Lady Cats win three, run out of gas against Horn
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

March 19, 2004 -- NORTH RICHLAND HILLS -- At 5 p.m. Thursday, the Sulphur Springs Lady Cats were trying to catch as much rest as they could while Mesquite Horn players were going through drills.

That's the difference between playing the fourth game of the day and the first.

Sulphur Springs won their first three games of the Arlington Spring Break Classic under the searing sun, but ran out of gas in their fourth game against Horn, the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last year in the regional quarterfinals.

It was Horn's only game of the day -- the Jaguars had played their pool games on Wednesday -- and it showed in the 3-1 victory. The Lady Cats fought through to tie the game with a run in the fourth inning, then after Horn pushed across two more runs in the top of the fifth, Sulphur Springs had the tying runs in scoring position in their final at-bat but couldn't get them home.

"I think if we play them head-up, both of us just coming in, I think it will be a great ball game," said SSHS coach John McCullough. "When you play very good teams when they're fresh and you're tired, there's a chance things like that will happen.

"I was pleased with the effort today. I thought the girls battled well and had a chance there in the last inning to score two that we had in scoring position."

All four of the pool teams that went undefeated in three games on Thursday lost their opening bracket game to teams who had played on Wednesday.

Overall, the Lady Cats went 3-1 yesterday and will finish the tournament on Saturday when they play Odessa Permian at 10 a.m. The winner of that games plays in the consolation final at 2 p.m. at Walker Creek Park.

Sulphur Springs beat Mesquite and Lorena both by scores of 1-0, then whipped Ennis, 14-0.

Senior Melissa McSheffery led the team with seven shutout innings pitching, giving up just two hits, while going 5-for-9 at the plate with a double, inside-the-park homerun and six RBIs. Kristen Cross, Whitney Gideon, Casey Carper and Crystal Smitherman each had three hits for the Lady Cats.

Sulphur Springs went 25-for-66 at the plate, a .379 average, in the four games. The Lady Cats had just four strikeouts in 74 plate appearances.

"We hit the ball really well today and hopefully that will carry over next week when we get into district," McCullough said. "When you see four different pitchers with four different styles and you're able to put the ball in play and get hits against all of them, then I'm very pleased with all of that."

SSHS 1, Mesquite 0

The Lady Cats got off to a good start in their first pool game with McSheffery striking out two of the first three batters she faced. Then, she doubled home Gideon, who had lashed a double over the left fielder's head, in the bottom of the first for the only run of the game.

McSheffery also sandwiched a two-out single around walks to Gideon and Savana Gibby in the third inning, but Courtney Aguilar lined a shot right at the second baseman for the third out.

On the mound, McSheffery struck out seven in four innings, allowing just one baserunner -- a single to Ashley Hitt in the fourth.

SSHS 1, Lorena 0

The Lady Cats had baserunners in every inning, but managed just one run, which came in the second. Stephanie Kethley reached on a line drive to center, went to second on Cristie Dixon's sacrifice, stole third and scored when the catcher's throw went into left field.

Sulphur Springs had six hits against Lorena's Kayla Nehring. The Lady Leopards, conversely, had just one hit, but the Lady Cats needed some defensive artwork to uphold the shutout.

A walk and a single in the third put Lorena runners on second and third with no outs, but SSHS starting pitcher Hollie Watson got out of the inning with help from Dixon, who made a pinpoint throw home from medium right field to keep the lead runner from tagging up, and from Carper at second base, who made a pair of fielding gems.

Watson gave up just one hit and struck out three in four innings.

SSHS 14, Ennis 0

The Lady Cats sent 10 batters to the plate in the first inning and 12 more in the second inning, the only two times they batted in the time-limit game.

The biggest blow was a three-run inside-the-park homer from McSheffery in the first inning. The shot, which went over the right fielder's head, scored Cross and Gideon, who had both singled. Carper then delivered a bases-loaded double to give starting pitcher McSheffery a six-run cushion.

In the second, Gibby doubled home two runs, Aguilar had a run-scoring single, Smitherman and Kethley had back-to-back RBI singles to left, and McSheffery brought them home with a hard shot to the left field gap.

McSheffery finished with five RBIs for the game. She also threw three innings, giving up one hit and no walks while striking out three.

Mesquite Horn 3, SSHS 1

Watson gave up just one earned run on the mound, as Horn scored an unearned run in the second after a walk, a hit and a passed ball, then added two more runs in the fifth by stringing together four hits to go with an SSHS error.

The Lady Cats, playing their fourth game in 6 1/2 hours, struck for a run in the fourth when Gibby beat out an infield single, went to second on Aguilar's single, then scored when Smitherman drilled a shot back through the box.

Sulphur Springs had a chance to tie the game in the bottom of the fifth when Carper and Cross opened it with back-to-back singles, but after a sacrifice by Gideon, Horn starting pitcher Amanda Boyse got out of the jam with a pair of fly balls.

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