Lady Cats are impressively solid in 6-0 shutout
By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY | News-Telegram Sports Editor
March 26, 2008 - There's a joke about Washington, D.C. spending that goes, "A billion dollars here, a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money."
In the same way, "little" things add up in softball. A heads-up play here, a defensive gem there, and pretty soon you're talking about a victory.
That was evident Tuesday when the Sulphur Springs Lady Cats played an impressively solid game in just about every aspect in shutting out Mount Pleasant 6-0 at Lady Cat Park.
The Lady Cats had bookend dazzling defensive plays to start and end the game, got a three-hitter from a pair of pitchers, and used production from throughout the line-up to score their runs and improve to 3-1 in District 11-4A. They remain tied with Lindale in second behind North Lamar (4-0).
"Everything's going well right now," said SSHS head coach David Carrillo. "We've been having great pitching, great hitting, great defense. We're getting it done offensively as well as defensively. This is the right time to be peaking."
Sophomore Taylor Clifton and senior Marci Womack combined on the shutout, with Clifton picking up the win with four innings of two-hit ball. She fanned six and didn't walk a batter. Then entered Womack, who has become the closer since returning from injury last week. Her three-inning save resulted in just one hit and one walk with three strikeouts.
The offense gave them some breathing room. Lead-off hitter Mac Morgan went 2-for-3 with an RBI, Katie Dodd drove in one run and scored two, Breanna Mills had a two-run single in the fourth inning, and JaMonica Hall went 2-for-2 with a run and an RBI.
Mills and Hall were in the No. 8 and 9 holes in the line-up and provided a spark in the pivotal three-run fourth inning.
"That's always a blessing. Our whole line-up can contribute," Carrillo said. "If someone's not hitting that day, somebody else will pick us up, and that's something that we've been able to do all year. Offensively, it's been amazing what our girls have been able to do.
"We're trying to keep that team concept and let everybody know that everybody's important to this team."
The game started with SSHS shortstop Brittani Crawford making a sparkling defensive play when she went into the hole between third, slid to her knees to stop a grounder by Elizabeth Stephens, then threw from her knees to get the runner out at first.
Sulphur Springs then scored in the first inning for the third straight game. Morgan reached on a lead-off bunt and Kelsey Evans moved her to second with a sacrifice. Then, with two outs, Dodd lined a hard, RBI double to the left field gap. Crawford followed with a looping single to right, scoring Dodd for a 2-0 SSHS lead.
The score stayed that way until the third when Hall led off the inning for Sulphur Springs with a triple over the center fielder's head. Morgan then lined an RBI single to left for a 3-0 SSHS advantage.
The Lady Cats struck again in the fourth when Dodd worked a lead-off walk and Krista McMahan followed with a one-out single. Amanda McGowin then hit behind the runners, allowing them to advance with a grounder to second. That set up Mills, who ripped a two-run single to left, and Hall followed with a hot shot up the middle to score another run and set the final score.
Mount Pleasant had one final chance to break the shutout when Cadi Bowen reached on a fielder's choice and tried to go from first-to-third on Nikki Casteel's double. But, a perfect 8-6-5 relay from Evans-to-Crawford-to-Morgan caught the runner for the game's next-to-last out.
"It's awesome to see the little things like that. We could have just laid down and given up that run and been OK, but our girls were hustling and made a perfect relay," Carrillo said. "That's a great way to end the game."