PAINFUL LOSS: McSheffery injured as Lady Cats fall to McKinney North
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

April 21, 2004 -- Senior Night unfortunately turned into a short evening for Melissa McSheffery and that helped make it a long game for the Sulphur Springs Lady Cats on Tuesday.

McSheffery, the team's leading batter and RBI producer, suffered what is thought to be a torn right quadriceps muscle in the fourth inning of the Lady Cats' 8-1 loss to McKinney North. Her status for the playoffs, which start in 10 days, is uncertain.

Losing the game to McKinney North, which clinched the 11-4A championship, was tough because it dropped SSHS (20-8-1 overall, 6-3 in district) into a tie for second place with Denison. Losing McSheffery will be tougher.

She had hit safely in eight of the nine district games, going 12-for-28 (.428 average) with five doubles and a triple. She had also played tremendously on defense at third base, and was one pitch away from a perfect game in her last outing on the mound.

"Losing Melissa McSheffery is a big loss," said SSHS coach John McCullough. "She's a real catalyst for the team. Hopefully, she'll be back for the playoffs, but right now we don't know. She was in a lot of pain."

The injury occurred in the bottom of the fourth inning after McSheffery led off with a double to the right field gap. She went to third on a ground ball by Savana Gibby, but when she hit the bag, she told McCullough she felt something pop.

Hailey Watson, the sophomore sister of senior pitcher Hollie Watson, took her place and scored when big sis hit a long single to left center. That tied the game at 1-1, but it would get away from the Lady Cats in the final two innings.

Hollie Watson (11-3-1) took the loss, but gave up just two earned runs on five hits. She walked six and struck out four.

North took a 1-0 lead in the fourth, using a walk to Kristyn Shelton and two errors.

After Watson's RBI tied the game in the bottom of the inning, North went 1-2-3 in the top of the fifth, while the Lady Cats had their final scoring opportunity in the bottom of the inning.

Stephanie Kethley reached on an error and advanced on Whitney Gideon's two-out, opposite-field single. McSheffery's turn in the order came next, but she was unavailable because of the injury. Hailey Watson, in her first varsity at-bat, was thrown into the fire against Becky Nye, one of the best pitchers in the metroplex.

"When Melissa got hurt, that was a big blow to us," McCullough said. "It came around where her spot in the batting order came up, we had runners on, and she's our leading RBI producer.

"That's tough on Hailey -- her very first varsity at-bat in a game like this. She did a great job competing. She stepped up and didn't back down at all. But, that's a tough situation to be in."

Nye took the win, giving up five hits and one walk while striking out nine.

North then plated their two earned runs in the top of the sixth when Olivia Hawkins slapped an opposite-field single and Nye walked. They scored on a single by Kristen Adkins and a bases-loaded walk to Kelly Shelton. Those four batters, the top of the North order, accounted for all five of their hits.

In the seventh, North added five unearned runs on two hits, two walks and two errors.

The Lady Cats, meanwhile, had just one hit in their final two innings -- a two-out single by Casey Carper in the seventh.

"We added some extra pressure on ourselves when we made some errors and didn't give ourselves a chance to finish them off in that inning," McCullough said. "Those last two innings there, we let it get away from us."

The Lady Cats must now focus on their regular season finale at Paris (6-14-1, 2-7) on Friday. If SSHS wins and Denison (16-8, 6-3) beats Sherman (14-9, 4-5), then the Lady Cats and Denison will meet to decide the second and third seeds out of 11-4A.

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