|Lady Cats need extra innings in win over Paris|
|From Staff Reports|
April 11, 2005 - In a pivotal district game Friday, it took the Sulphur Springs Lady Cats 10 innings to get some breathing room before they outlasted Paris, 2-1, at Lady Cat Park.
The victory put SSHS (14-7-2 overall, 5-1 in District 12-4A) one game away from clinching a playoff berth. Either a Sulphur Springs win or a loss by Paris (13-11, 2-4) in any of the next four games will secure a playoff berth for the Lady Cats.
"It's very important to get the win because now that puts us one game away from getting in the playoffs," SSHS head coach John McCullough explained. "All we have to do is win one of the last four and that puts us in. Obviously, we're shooting for much more than that, but the ultimate goal is to get in the playoffs."
Sulphur Springs got the win by playing error-free defense and taking advantage of a Paris miscue to score the deciding run with two outs in the third extra inning. They also received another strong game from junior pitcher Hailey Watson, who struck out 10 and allowed seven hits in going the distance.
Only three total runs were scored, and it was a long time between each run. The lady Cats scored in the first inning as lead-off hitter Casey Carper drew one of her three walks in the game and eventually came around.
The game stayed 1-0 until the sixth when Paris pushed across the tying run as Kristyn Morrone singled and scored on a double by Ashley Zachary. But, Zachary left the game on the next pitch when she went to third and suffered an injury that was initially thought to be a broken foot or ankle.
Sulphur Springs left at least one runner on base in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, then finally scored in the 10th. Senior Betsy Blount pushed a bunt single and went to third on consecutive sacrifices by Tanna Lampp and Tara Gibby. She scored when Carper's infield bloop tipped off the heel of the second baseman's glove.
The Lady Cats, meanwhile, used their defense and pitching to get out of several innings, leaving seven Paris runners stranded.
In the sixth, two hits and a walk loaded the bases with two outs for Paris, but Watson struck out the No. 5 hitter on three pitches to get out of the jam.
In the seventh, right fielder Brittany Moore threw a runner out at first to short-circuit a potential rally. Then, in the eighth, SSHS third baseman Ne-Ne Hyson tagged out a runner at third and catcher Nichole Fender threw out an attempted steal.
Then, in the ninth, Betsy Blount cut down a runner on a relay throw to Fender to complete a double play.
"I told the girls that what won the game was the great defense. We played 10 innings and didn't make a single error," McCullough said. "We made great plays when we had to.
"Then, Hailey stepped up and had some big strikeouts. It was a great effort by all the girls. All nine girls did an exceptional job on defense and that's what allowed us to win the game."
The Lady Cats host Greenville (8-16, 0-6) at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Lady Cat Park. With a win, they will clinch a playoff berth.