Lady Cats try to start new win streak
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

April 7, 2004 -- Shrugging off their first district loss in over three years, the Sulphur Springs Lady Cats started a new win streak Tuesday with a 9-3 victory over Paris.

The Lady Cats ended the first round of District 11-4A play with a 4-1 record (18-6-1 overall), good enough for second place behind McKinney North (5-0).

It was the Lady Bulldogs who ended the SSHS district win streak at 33 games on Friday. Tuesday night, it was back to business as usual, though the Lady Cats showed some signs of a hangover by giving up three unearned runs in the final two innings.

"I really think they did get over the loss to McKinney North because they know that these three home games are really important for us. If we win all three, that gets us in the playoffs," said SSHS head coach John McCullough. "That's their main goal. Obviously, they want to be district champions and wanted to go unbeaten, but now that that's behind us, there's no pressure on them and they can just come out and play.

"Getting back on the winning note and getting that first one at home was very important, and the girls came out and did a good job tonight."

The top three in the batting order -- Kristen Cross, Whitney Gideon and Melissa McSheffery -- all had multiple hit games, combining to go 7-for-10 with six runs and five RBIs.

McSheffery extended her hitting streak to five games by lashing a pair of doubles and improved her team-leading RBI total to 22. Cross reached base in all four plate appearances with three infield singles and a walk, and scored three runs.

The Lady Cats received another well-pitched game from senior Hollie Watson, who improved her record to 10-2-1 with a three-hit, 12-strikeout performance. Watson threw 3 2/3 innings of perfect ball before Meredith Rhodes broke the no-hitter with a single up the middle.

By that time, the Lady Cats had a 2-0 lead. Cross led off the third inning with an infield single and McSheffery drove her home with a double off the center field wall. Savana Gibby, who reached base three times in the game, singled off the pitcher's glove drive in McSheffery.

Sulphur Springs added to its lead in the fourth when Stephanie Kethley singled, Casey Carper was hit by a pitch, Cross singled and Gideon brought home two runs with a line drive off Paris pitcher Ashley Zachary's foot. McSheffery followed with a sacrifice fly and a 5-0 SSHS lead.

In the fifth, Watson narrowly missed a homerun with foul ball, then drove the ball the opposite way for a double. She scored on Kethley's grounder for a 6-0 SSHS advantage.

In the top of the sixth, Paris struck for two runs on back-to-back singles from Taylor Gates and Zachary, two passed balls and a wild pitch. They added another run in the seventh on a walk, stolen base and error.

The Lady Cats' final three runs came in the sixth as Cross, Gideon and McSheffery led off the inning with consecutive singles and scored, the final run coming on Crystal Smitherman's single.

"The first time through, we hit the balls right at people. I told them to just keep hitting the ball hard. When you're hitting it off the fence, it's definitely going to fall in," McCullough said. "The next thing you know we're hitting balls in the gaps and hitting them off the wall. Melissa McSheffery had two doubles tonight, and Hollie hit the ball hard.

"Anytime you get them in a row, which is what you need to get them hitting in order, you can score runs, and that's what we did tonight."

Notes: Denison beat Sherman, 2-0, to move into third place in the district with a 3-2 record. The Lady Cats host Denison at 7 p.m. Thursday. ...Cross has reached base successfully in her previous six plate appearances, while Gibby has been on base six of her last eight times at the plate. ...Kethley got her first district start at catcher while Courtney Aguilar played first base. Aguilar recorded three putouts and four assists.

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