A Win By Any Other Name
Lady Cats overcome slow start for 10-1 victory over Hallsville

Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

March 12, 2004 -- Despite three E's and 11 LOB's, the Lady Cats chalked up a "W" Friday night.

Sulphur Springs overcame three errors and 11 runners left on base by pounding out 13 hits en route to a 10-1 win over Hallsville in a game that lasted over 2 1/2 hours.

Lead-off batter Kristen Cross went 5-for-5, getting hits from both sides of the plate, scoring three runs and knocking in three, and senior pitcher Hollie Watson worked her way out of trouble all game by stranding 13 Hallsville runners as SSHS improved its record to 11-3-1.

Cross, Whitney Gideon and Melissa McSheffery, the top third of the batting order, accounted for nine hits, seven runs and six RBIs. Savana Gibby and Watson also knocked in a pair of runs each.

It wasn't the crispest outing of the season for Sulphur Springs, as Hallsville had at least one baserunner in every inning, but the Lady Cats put up eight runs in the final three innings to stretch the game out of reach.

The Lady Cats scored in every inning but the first Friday night, but that first inning -- when Hallsville pushed across a run and SSHS left two runners on base -- was the focus after the game for coach John McCullough.

"I was very disappointed in the way we started the game. We kind of looked like we did in the Corsicana tournament where we started off slow there and gave them a run early and didn't really play well," he said.

"But, I told the girls afterwards that they always find a way to come through. To say I'm disappointed in the first and second innings when we win 10-1 sounds bad," he acknowledged. "But, I have very high expectations for these young ladies, and they have high expectations, so when we don't play well for seven innings, we know we have stuff to work on."

Cross' hard work paid off Friday, as she broke out of a slump with four singles and a double, and her second-inning RBI tied the game at 1-1.

"I haven't been hitting like I should. I just had the mindset that I was going to get on base, and wait on good pitches, which I haven't been doing that lately," Cross said. "It kind of scared me that first inning when Whitney and I started off and got left on base, and that usually doesn't happen. But, we came back and had a really good offensive game."

Gideon reached base on four of her five plate appearances. She and Cross had book-end, run-scoring doubles in the sixth inning following a long fly ball by Cristie Dixon. Cross lifted her extra-base hit down the right field line, and on the next pitch Gideon dropped hers down the left field line.

That capped a three-inning stretch in which the Lady Cats sent 21 batters to the plate.

"We said, 'We're not going to lose this game,'" explained Watson, who improved her pitching record to 6-1-1. "That's one thing about this team is that we always come back.

"The score is 10-1, and we're happy with the win. We're satisfied with the win, but what we're not satisfied with is the slow first inning, and we're going to work on that."

Hallsville scored its lone run in the top of the first when lead-off hitter Jerrica Russell walked, went to second on a bunt single and scored on Whitney Milford's liner down the left field line. Gideon, in left, got to the ball so quickly that the runner from second had to stop at third. Watson then struck out the next two hitters on seven pitches.

Watson finished the game by giving up six hits and five walks while striking out 10.

"Hollie didn't have her best stuff, but she battled through it, and that's what you want," McCullough said. "Don't give in, don't get frustrated, just keep battling."

She scored the team's first run in the second inning after singling and coming home on Cross's single up the middle. The Lady Cats took the lead for good in the second when McSheffery singled past the second baseman and went to third on an error. She scored on Watson's sacrifice fly.

In the fourth, Cross started the inning with single, Gideon was hit by a pitch and McSheffery reached on an error. Gibby then drove home a run with a sacrifice and Watson singled through the pitcher's legs for another run to put SSHS up, 5-1.

The next inning, Casey Carper, Cross, Gideon, McSheffery and Gibby put together five consecutive one-out singles to score three runs.

"The thing about this game is that you might be on one game and off one game. It's just a matter of getting up there, saying you can, and knowing your team's behind you and they're pulling for you, your parents are pulling for you, and Coach McCullough's pulling for you," Watson said.

The Lady Cats' next game is 6 p.m. Tuesday when they visit Mount Vernon. A Wednesday game against Mesquite Poteet, which was rescheduled after rain-out, has been canceled.

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