|Sherman gives it a good shot, but Lady Cats prevail|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
March 27, 2004 -- SHERMAN -- No one said it was going to be easy.
In their quest to stack up another undefeated district season, the Sulphur Springs Lady Cats will find every team inspired to knock them off.
Sherman tried Friday night, but the Lady Cats prevailed, 2-1, behind the shut-down pitching of Melissa McSheffery and a tidy job of opposite-field hitting.
The Lady Cats (16-5-1) remained tied with McKinney North (20-5) atop the 11-4A standings at 2-0. Sherman (10-6) fell to 0-2.
The Lady Cats knocked out nine hits against Sherman southpaw Lissette McCollum, seven of them going to right field, including both of the RBI singles in the fourth inning by shortstop Savana Gibby and first baseman Hollie Watson.
Both of those hits also came with two strikes in the count.
"The girls did a great job of competing," said SSHS head coach John McCollum. "Their pitcher, Lissette, was on tonight. The umpire was giving a couple of ball lengths off the plate, and her being left-handed throwing screwballs away, the girls did a great job of adjusting at the plate. They got up on the plate and up in the box and hit the ball to right field.
"We had a lot of two-strike hits where the girls shortened up, focused on the ball and put it in play. We got a lot of two-strike hits, and that shows the focus the girls are having right now."
Sherman held the Lady Cats to just two runs by not making an error, allowing no walks, turning a double play and throwing out three SSHS baserunners.
But, after Sherman took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on Susan Ogden's triple and McCollum's RBI grounder, the Lady Cats strung together four singles in the fourth inning to give McSheffery the one-run cushion she would need.
Whitney Gideon led off the SSHS fourth with an infield, bad-hop single, and stole second. McSheffery then flared a single up the middle, followed by Gibby's run-scoring hit down the right field line. With one out, Watson slapped an opposite-field RBI single that would hold up as the game-winner.
That's because McSheffery (8-3) allowed just three hits, no walks and struck out 10 in picking up the win. Through five innings, she had allowed just two balls out of the infield -- both hits by Ogden. McSheffery sat down seven of the final eight batters she faced.
"Melissa was throwing well tonight. She has something to play for against Sherman. She plays summer ball with some of these girls, so it's one of those friendship-rivalry deals, and she threw well tonight," McCullough said.
"When the girls get to district, they pick it up a notch because they understand what district's about. Their ultimate goal is to go 10-0 in district this year. They take it game-by-game, but they step it up when they get to district."
McSheffery received help from another outstanding game by junior second baseman Casey Carper, who made a running, basket catch in foul territory in the fifth inning, then came up with an over-the-shoulder grab of a pop in the sixth. Watson also came up big defensively when she scooped a one-hop throw at first base for the first out of the seventh inning.
"In a close game like this, there's always a little bit of pressure," said Carper. "But, you just have to do what you can to win. Sometimes it's at the plate, sometimes it's in the field."
At the plate, Gideon and Gibby both had two hits for SSHS, while Kristen Cross, Crystal Smitherman, and Stephanie Kethley all had singles. Catcher Courtney Aguilar, who picked off a baserunner in the second, hit two line drives, but both were right at the second baseman.
SSHS JV 17, Sherman 0
Terra Jackson, Ne Ne Hynson, Betsy Blount, Cassie McClendon, Tara Gibby, Christina Patchen and Chelsea Stovall all had multi-hit games for the Lady Cats, who improved to 15-3-1, 2-0 in district.
Blount went 3-for-3 at the plate with three RBIs and a triple, while Jackson and Hynson both scored three runs. Hynson, McClendon, Patchen and Gibby, who had two doubles, all knocked in a pair of runs.
Others with hits in the Lady Cats' 20-hit attack were Kaneisha Johnson, Brandi Laine, Tanna Lampp, Kaitlyn Black and Hailey Watson.tson and Lampp combined to throw a two-hitter. They each struck out six batters.