Lady Cats pick up ninth win of the season
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

March 12, 2005 - SHERMAN - The Lady Cats aren't quite where head coach John McCullough wants them to be right now, but they were on the right side of the scoreboard Friday afternoon.

Sulphur Springs used the four-hit pitching of junior Hailey Watson and three extra-base hits of their own to propel them to a 9-2 victory over the Sherman Lady Bearcats at Old Settlers Park.

Though the Lady Cats fanned nine times and committed four errors, they also hit the ball hard and received some exceptional defensive plays from the battery of Watson and Nichole Fender, who threw out two would-be base stealers in the third inning. The Lady Bearcats didn't attempt another steal after the third.

Watson had five assists and one putout, which combined with her five strikeouts, accounted for half of the team's 21 defensive outs. She allowed two walks and four hits in seven innings.

"We found a way to win there," said McCullough, whose team improved its record to 9-6. "Hailey again did a good job of pitching. Defensively, we're still making too many errors, but we made plays when we had to today."

Sulphur Springs used 11 hits of its own - two each by Casey Carper, Ne-Ne Hynson and Stephanie Kethley - to go with six Sherman errors to account for their runs.

The Lady Cats scored two runs in the first as Carper singled and Hynson reached on an error. They came around on consecutive ground balls by Watson and Fender to give SSHS a 2-0 lead.

Sherman tied the game at 2-2, though, in the bottom of the first on a walk, two hits and two SSHS errors. Watson, though, struck out the eighth batter of the inning to leave the bases loaded.

After the first, Sherman got just one runner past second base, while Sulphur Springs continued to hit the ball.

The Lady Cats put up another two runs in the top of the second as Tanna Lampp singled sharply to left with one out and Carper walked with two down. Hynson then drilled a two-run triple into the right field gap for a 4-2 Sulphur Springs advantage.

Carper reached base four times, scored three runs and stole two bases.

Neither team scored in the third, thanks in part to Fender's arm behind the plate. Two Sherman batters reached first on a walk and a single, but she gunned them both down at second.

"Nichole Fender is doing a great job behind the plate. I don't think anybody has stolen a base on her in the last three or four games," McCullough said. "Everyone who tries to steal, she's throwing them out. That's big, because if someone gets on and they try to steal, she eliminates them and then they have no one on."

Up 4-2 in the fourth, the Lady Cats added another run as sophomore Kristen McDonald reached on a bunt, went to third on Carper's single and scored on Brittany Moore's single to left.

Then came Sulphur Springs' big four-run fifth inning. It began with Fender's single to left, followed by Kethley's RBI double off the top of the 200-foot center field fence. Kethley was thrown out trying to steal third, but Blount then doubled to right field and with two outs McDonald singled to left.

Carper then followed with an RBI grounder. She went to third on Hynson's single, then they pulled off a double steal to score a run and give Sulphur Springs a 9-2 lead.

"We had a couple of hard shots, doubles and extra base hits, that moved runners around," McCullough said. "Casey Carper did a great job in the lead-off spot. And, we had some production at the bottom of the order. Kethley had two doubles and Betsy Blount had one double and hit another one hard to centerfield. We hit the ball hard today, and that's good to see as a coach. When you put the ball in play hard, good things can happen."

The Lady Cats won't have much of a spring break next week. They host Mount Vernon on Tuesday, then will play in the Arlington tournament Thursday through Saturday.

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