game official explained that the runner was inside the line and called the Lindsay player out. The second call was on a fast out made by Lady Panther first baseman Loper on Lady Knight senior Beverly Knabe.
The seventh inning North Hopkins rocked the field in celebration with their record mark at 20-5. The Lady Panthers in the dugout relaxed and enjoyed their 6-3 victory with their coaches Westbrook and Lisa Vos, team “mom” Connie Westbrook, and fans.
Leading hitters for the Lady Panthers included Crissy Hall with 2-for-5, Loper 2-for-4, Smiddy 1-for-4 with a run, Cox 2-for-4 and a run, Shaw 1-for-4 with a run, Duke was 1-for-3 with two runs, and P.K. Harlin 1-for-4 with one run.
For Lindsay (25-8-2) runs came by Rose Hermes, Megan Caillier, and Natalie Rose. Hitting was Hermes 2-for-4, Bethani Eberhart and Caillier 1-for-3, Rose 2-for-4, and Lucinda Krahl and Hess 1-for-3. Coach Westbrook noted defensive plays made by Hermes and Caillier as he prepares for the next game.
The two teams will meet again on Saturday. That game is set for 1 p.m. at the same location in McKinney. Game 3 will follow, if needed.
NOTE: With just eight teams in Class 1A remain in Texas softball action, only four will advance to the prestigious slots in the state tournament set for Thursday, June 4-Saturday, June 6. Class 1A semi-finals will commence at 8:30 a.m. on the first day of tournament play.
North Hopkins 0 1 0 1 4 0 0 6-10-0
Lindsay 2 0 0 1 0 0 0 3-10-5
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