Lady Cats season ends in bi-district round of playoffs
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

April 30, 2005 - McKINNEY - The Forney Lady Jackrabbits were able to clear the bases Friday night, and the Sulphur Springs Lady Cats weren't.

That, in a nutshell, is why Forney left the Class 4A bi-district contest with a nine-inning, 5-1 victory at the McKinney High School field.

Forney took advantage of a bases-loaded situation in the second extra inning when Erica Leflore drove a pitch into the left field corner for a three-run double that put the game out of reach for Sulphur Springs.

The Lady Cats (17-9-2) twice had bases-loaded, one-out situations but failed to score, including the bottom of the seventh.

"It boiled down to them getting the big hit when they needed it. We both had opportunities - they got the big hit with the bases loaded and we didn't," said SSHS head coach John McCullough. "We left the bases loaded with one out, and it seems like every time we come to this field, we do that."

It appeared twice that the Lady Cats would get the winning run in.

Sulphur Springs scored in the third when sophomore Brittany Moore doubled over the left fielder's head, went to third on Tara Gibby's single and scored on Casey Carper's ground ball. When Ne-Ne Hynson poked a single up the middle, Sulphur Springs had a 1-0 lead and the bases full.

Senior Stephanie Kethley then hit a rocket to the left of the shortstop, who made a lunging catch for the second out. Had the ball gotten by, it would have surely scored two runs. It was reminiscent of last year's bi-district contest when Whitney Gideon hit a similar line drive that the Mesquite Poteet shortstop snagged in the webbing of her glove.

Despite striking out 15 times against Forney sophomore Britney Benedict, the Lady Cats had nine hits and put runners on base in all but three innings. Hynson, Moore and Gibby all had two-hit games.

Sulphur Springs had another chance to score in the fourth when Betsy Blount singled up the middle, went to second on Moore's walk and then tried to score with two outs on Gibby's full-count single to center. But, Forney center fielder Megan Dobbs made a strong throw home and got the sliding Blount out.

Forney tied the game in the fifth as Kate Bell led off the inning with a solo home run to right. It was only the second hit of the game given up by SSHS junior pitcher Hailey Watson.

Watson took the loss, giving up seven hits overall with four strikeouts and two walks (both intentional).

It then appeared the Lady Cats would win the game in the bottom of the seventh. With one out, Carper notched a single to shallow left, and Hynson followed with a controversial infield single. Forney coach Patty Dyer wanted runner interference called on the play, in which Hynson went all the way to second base. No call was made, and SSHS had two runners in scoring position with one out.

Kethley again came up and again hit the ball sharply, this time to the right of the shortstop, who made the stop to hold Carper at third.

"I really thought we had it in the seventh inning," McCullough said. "I thought we were going to win it right there. I was going to squeeze with Kethley, but it looked like they were pitching around her - then she hits one that another foot and it's in the hole."

That brought up Watson, who appeared to get hit in the foot with an 1-0 pitch that would have driven in the winning run, but the umpire ruled the ball hit the ground instead. Watson ended up hitting a comebacker to the mound that forced Carper at home.

Then, in the ninth, Forney strung together three hits to go with the two intentional walks and a sacrifice fly by Benedict.

"I knew it would be a very close game between two evenly matched teams, and they were just able to get the big hit in the ninth," McCullough explained. "I felt like it could go extra innings because I thought it would be a very tight game. I told the umpire about the third inning, 'Are you ready for extra innings,' and he said, 'You bet.'

"They hit some shots, and we did, and unfortunately there in the ninth they were able to get that double and score the runs."

Sulphur Springs played an error-free game and had some exceptional defensive plays. In the fourth, Hynson knocked down a line drive and threw the runner out at first, and center fielder Kristen McDonald and left fielder Betsy Blount each made a pair of running catches. Catcher Nichole Fender also picked off a runner in the eighth inning.

Notes: Forney (24-6-3) will now take on McKinney North, the No. 1-ranked team in Class 4A, in the area round. ...This was the second time this season Forney and Sulphur Springs played each other. Both games went nine innings with Forney pulling out the victory.

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