SSHS ties Allen in softball opener
From Staff Reports

Feb. 20, 2004 -- ALLEN -- The Sulphur Springs Lady Cats used some solid pitching, excellent defense and a clutch hit by junior Casey Carper on Tuesday, but had to settle for a 2-2 tie with Allen in the softball season opener.

The teams played for nine innings before the coaches decided to call it a draw.

"It's too early in the year to play it out," said SSHS head coach John McCullough. "Hollie (Watson) struck out three of the last six outs she had, and their pitcher did the same. It was getting late and the way the pitchers were going, we thought we might be there for a long time.

"I was pleased overall. We got a good look at a good team."

Allen was the District 9-5A champion last season, while Sulphur Springs is coming off a regional quarterfinal appearance.

Watson went the distance on the mound for the Lady Cats, giving up seven hits and two runs while striking out nine.

Still, the Lady Cats found themselves behind, 2-1, with two outs in the seventh inning and Crystal Smitherman on second after walking and stealing the base. Carper, with two strikes on her, lashed a doubled down the rightfield line to tie the game and send it into extra innings.

"Casey had the clutch hit for us," McCullough said. "At the plate, we struggled a little bit. We had too many called third strikes for me, that's something we've got to work on.

"We got people on base, we just didn't get the clutch hit to get them home except for Casey's hit in the seventh."

Leading the way at the plate were Whitney Gideon and Courtney Aguilar, who both had two hits.

The Lady Cats' first run came when pinch runner Krissy Cotten stole second base, advanced to third on a missed bunt attempt and scored when the throw from the catcher sailed into the outfield.

The Lady Cats also received excellent defensive play, especially from first baseman Lacey Temples, who turned an unassisted double play to get out of one jam, and Melissa McSheffery, who made a diving stop of a grounder with runners on first and third in the sixth inning and touched second base for the inning-ending force.

"We had some outstanding defensive plays again, and Hollie did a great job pitching for us," McCullough said. "Allen's a great hitting team. They had four doubles and some other line drives. But when they'd get somebody on, she'd find a way to get out of it. She really competed and worked well and worked out of jams."

The Lady Cats will play their intrasquad fundraiser game today, beginning at 4 p.m., then get back to real action on Saturday when they host Corsicana. The JV game starts at noon with the varsity at 2 p.m.

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