Home Bound: Forney ends Lady Cats’ playoff run in area round

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

May 5, 2008 - FORNEY - The bad news for the Sulphur Springs Lady Cats is that they got to the Junior-Senior Prom on time Saturday night.

The Lady Cats needed to sweep a two-game set from the Forney Lady Rabbits on Saturday - which would have made them a little late for the prom - but fell 5-2 in the second game of the best-of-three area playoff series.

Forney had won the series opener 6-2 on Friday and now advances to face Hallsville in the regional quarterfinals.

The Lady Rabbits used some of the same ingredients on Saturday that the Lady Cats saw on Friday - a solid pitching performance from M'Lynn Tillery and an opportune offense.

SSHS sophomore Taylor Clifton threw very well for 4 1/3 innings, allowing just two hits, two walks and one earned run. However, Forney (26-5) scored three runs in the second inning on just one hit and added single runs in the fifth and sixth innings. Senior Marci Womack pitched the final 1 2/3 innings.

"Taylor threw an outstanding game today," said SSHS head coach David Carrillo. "We asked her to step up, and it was a gamble, and she made it pay off. I really think she did an outstanding job."

In fact, the Lady Cats out-hit Forney, 5-3, and had baserunners in four of the first five innings but were unable to score. They finally got on the board in the sixth when sophomore JaMonica Hall singled sharply to left field and classmate Maurie Lewis brought her home with a double down the left field line. Lewis went to third on Forney's throw home and later scored on a wild pitch.

That made the score 4-2, but Tillery sat down the last six Lady Cats in order to preserve the win.

Carrillo tried small-ball early in the game to push across a run, but the Lady Cats couldn't get on the scoreboard. Hall reached on a one-out error in the first inning, Krista McMahan singled to left with one out in the second, Lewis led off the fourth inning with a single, and Amanda McGowin led off the fifth with a single. Three of the four runners were moved into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt, but were stranded.

"We had opportunities, but we just didn't take advantage of them," Carrillo said. "It's not to blame anyone, it just didn't go our way. You've got to give credit to Forney. They've got a great team and a great tradition."

Tillery helped herself out by not walking anyone, and the Lady Rabbits made just one error.

The Lady Cats helped out Forney with two errors in the Lady Rabbits' three-run second inning. Hillary Steede walked to lead off the inning and Stephanie Nance doubled her home to give Forney a 1-0 lead. But, the Lady Cats committed two errors to allow two more runs to cross the plate.

Forney's Monica Davis singled and scored in the fifth, and Nance walked and scored on Caitlyn Everett's single in the sixth.

The Lady Cats ended their season with a 23-11 record. Of the nine starters on Saturday, seven will return next season.

"I'm excited the direction our program is headed. I think the girls did an awesome job this year - we just came up short today," Carrillo said. "I told the seniors that they set the bar high for next year. I expect the bar to be set even higher the next year.

"I was thinking how much playoff experience helps, and I know this will be good for us in the long run. Some of these younger girls got a taste of the playoffs, and now they know what it's like. Forney has been there, done that, and we're just coming out after a playoff drought. Experience makes a big difference.

NOTES: This was the last game for seniors Jenna Davis, Kelsey Evans, Amanda McGowin, Phebe Rutledge and Marci Womack.

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