Lady Cats finish tournament 1-3
From Staff Reports

March 12, 2004 -- IRVING -- The Sulphur Springs Lady Cats had a "successful weekend" in terms of experience, but didn't come out of the Irving Nimitz tournament with the record they would have liked.

The Lady Cats finished the tournament with a 1-3 record against four Class 5A schools, with two of their three losses coming on scores of 2-1. Sulphur Springs now has an overall record of 9-3-1 heading into tomorrow's game at Mount Pleasant.

In the Irving tourney, the Lady Cats beat Richland Hills, 2-0, in the opener on Friday, then fell to Irving, 2-1. On Saturday, they were beaten by Southlake Carroll, ranked No. 3 in Class 5A, by a score of 8-1, and then were edged by Irving Nimitz, 2-1.

SSHS head coach John McCullough said the team competed evenly with the 5A programs, except for Carroll, which he said "was clearly better."

"It was a successful weekend in that we got to see four outstanding pitchers. I really think that prepares us for what's coming up in district," McCullough said. "We competed against four of the best programs in the metroplex. Richland has been to the regional finals the last two years, Irving Nimitz is picked to win their district and Irving High is picked to finish second behind them.

"We competed well against those teams; there's not a bit of difference between us and them. I feel good about that, and I think the girls did."

SSHS 2, Richland Hills 0

Senior righthander Hollie Watson (5-1-1) gave up just two singles -- neither left the infield -- in recording the Lady Cats' fifth shutout of the season.

Lead-off hitter Kristen Cross, who's batting a team-high .372, and No. 2 batter Whitney Gideon each scored runs for the Lady Cats, who faced a Richland pitcher with very good movement on her pitches, McCullough said.

"I was very pleased with the effort in that game," he said. "Hollie pitched an exceptional game, and we backed her up defensively."

Irving 2, SSHS 1

Things started badly for Sulphur Springs when Irving's lead-off hitter opened the game with a triple and scored on an SSHS error.

"They tried to squeeze her. We pitched out and had her picked off, and just threw away the rundown play and gave them a run," McCullough said. "They pitcher did a great job of keeping the ball on the outside part of the plate, and we weren't able to hit the ball to right field very effectively."

The miscue on the rundown was one of the few defensive lapses in the tournament. McCullough said senior catcher Courtney Aguilar did a good job of taking control of the game, and SSHS shortstop Savana Gibby twice went into the hole to pick ground balls and throw runners out at first.

The Lady Cats scored in the top of the seventh on Stephanie Kethley's RBI single.

Southlake Carroll 8, SSHS 1

Melissa McSheffery (4-2) pitched a nice game despite the score, the coach said.

"Southlake is an outstanding team. They hit the ball well, they have two outstanding pitchers, and there's a reason they are ranked No. 3 in the state," McCullough explained. "Melissa didn't pitch a bad game, they just hit the ball real well."

Irving Nimitz 2, SSHS 1

Sulphur Springs had chances to put the game away early, but then Nimitz won it late.

McCullough termed it " the most disappointing game of the tournament" because the Lady Cats didn't hit Nimitz pitcher Kelli Dyson when they had the opportunity in the third inning with runners on bae.

Nimitz scored an unearned run with two outs in the bottom of the sixth on a wild pitch, then they came back to score on a bloop single with two outs in the seventh inning to escape with a win.

Despite the tournament record, McCullough said the tournament was just as beneficial as the previous one in Corsicana, when the Lady Cats went 5-0.

"After coming off that Corsicana weekend, where we're just rolling along and everything's going great, then you face great competition like this, it lets you know there's some things you have to work on to ultimately get to the goal you're striving for which is the district champion and ultimately, hopefully, state champion. I think it was a good weekend for us," he explained.

He saw some adjustments the Lady Cats need to make at the plate before the district season starts March 23.

The Lady Cats will face Mount Pleasant at 7 p.m. Tuesday as their non-district schedule continues. They will then play in the Arlington tournament this weekend.

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