|Lady Cats put down Greenville|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
March 31, 2004 -- Facing a struggling Greenville team, the Sulphur Springs Lady Cats did what they were supposed to do on Tuesday, pounding out 11 hits in a 9-0 blanking of the Lady Lions.
The Lady Cats put up five runs in the first inning, and senior pitcher Hollie Watson threw a three-hit shutout, setting up a District 11-4A showdown on Friday with McKinney North.
Both Sulphur Springs and McKinney North stand at 3-0 in district. The Lady Bulldogs (20-4) are ranked 10th in state while SSHS (16-5-1) is unranked despite not having lost a district game in over three years.
The Lady Cats know what is at stake on Friday, but first they took care of business at home on Tuesday.
"A championship team takes a team that hasn't won a district game and beats them convincingly, and the girls had that in mind," said SSHS head coach John McCullough. "Last year, we let them hang around when we played here, and beat them 3-0. The girls had that in mind, even talked about it at practice, that they wanted to take care of business and win it the way we're supposed to."
Middle-of-the-order mainstays Melissa McSheffery, Crystal Smitherman, Hollie Watson and Courtney Aguilar all banged out two hits each, with Smitherman knocking in three runs and Watson adding two more RBIs. The Lady Cats had at least one baserunner in each inning and took advantage of their opportunities with 12 stolen bases.
Sulphur Springs put up a five-spot in the first inning to take command of the game. Whitney Gideon and McSheffery each singled up the middle, then with two outs, Smitherman brought them both home with a liner past the pitcher. Watson followed with an RBI single, and after Aguilar singled and courtesy runner Krissy Cotten scored on a delayed steal of home, Cristie Dixon added an infield hit and an RBI.
Those five runs were more than enough for Watson, who struck out 10 and allowed just one hit after a pair of first-inning hits by Greenville.
"Coming out and scoring five runs in the first inning was very big for us," McCullough said, "and Hollie came out and pitched another exceptional game getting the shutout."
In the third, SSHS added to its advantage as Savana Gibby walked and later scored on a wild pitch, Smitherman and Watson both singled sharply to left and junior Casey Carper brought Watson home when she tripled into the left field corner.
That gave SSHS an 8-0 lead. They added to it in the fourth when McSheffery lashed her second hit of the game into left, stole second and third and scored on Smitherman's infield grounder.
"I don't think about it when I go up there. I just go up there trying to get a base hit, that's all I think about," said Smitherman, who along with McSheffery and Watson have hit safely in all district games this season.
"We still had to get focused, no matter what. It's harder to stay focused. It's like you tend to slack off against a team you know you should beat. Coach McCullough keeps us focused by pumping us up between innings."
The Lady Cats also played well defensively. First baseman Lacey Temples made a nice grab of a hard one-hopper to get the first out of the fourth inning, McSheffery almost turned a double play on a smash to her at third in the sixth inning, and Dixon made a running, basket catch in the seventh.
Now, it's on to McKinney North on Friday.
"This game makes us focus," said Aguilar. "It brings us back to the point where we need to focus on McKinney North."
McCullough said the team has managed to stay intent on each game.
"They do a great job on their own. I know as a coach, you say take one game at a time, but these girls really do. They focus on the game at hand," he said.
"The thing about this team is you can have someone get a hit who hasn't been hitting and picking up for each other. If the top of the order isn't hitting, then the bottom is or the middle is. That's what a championship team is about, having someone step up and having someone come through."
SSHS JV Gold 9, Greenville 0
Tanna Lampp pitched four innings of no-hit ball and Hailey Watson threw a 1-2-3 fifth as the Lady Cats stayed unbeaten in district play.
Ne Ne Hynson and Tara Gibby each scored two runs for the Lady Cats, who improved to 16-3-1, 3-0 in district. Lampp allowed just two walks while striking out four, and Watson struck out two in her one inning of work.
The Lady Cats took a 1-0 lead in the first when Hynson walked and later scored. In the second, Cassie McClendon singled and Gibby was hit by a pitch. They came around on RBI singles by Christina Patchen and Terra Jackson.
In the fourth, Lampp led off with a double, Jackson and Hynson each reached on an error and all three scored to make the score 7-0. The final two runs scored in the fifth when Kaitlyn Black reached on an error, Gibby singled and they both scored.