North Lamar breaks first-place tie with Lady Cats

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

March 21, 2008 - PARIS - The Sulphur Springs Lady Cats wriggled out of jams in the first four innings on Thursday against North Lamar, but the fifth inning was too much to overcome.

North Lamar plated three runs in the bottom of the fifth to take a 5-4 victory and move into first place in District 11-4A.

The teams came into the game with 1-0 district records, and are two of the favorites to make it to the postseason.

"It was a great game. It didn't go our way in the end, but it was like a heavyweight fight," said SSHS head coach David Carrillo. "There's no quit in that team, and there's no quit in ours, either. Things just went their way and didn't go ours. I still think we're one of the better teams in the district, and nobody's going to talk me out of that."

For four innings, the Lady Cats were the better team on Thursday, taking a 4-2 lead against NL starter Kaci Crawford. But, Ryan Hale came on in relief and picked up the win by allowing just one hit and one walk while fanning five in 4 2/3 innings.

House also had the game-tying hit, looping a bases-loaded, two-run double into shallow right field in the fifth. Rainey Smith then singled to left to drive in the go-ahead run against Sulphur Springs sophomore Taylor Clifton, who worked four-plus innings, allowing eight hits and four earned runs.

Carrillo then turned to senior Marci Womack, who had pitched just once this year due to injury. Womack came in and retired the next six batters in order, two on strikeouts. She was helped out of the bases-loaded jam by rightfielder Breanna Mills, who made a tumbling catch near the line for the final out of the inning.

The Lady Cats took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when lead-off hitter Kelsey Evans worked a full-count walk and scored on Maurie Lewis' double off the left field wall.

North Lamar tied the game in the bottom of the inning on Ashley Endsley's lead-off single and an RBI hit by Chelsea Steelman, who went 3-for-4 and scored twice.

Sulphur Springs then plated three runs in the third when Mac Morgan slapped a one-out double off the base of the left field fence, Lewis and Katie Dodd both drew walks and Brittani Crawford singled sharply up the middle to drive in Morgan and force a pitching change. Krista McMahan then greeted House with a seeing-eye, RBI single up the middle, and Amanda McGowin drove in another run with a long sacrifice fly to left.

North Lamar, though, chipped away with an unearned run in the bottom of the third and then took the lead by batting around in the fifth inning.

The Lady Cats don't have much time to contemplate the loss. They must make the long bus ride to Texarkana this afternoon to play Texas High in a make-up game. The varsity-only contest is scheduled to start at 4 p.m.

"We don't have any time to worry about this game because we've got tomorrow, and they understand that," Carrillo said. "In this district, every game is important and you can't let a loss fester."

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