Lady Cats drop first district game of the year at Texas High
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

April 2, 2005 - TEXARKANA - And then there was one.

In a battle of unbeaten teams for the District 12-4A softball lead Friday night, seasoned Texas High emerged with a 4-0 victory over the Sulphur Springs Lady Cats.

Texas High (19-2 overall, 4-0 in district), returned all nine starters from last season's regional finalist squad, and their experience played a big part in the outcome, said SSHS head coach John McCullough. SSHS fell to 12-7-2, 3-1.

"I knew they were going to come up and play a big game. They've been used to playing in big games, and they stepped up and played a great game tonight," McCullough said. "I think we kind of pressed. I think we tried too hard to make things happen instead of just relaxing and doing what we had been doing the previous games."

The Lady Cats' over-eagerness showed up at the plate, where they struck out seven times, mostly on Texas High pitcher Kelsey Harrington's tantalizing rise ball. Harrington allowed just two hits.

Harrington also had a pair of hits for the Lady Tigers, who accumulated nine hits total against SSHS hurler Hailey Watson, who struck out four and walked none.

Watson did an excellent job against Texas High's top two hitters in the order, speedsters Briauna Birl and Miracle Thurston, who were a combined 0-for-6 with two strikeouts. But, the Nos. 3-4-5 hitters, Harrington, Monica Choate and Victoria Stewart, went a combined 6-for-9 with two doubles, three runs scored and two RBI.

The Lady Cats had a couple of legitimate scoring opportunities, but could never cash in against Harrington.

Casey Carper led off the game by reaching on an error after a 10-pitch at-bat against Harrington, but she was stranded at third. Then, in the fourth, sophomore outfielder Brittany Moore worked a full-count walk and Watson followed with the Lady Cats' first hit of the game - a single to left.

But, with two outs, Stephanie Kethley hit a hard grounder to the left of second base only to have Thurston make a diving grab and touch second base for the force out.

In the sixth, Carper led off with bunt single, but with one out, Moore hit a hard grounder to Thurston, who threw to first and then the Lady Tigers caught Carper trying to advance to third for the double play.

"I think a lot of it tonight was we were just pressing and trying too hard, trying to make things happen instead of just relaxing and letting things take care of themselves," McCullough said. "But, you can't take anything away from them. They do a great job defensively, they have a great pitcher who moves the ball around, and offensively they put two or three hits together in an inning a couple of times to get some runs in."

Texas High broke open the scoreless tie in the bottom of the second on back-to-back doubles by Choate and Stewart. They added another run in the third when No. 9 hitter Natalie Peek singled off the third-base bag and eventually scored on Choate's RBI single up the middle.

Then, in the sixth, the Lady Tigers put up two more runs on four hits - the big blow being Kayla Smith's two-run single.

The game was crisply played in less than 80 minutes with each team committing a single error.

"That's the first time a lot of our girls have been in a big game," said McCullough, who returned just one full-time starter from last year's team. "You're playing for first place in district, and both teams are undefeated playing at their place. That's part of the learning process, and I think a lot of them were really nervous."

The Lady Cats face another big game on Tuesday when they host North Lamar at 7 p.m. The Pantherettes were 2-1 going into Friday's contest with Paris.

"I think it's a learning process, and hopefully we can take care of business Tuesday night and the rest of the season," McCullough said.

JUNIOR VARSITY

SSHS Gold 12, Texas High 1

The Lady Cats bombarded Texas High with 10 hits and six walks, and Marci Womack struck out 10 while giving up a single hit as the SSHS Gold improved to 4-0 in district.

Jordan Anderson went 2-for-3 with a walk, an RBI and two scored twice, Jordan Godwin had a pair of hits and two RBI, and Kaytlin Black added two hits and scored a run for the Lady Cats (17-1 overall).

Kelsey Evans added a hit, a run and an RBI, Laine had two RBI and a walk, Tarra Morton recorded a hit, a run and two stolen bases, KayLee Cotton added two walks and an RBI, and Kara Lopez had two RBI, a walk and a triple.

Womack had a hit, two RBI and scored twice at the plate. On the mound, she pitched six innings, giving up one hit and one run.

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