Lady Cats drop district opener to Paris
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

March 15, 2006 - Paris had twice as many hits as the Sulphur Springs Lady Cats on Tuesday, but it wasn't their hitting that provided the win.

Paris took advantage of three SSHS errors in the top of the seventh inning to push across an unearned run - the only run of the game - in a 1-0 victory at Lady Cat Park.

The loss drops Sulphur Springs' overall record to 5-6, but more importantly, it put the Lady Cats at 0-1 in District 12-4A.

Sulphur Springs starting pitcher Marci Womack worked out of trouble for the first five innings as she gave up seven hits but stranded nine runners without giving up a run.

Junior Tarra Morton came on for the final two innings, and should have been out of them without a run, but the error bug raised its ugly head.

In the top of the seventh, Paris' Ashley Zachary reached on an error, but was thrown out in a nicely executed rundown between first and second in which right fielder Brittani Crawford made the final tag at first base.

The Lady Cats' next errors, though, would be more costly. Paris' next batter, Julie Essary, reached when her high pop up fell in on the infield. After Essary stole second, Taylor Gates hit a grounder to Crawford, who was moved to shortstop, and she threw Gates out at first. Essary then broke for third base, and when the throw from first baseman Katie Dodd bounced off the third baseman's glove into left field, Essary scored the deciding run.

The Lady Cats had one final chance to tie the game in their half of the seventh when Kelsey Evans singled sharply to left with two outs, but she was stranded at first.

SSHS head coach Tommy Grammer said the loss should give the Lady Cats more motivation.

"I told them I wish I could throw these crutches away and get down there and cry with them," said Grammer, who is recovering from foot surgery. "This game meant a lot to them.

"We had a chance there at the end, it's just unfortunate we didn't close it out. They played with a lot of heart," he said. "We've got to see Paris one more time this year. We gave them that game - they didn't beat us, we just kind of let them have it."

The Lady Cats had a couple of other chances to score. Nichole Fender led off the second inning with a walk and courtesy runner Brittani Dillard stole second, but Essary - who pitched a complete game three-hitter - retired the next three batters in order.

In the fourth, Crawford broke up Essary no-hit bid with a lead-off liner up the middle. She went to second on Fender's ground ball and stole third; but, once again, was stranded. Then, in the fifth, Brandi Laine had a one-out single, but Essary struck out the next two batters to end the threat.

Of the Lady Cats' 21 outs, 15 were either strikeouts or pop ups. Essary finished the game with eight strikeouts and one walk.

For Sulphur Springs, Womack battled to keep the game scoreless. She fanned four and walked one in five innings.

She also got a helping hand from her defense. Fender, at catcher, threw out one would-be base stealer in the second; Amanda McGowin went to her knees to make a lunging catch of a fading pop up in the fourth; and Evans made a strong throw home from left field to hold the potential go-ahead run at third base in the fifth.

"I think the most outstanding thing was that we had two good pitching efforts," Grammer said of Womack and Morton. "That's a good batting team - they kind of brag on how many home runs they can hit - and we shut them down.

"We've got a lot of good ball left to play. As long as we play hard, good things will happen."

The Lady Cats return to district play on Tuesday when they host Mount Pleasant. Today, they are in Arlington playing in the Colts Spring Break Classic. They were scheduled to face Mesquite Horn at 10:30 a.m., Granbury at 1:30 p.m. and Kennedale at 4:30 p.m. in pool play. Bracket play begins Saturday.

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