Lady Cats have a chance to get rid of lingering feeling

By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY, News-Telegram Sports Editor

April 21, 2008 - The Sulphur Springs Lady Cats came up one game short of making the playoffs last year. Though they are in the postseason this year as the District 11-4A runner-up, that feeling is still with them.

The Lady Cats can get over it somewhat by beating Marshall when they face the Lady Mavs in a best-of-three bi-district series this weekend. The games will be 7 p.m. Thursday in Marshall and 7 p.m. Friday in Sulphur Springs. If a Saturday game is necessary, coaches will flip for the location after Friday's game.

The Sulphur Springs players don't want to leave the season with the same feeling they had last year when Lindale knocked them out of the postseason after a three-way tie for second in the district, said head coach David Carrillo

"I feel real good about the direction we're heading," he said. "I think last year's loss to Lindale kind of left them with a burning desire to do better and keep playing. Last year, we felt like our season ended too soon, and they didn't like that feeling.

"This year, we feel like we have an opportunity to go a little bit. I think our girls know we have a great opportunity, and I hope we take advantage of it."

The Lady Cats are hitting the ball like no other team in recent memory. In their 10 district games, junior first baseman Katie Dodd is hitting at a .531 clip with 14 RBI and seven extra-base hits, while sophomore outfielder JaMonica Hall is batting .407 and junior shortstop Brittani Crawford is hitting .387 with 12 RBI.

As a team, the Lady Cats have a .324 batting average in district with 22 extra-base hits. Seven full-time players are hitting over .300.

In the circle, Carrillo can go with three pitchers in the playoff series: senior Marci Womack (1-1 with four saves and a 0.90 ERA), junior Kaci Kennedy (10-3 with a 1.30 ERA) and sophomore Taylor Clifton (10-4 overall, 3-1 with a 1.31 ERA in district).

The Lady Cats will have a warm-up game at 5 p.m. today against Rowlett at Rowlett High School, and Carillo plans on giving Clifton and Kennedy some work after Womack pitched last week's complete game.

"Really, tonight is to get our pitchers some pitching, to let Taylor and Kaci throw," Carrillo said. "It's a good practice for us to play someone else. Of course, you want to go out there and win, but there are some other things you want to accomplish. This one really doesn't matter - Thursday, Friday and Saturday does matter.

"We're going to evaluate tonight and see what direction we need to take Thursday and Friday. I'm sure all three will have an opportunity to pitch this weekend."

The Lady Cats will also get a chance to see a good Rowlett pitcher before facing Marshall's Erin Young, who Carrillo said has a good fastball and change-up.

"I think we match up with them pretty well," he said.

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