|Sulphur Springs set for showdown with Texas High|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
April 16, 2005 - GREENVILLE - Another error-free game and some key two-strike hits added up to the Lady Cats' fourth consecutive win Friday night and set up another first-place showdown with Texas High next week.
Hailey Watson's one-hitter was backed up by the Lady Cats' solid defense as Sulphur Springs downed Greenville, 5-0.
The victory ties SSHS (16-7-2 overall) with Texas High (24-2) with 7-1 records in District 12-4A. The two teams are scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Thursday at Lady Cat Park in a game rescheduled from Tuesday due to statewide TAKS testing.
The Lady Cats have made just one error in their last three contests, and that was a big reason why they were able to record their fourth district shutout. Watson was also a big part of it.
She gave up just a first-inning single to Holly Patterson, though she issued three walks and hit two batters while fanning six. Watson was feeling under the weather, and SSHS head coach John McCullough thought he might have to relieve her after a walk and hit batter put two runners on with no outs in the sixth. But, she retired the next three batters on eight pitches to get out of the jam.
By that time, the Lady Cats had a 5-0 lead. They put up four runs in the third inning on four hits, three of them coming with two strikes in the count.
"Those are great at-bats, focusing, shortening our swings up and putting the ball in play," McCullough said. "Fortunately, we were able to do that.
"The pitcher made an error there that kind of opened the door, and then we came on and got four runs on in. But, the big thing was focusing with two strikes and putting the ball in play and not striking out - not only putting it in play, but getting base hits."
The third inning opened with shortstop Tara Gibby getting the first hit off of Patterson, Greenville's starting pitcher. Casey Carper then followed with another two-strike single, bringing Ne-Ne Hynson to the plate.
Hynson hit a come-backer to the mound, which Patterson gloved, hesitated on a throw to first, then wheeled and fired the ball to third to try to get a sliding Gibby out. But, the Greenville third baseman was unable to get a glove on the ball, allowing both Gibby and Carper to score and sending Hynson to third.
Sophomore Brittany Moore then looped a two-strike, RBI single to right, and senior Stephanie Kethley drove home Moore with a single up the middle for a 4-0 SSHS lead.
The Lady Cats' final run came in the sixth as freshman Marci Womack walked. Pinch runner Susan Dorn eventually scored on another Greenville throwing error.
Greenville put runners on base in four innings, including the seventh when Sulphur Springs turned a round-the-horn double play that went Hynson-to-Carper-to-Womack. Carper also made an outstanding defensive play at second in the third inning when she went to her left, made a lunging backhand stop and threw from her knees to nip the runner at first.
"The main thing is that's a couple of games in a row without an error, so we're starting to play well defensively," McCullough said. "If we'll keep doing that, I think we'll be OK."