|Lady Cats take care of business in make-up game against North Lamar|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
April 7, 2005 - Given the chance for a re-do, the Sulphur Springs Lady Cats re-focused.
One night after striking out five times in the first two innings of a game canceled by bad weather, the Lady Cats on Wednesday used the new opportunity to rap out 11 hits and benefit from 10 North Lamar errors to post a 7-4 victory over the Pantherettes at Lady Cat Park.
With the win, Sulphur Springs took over sole possession of second place in District 12-4A with a 4-1 record (13-7-2 overall). North Lamar dropped to 3-2, 15-10.
The Lady Cats received two-hit games from Ne-Ne Hynson, Nichole Fender and Hailey Watson, whose two-strike double in the first inning gave SSHS a 2-0 lead they would never relinquish.
It was quite a turnaround from Tuesday, when the Lady Cats' first six batters didn't put a fair ball in play against NL starter Kaci Crawford. Lightning and rain, though, wiped out that abbreviated game, and it was replayed in its entirety on Wednesday.
SSHS head coach John McCullough reiterated to his girls not to swing at Crawford's rise ball, the same thing that had gotten them in trouble against Texas High in the previous game.
"The biggest deal is to focus on the ball down," McCullough said. "On Tuesday, we were swinging basically at every rise ball she threw up there, and tonight we laid off that. We swung at a couple, but for the most part we laid off and looked for the ball down.
"When you do that, you're going to be able to hit line drives because of the path of the ball and the bat, and that's what we were able to do - especially in the first inning."
The Lady Cats had four consecutive, one-out hits in the first inning, starting with Hynson's bunt and followed by Brittany Moore's double to left, and then Watson drove both runners home with a double over the center fielder's head.
The Lady Cats made it 3-0 in the third inning as Moore reached on an infield error and scored on a two-out throwing error.
But, North Lamar put up a pair of unearned runs in the fourth as Crawford and Macy Allen both reached on hits, but scored on an error.
Sulphur Springs made four errors, which led to all four NL runs. Watson threw the complete game for the Lady Cats without giving up an earned run. She allowed eight hits and two walks while fanning four.
The four strikeouts all seemed to come at crucial times.
With SSHS hanging on to a 3-2 lead in the fifth, Crawford's twin sister, Kara, led off with single and was sacrificed to second. But, Watson then mowed down North Lamar's No. 4 and 5 hitters to end the threat.
The Lady Cats added to their lead in the fifth when Watson opened the inning with a double and Fender followed with a single. With runners on second and third, senior Kaneisha Johnson came in as a pinch hitter and rapped a two-run single off the tip of the shortstop's glove for a 5-2 SSHS lead.
Sulphur Springs added two more runs in the sixth as Hynson singled to right and scored on a wild pitch against NL's Kellie Head, who came on in relief. Fender then walked and scored on Betsy Blount's bloop single.
The Lady Cats held off North Lamar, who put up two runs in the sixth and challenged for more with two on and two outs, but center fielder Kristen McDonald hauled in a line drive for the final out.
Both teams left 10 runners stranded.
"We came back and found ways to score later on," McCullough said. "They helped out, and I wish we would have scored more because we had more opportunities, but we had a few base-running errors and a few pop-ups with runners on.
"The main this is we found a way to score some runs."
Junior Tara Gibby reached base all three times and Stephanie Kethley had a hit and reached on an error.
The Lady Cats will play the middle game of their three-game homestand against Paris at 6:30 p.m. Friday. A win against Paris (2-3, 13-10) would move Sulphur Springs to within one game of clinching a playoff berth.