|Lady Cats get to Denison pitcher second time around|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
March 27, 2004 -- The second time around was the key for the Sulphur Springs Lady Cats Tuesday night.
After going hitless their first time through the lineup against Denison's Dana Nowlin, the Lady Cats knocked out nine hits over the last four innings in a 9-0 win that opened the District 14-4A season.
In the flood gate-opening fourth inning, Sulphur Springs strung together three straight extra base hits -- capped by Hollie Watson's two-run homer over the left field fence -- to take command of the game.
Watson and Crystal Smitherman each had two hits for Sulphur Springs, which improved to 15-5-1 overall and shares the early district lead with McKinney North and Paris.
"We didn't really put the bat on the ball in the first couple of innings. Then, we got a walk and started hitting grounders and putting the ball in play," Watson said. "Then, we got a double and triple and things got started our way."
The double -- a liner down the left field line by senior Savana Gibby -- brought around Whitney Gideon, who had reached second when her hard grounder kicked off the third baseman's glove, and opened the scoring for Sulphur Springs in the fourth inning. Until that inning, Nowlin had retired none of the first 10 batters she faced.
"Once Savana hit that double down the line, then things started flowing," said SSHS head coach John McCullough. "Hitting's contagious. Once it starts, everybody wants to be a part of it, and we just started putting the ball in play after that and hitting the ball hard. Once it starts, there's immediate confidence"
After Gibby broke the scoring ice, Smitherman tripled past the right fielder and Watson launched her round-tripper to stake the Lady Cats to a 4-0 lead.
"The first time around, we hit a lot of balls in the air, and they were catching them because they can catch," said Gibby, who also made a nice fielding play up the middle in the fifth inning to preserve the shutout. "Coach McCullough told us we needed to hit them on the ground. We started hitting them on the ground, looking at better pitches and not hitting bad pitches. We did a lot better the second time around."
SSHS sent 10 batters to the plate in their five-run fifth. Casey Carper singled hard to left field to open the inning and Kristen Cross beat out an infield single. Melissa McSheffery lined a single up the middle to load the bases with one out. Gibby then hit a one-hopper back to the mound, but after getting the force out at home, the catcher threw the ball past the first baseman to allow two runs to score for a 6-0 lead.
Smitherman then reached on a throwing error, Watson singled up the middle and Cristie Dixon brought them both home with a grounder through the infield.
The Lady Cats were up, 9-0, and with the way Watson was pitching, there would be no comeback for Denison.
Working the outside corner with her curveball, Watson struck out 13 in seven innings, giving up just three hits and walking one. Denison's best opportunity to score came in the sixth when Tate Neasbitt and Shayla Moore opened the inning with singles, but Watson struck out the side on 12 pitches to end the threat.
"Hollie's curveball was outstanding tonight, and she had a real good riseball," said McCullough. "If they started crowding the plate looking for the curve, then we'd bust them in with either a screwball or riseball. But, her best pitch tonight was her curveball.
"She was pretty dominant tonight. She had outstanding stuff, and that's what she is capable of doing."
Watson was helped out in the field, especially the outfield. Cross, in center, ended the first inning by making a running catch near the fence in the left field gap, and left fielder Gideon made a diving catch in the fourth inning for an out.
SSHS JV Gold 8, Denison 0
Tanna Lampp and Hailey Watson combined to throw a four-hitter as the Lady Cats won their district opener in a shutout as well.
Denison never got a runner past first base, as they had two thrown out at second: by centerfielder Terra Jackson in the fourth, and on a caught-stealing in the first.
At the plate, the Lady Cats were led by Jackson, who went 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Also getting hits were Ne Ne Hynson, Kayla Caldwell, Chelsea Stovall, Christina Patchen, Betsy Blount and Cassie McClendon.