Lady Cats settle for a 4-4 tie against Mesquite Poteet
From Staff Reports

March 18, 2005 - NORTH RICHLAND HILLS - Senior infielder Casey Carper set the tone for the Lady Cats as the first batter in Sulphur Springs' bracket play opener against Mesquite Poteet ace Heather Fortenberry on Thursday, but the Lady Cats ultimately had to settle for 4-4 tie.

Carper fouled off four straight pitches before reaching first in an eight-pitch at-bat against Fortenberry, as the Lady Cats knocked around the Poteet ace for seven hits and four earned runs in the Arlington Spring Break Classic Gold Bracket.

The Lady Cats are scheduled to play against Saturday at 10 a.m. against either China Springs or Lubbock Coronado at Walker's Creek Park in North Richland Hills.

The Lady Cats faced Fortenberry earlier this year and she threw 6 2/3 perfect innings and fanned 12 batters in a two-hit shutout. On Thursday, Sulphur Springs struck out just once and had at least one baserunner in every inning.

"I told the girls, 'Let's see how far we've progressed since we've faced her last time.' " SSHS head coach John McCullough said. "The girls had some great at-bats yesterday. We got seven hits off her and only had one strikeout and scored four earned runs, which is the most earned runs I think she's given up this year."

The Lady Cats struck for a pair of runs in the second inning when junior catcher Nichole Fender lined a single up the middle and senior first baseman Stephanie Kethley followed with another single that moved Fender to third.

Senior outfielder Betsy Blount then put down a squeeze bunt to score Fender and Tanna Lampp's single plated Kethley for a 2-0 lead.

"I was very pleased with the at-bats we had. Betsy Blount had a great suicide squeeze and Tanna Lampp hit a ball to deep short that scored our second run. Then, we put four hits together in fifth inning to score two runs," McCullough said.

"You do that against a pitcher with the great stuff that Fortenberry has, then that's a great job. We laid off her change-up. She only threw a couple for strikes because we did such a great job of laying off of it. When she doesn't have that pitch, you can look for her riseball and fastball, and that's what we did yesterday."

Poteet pulled to within 2-1 in the fourth inning on four hits hits against SSHS junior Hailey Watson, who pitched all five innings, giving up 14 hits and no walks while striking out one.

Sulphur Springs opened up a 4-1 lead in the top half of the fifth as sophomore center fielder Kristen McDonald worked the count from 0-2 to a full-count walk to lead off the inning. with one out, senior Ne-Ne Hynson singled to left and then Brittany Moore drove home a run on an 0-2 single. Watson then brought in the second run on another single.

Poteet, though, tied the game in the fifth on five hits and an error. McDonald kept the game tied when she threw out a runner at the plate from center field.

Watson finished the game 2-for-3 with an RBI, while Fender was also 2-for-3 with a run scored.

The Lady Cats (9-6-1) will finish up their non-district schedule on Saturday, then open 12-4A play against Paris on Tuesday.

McCullough said the team is hitting the ball better. Now, he is looking for more consistency on defense.

"We've got to find a way to make routine plays. If we can just make the routine play, right now are hitting is coming along and our pitching is doing a great job of making the other team put the ball in play," he explained. "Now, we've got to step up behind our pitchers and be consistent."

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