|Lady Cats lose Senior Night, 2-0, over North Lamar|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
April 22, 2006 - The Sulphur Springs Lady Cats ended their season on Friday with a script they had seen too many times - great pitching and solid defense, but not enough hitting to go around.
The Lady Cats were limited to two hits, both by sophomore Amanda McGowin, in a 2-0 loss to North Lamar at Lady Cat Park.
North Lamar had just four hits against SSHS sophomore pitcher Marci Womack, but were able to bunch three of them together in the third inning to push across the only runs of the game.
"They got a leadoff hitter on second with nobody out and were fortunate enough to get a couple of hits," recounted SSHS head coach Tommy Grammer. "They were fortunate to get it by the first baseman and the third baseman. That's the kind of hits we've lacked all year long. We haven't had a ball go down the lines. Our hits have been very limited."
That became more problematic in District 12-4A, where the Lady Cats went all 10 games without an extra base hit and averaged just 3.4 hits and 1.0 runs per game.
Their pitching and defense kept them in games, as Womack compiled an ERA under 1.00 and SSHS opponents scored just 1.9 runs per outing.
The season-ending loss dropped the Lady Cats' record to 3-7 in district, 9-14-1 overall. They will miss the playoffs for the first time in six seasons.
"Typically, that's the way the year has gone," Grammer said. "It seems like we've always been one run short and lacking one hit."
Neither team had a scoring opportunity until the third inning when NL's Whitney Shackelford led off with an infield hit that grazed Womack's glove. She went to second on a passed ball and scored when Aimee Rea hit a shot down the third base line that nicked the glove of Brandi Laine. Ashley Endsley then walked before Laine made a nice stop of a ball hit by Allison Felty and flipped to freshman shortstop Brittani Crawford at third for a force out.
That ended up saving a run when Kara Crawford singled home Endsley.
It appeared that the Lady Cats would cut into the 2-0 deficit in their half of the third. Womack walked with one out and was replaced on the base paths by Brittani Dillard, and Kelsey Evans then reached on an error. But, North Lamar pulled a double play on a fly ball to center field and an appeal to second base where the runner had left early.
Sulphur Springs had another opportunity in the fourth, when McGowin led off the inning with a soft single to center and was sacrificed to second by Jenna Davis. But, NL pitcher Kaci Crawford struck out the next two batters to get out of the jam.
That started a string for Crawford as she retired the final 11 batters of the game. She ended with 10 strikeouts and one walk.
Sulphur Springs had a couple of fine defensive plays to keep the game within reach. In the fifth, right fielder Tara Gibby made a nice grab in the gap with the bases loaded to prevent a run from scoring, and then in the seventh, Crawford went down on her knees in the hole to field a ball and flip to McGowin at second for a force out.
"The kids have come up big defensively all year, and Marci pitched great again," Grammer said. "Defense and pitching are solid -and will continue to be solid - and those things mean a lot. If your defense is anchored, that helps a lot going into next season. If we get kids hitting the ball, we'll be OK."
Notes: Before the game, seniors Brandi Laine, Tara Gibby and Nichole Fender were recognized. ... Womack gave up four hits while fanning four and walking one. ... North Lamar finished the season at 4-6.