By Tony Adams, Sports Editor
The Belton Lady Tigers Softball, moving forward from the sixth-place finish the Bryan-College Station Tournament two weeks ago, made their way to Round Rock for the Round Rock ISD Tournament last Thursday and Friday.
The arctic cold front shortened the tournament from five games to three, as the Lady Tigers won the first two games of the tournament on Thursday, 16-1 against Crowley and 10-6 against Round Rock. The Lady Tigers were supposed to play Liberty Hill, but the schedule was changed and Belton had a rematch with the Lady Dragons. Round Rock won the rematch 3-1.
The Lady Tigers are now 6-3 heading into District 12-6A play. The Cen-Tex Hit-and-Run Tournament, scheduled for this Thursday through Saturday, has already been cancelled due to poor field conditions at Lady Tiger Field and threat of inclement weather later this week.
Game one of the tournament pitted Belton against Crowley. The Lady Eagles collected their only hit when Melinda Martinez doubled down the right field line. Martinez advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on a sacrifice bunt by Cristi Campbell to give Crowley a quick 1-0 lead. Sidney Holman got the team out of the inning with strikeout and a groundout.
The top of the first wakeup call was all the Lady Tigers needed. Kaitlyn Jones walked and stole second. Bekah Alcozer singled her home to tie the score at 1-1. Skylar Stewart doubled home Alcozer to give Belton a 2-1 lead. Following a groundout, Shelby Hitt’s first hit in her first at-bat of the season scored Stewart to give Belton a 3-1 lead.
Belton got solid plays from Jones and Meredith Lusby at second base and shortstop sandwiched around a powerful Holman strikeout to keep score 3-1.
The Lady Tigers added four more runs in the second inning. Destynie Moore doubled through the hole between first and second base and then stole third base during Jones’ at-bat. Jones missed a bunt attempt on the first pitch and then she tucked a liner inside the right field line into the corner. Moore scored easily, while Jones sprinted around the bases, cutting into the cold and whipping wind. Jones scored to the complete the two-run, inside-the-park homer to give Belton a 5-1 lead. Alcozer singled and Stewart doubled her home for the second time in the ball game. Stewart scored on a passed ball to make the score 7-1.
Holman struck out three of the four batters she faced in the third, giving the offense its most lethal shot at Crowley in the bottom of the third.
Belton sent 13 batters to the plate during the bottom of the third. The inning was highlighted by Madison Winkler’s two-run single. Winkler, Jones, Edwards, Stewart and Brittany Bass all picked up RBIs in the nine-run, 10-hit inning to give Belton a 16-1 lead. The Lady Tigers closed the deal on defense in the top of the fourth to win the game by 15 runs.
Jones was 3-for-4 with a homer and four RBIs to lead Belton. Stewart and Moore each had three hits.
Holman allowed just one run on one hit, walking six and striking out seven.
Following a break, the Lady Tigers took on the host school Round Rock as the darkness took Lady Dragons’ Field into its clutches.
Belton jumped out to a quick lead on Round Rock. Jones was hit by a pitch, Lusby singled and Alcozer hit a fast ball over the centerfield scoreboard for a three-run homer. Stewart singled, Bethany Edwards singled and Winkler was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Following a flyout, Ryleigh Jarvis singled home Stewart to make the score 4-0.
Holman struck out three and walked two in the first inning to bridge the Lady Tigers into the second inning.
Lusby doubled to left centerfield to start the second inning and with two out Edwards singled and stole second to give Hitt another RBI opportunity. Hitt singled home two runs to give Belton a 6-0 lead.
Holman retired the side in order in the bottom of the second inning, getting a great running catch in the right centerfield alley by Alcozer and offense helping her again in the top of the third. Bass singled to start the third inning. Jarvis sacrificed Bass to second and she would take third base as well. Jones reached base on an error to score Bass and make the score 7-0.
Bri Sannem clouted a three-run home in the bottom of the third and Round Rock scratched out another unearned run to reduce the deficit to three runs at 7-4.
Feeling the Lady Dragons putting pressure on and the 90-minute time limit winding down, Belton scored three runs in the top of the fourth. Stewart doubled and Edwards singled her home. Edwards stole second during Hitt’s at-bat and she and Winkler pulled off a double steal during Bass’ at-bat. Edwards scored to make the score 9-4. An RBI groundout by Jones made the score 10-4.
Holman struck out the first two batters in the fourth inning and then the strike zone got cinched up, as she started painting the corners and was not getting calls from the home plate umpire. The tightened strike zone led to two walks and what was thought to be a called third strike ending up a ball, with the next pitch ending up a single to load the bases. Sannem hurt the Lady Tigers on the scoreboard again with a base-loaded, two-run double to make the score 10-6. The next batter, who was the potential tying run, hit a looping liner into the right-centerfield gap that Stewart dove for and came up with to end the game.
Lusby, Stewart and Edwards each had two hits. Holman gave up six runs (three earned) on three hits (two to Sannem, who had five RBI), walked six and struck out seven.
On Friday morning due to the cold and threat of sleet and snow, Belton’s two scheduled games with Liberty Hill and Mission Sharyland were changed. The Lady Tigers were rescheduled to play the Lady Dragons again and Liberty Hill played Crowley in the final two games of the tournament.
Belton was retired in the first inning and Holman escaped trouble in the bottom of the first.
Stewart singled and reached third on a sacrifice by Edwards that was misplayed by the third baseman. Another error on the third baseman scored Stewart to make the score 1-0 for the Lady Tigers. Belton threatened to score two more, but the runners were stranded on second and third.
Belton had the bases loaded in the third inning with two outs, but were unable to capitalize, opening the door for Round Rock.
The Lady Dragons singled twice and walked to score the tying run in the bottom of the third.
The Lady Tigers had the bases loaded again in the fifth, but missed the opportunity to pull ahead.
Round Rock seized their opportunity to take the lead in the bottom of the fifth, as a solo homer and RBI single gave the Lady Dragons a 3-1 lead. Belton left a runner on in the top of the sixth, with the game ending due to time limit.
Alcozer, Stewart and Bass collected the only hits for Belton, all singles. The Lady Tigers left 10 runners on base, including the bases loaded in the third and fifth innings.
Holman went five innings, allowing three runs on five hits, walking just two and striking out five.