|Lady Panthers ousted from Class A playoffs in semifinal round|
|Joseph Elerson | News-Telegram Sports Writer|
May 22, 2006 - McKINNEY - It was deja-vu all over again for the North Hopkins Lady Panthers.
Down by one run with six outs to play on Saturday, the Collinsville Lady Pirates used five hits to push across the go-ahead runs in a 4-3 victory during Game 2 of their best-out-of-three Class A, Region II semifinal series at McKinney High School.
NH junior pitcher KayLee Cotten had retired nine batters before Sammi Russell opened the fifth inning with a single to left field. With one out, Heather Pettiet reached on a single and Brittaney Ross then loaded the bases with a single.
Hannah McKinney struck out for the second out of the inning before Lacey Worthington scored on a wild pitch by Cotten to tie the game at 1-1.
Alix Dean once again had the game-winning hit with a two-run single to center field for the 3-1 lead as Pettiet and Ross scored on the play. Collinsville scored their final run of the inning on a RBI single by Amber Farr scoring Dean for the 4-1 lead.
North Hopkins went for a late-inning rally with two runs in the sixth inning, but it wasn't enough to force a Game 3.
The Lady Panthers got the game to 4-3 in the sixth inning as with two outs, Cotten reached with a single to center, followed by a single from Baxter to put runners on first and second. Cotten then came home as Katy Williams reached on an error for a 4-2 deficit.
Elizabeth McPherson then drove in Baxter with a single to right field, before Collinsville reliever Brentney Swindle got out of the inning with a comebacker to the mound.
"I guess again I kind of get in a lull in my pitches and you get the No. 7 hitter up and you have gotten her out a couple of times and then you think you can get her again and she gets a good hit," NH coach Jim Westbrook commented. "This game was 100 percent my fault and KayLee was doing her job and the defense was doing their job. If you score three runs against this team you should win and when you score four runs in Game 1 you should win."
Cotten pitched a complete-game seven-hitter while giving up four earned runs, two walks and five strikeouts for the Lady Panthers.
The Lady Panthers found a way to get themselves out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the first inning with only one out as Brittaney Ross opened with a ground-out for the first out. Hannah McKinney then reached on an error, Dean then hit a double to right field and Swindle reached on a walk to lead the bases.
Cotten got Farr to pop-out to Baxter and then Amelia Corbett flied out to shortstop Chastin Smiddy to end the inning.
North Hopkins (21-6) scratched out their first run of the game in the top of the second as Williams reached on an error and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Following a single by Smiddy, Westbrook sent Smiddy into a run-down at second and Williams came in to score for the 1-0 lead.
"That was a play," Westbrook said. "I told Mr. (Tommy) Long - who was substituting as my base coach today - to tell Chastin to run and if the catcher was to throw through, that she was to stop and get herself caught in a run-down and we will score the run."
Westbrook said with the way Cotten was pitching throughout the first four innings of the game, he hoped the lone run would force a Game 3 as Cotten had given up only one hit and three baserunners.
"When you get into the fifth inning with a 1-0 lead, you kind of hope that it will hold up, but it didn't hold up," the coach said. "I did hope that it would hold up and KayLee did a better job today of hitting her spots and she didn't overthrow as much today."
Baxter led the way at the plate for the Lady Panthers going 2-for-3 with a run scored, while Cotten, McPherson and Smiddy each went 1-for-3 in the game. McPherson also had an RBI in the sixth inning.
Westbrook said the five seniors on this year's team will be missed next season and each one of them played a major role in the success of the Lady Panthers.
"Some of these seniors have waited their turn to play and some of them have been four-year starters," Westbrook said. "I just can't say enough about Ashly Hooten, Maegan Baxter, Elizabeth McPherson, Katy Williams and their is no other player like Ashley Wilson. These girls are all leaders and we are going to miss them next year."
Notes: This is the deepest the Lady Panthers have gone in the playoffs, according to Westbrook. The Lady Panthers were the champions of District 14-A. ... Collinsville, ranked No. 2 in the state by the Texas Girls Coaches Association, will face No. 13 Bogota Rivercrest in the regional finals. ... North Hopkins has been defeated by Collinsville in the volleyball, girls basketball and now softball playoffs this year.