By Tony Adams, Sports Editor
Outside of Lexi Smith’s 32-strikeout performance for Temple College in their 14-inning international tiebreaker game against Vernon College last Wednesday, there may not be a hotter, in the zone pitcher better than Sidney Holman in Central Texas at the moment.
Fresh off of her four-inning no-hitter in Belton’s District 12-6A opener against Killeen Shoemaker on Tuesday night, Holman hurled a two-hitter against Class 5A No. 6 Canyon Randall Thursday morning and fired a no-hitter against Class 4A No. Snyder on Thursday night. She had 28 strikeouts in 14 innings total on Thursday, as Belton won both games by the score of 2-0.
The wins move the Lady Tigers to 12-2 overall for the season and continued their winning streak to 10 games.
In the game against Randall, Holman allowed three runners over seven innings.
Avery Drake reached base on an error in the bottom of the first for the Lady Tigers. She stole second and third base and scored on Kaitlyn Jones’ single to make the score 1-0.
Sydney Andrews, catching in place of Bethany Edwards on Thursday, caught a runner stealing in the third, as a perfect throw to Meredith Lusby cut down the Lady Raider attempting to steal.
Holman helped her own cause in the bottom of the sixth inning, doubling high off of the center field wall, setting up Caleigh Robinson’s RBI double. The insurance run helped Holman out, as she held the Lady Raiders at bay to end the ball game. Holman struck out 13 Randall batters, hit one batter and walked none.
Drake, Jones, Destynie Moore and Madison Ward all reached base twice in the first game.
In the nightcap against Snyder, Holman struck out the side in the first inning and committed an error in the second inning on a comebacker off of the bat of Claudia Gutierrez. When Gutierrez attempted to swipe second, Andrews let loose another perfect throw to Lusby to register her second throw out of the day.
Belton scored both of their runs in the third inning. A hard leadoff single to right field by Madison Ward was bobbled in right field, allowing Ward to move up to second base. After two outs were recorded, Drake singled, moving Ward to third. Moore hit a tailing slap shot to left field that got past left fielder Alyssa Mollinar, allowing the speedsters Ward and Drake score and Moore to pull up at second.
The Lady Tigers loaded the bases in the fourth inning, but couldn’t extend the lead.
From that point forward, it was all Holman in the circle, as she retired 16 straight batters to close out her no-hitter. It was the second no-hitter in 48 hours and third of 2016 for Holman. She recorded four no-hitters in 2015, which included a perfect game and two no-hitters in a 20-day period.
Lady Tigers upset Class 5A No. 6 Randall
The Belton Lady Tigers ran their winning streak to 11 games on Friday night as they defeated Class 5A No. 6 Canyon Randall 7-0 to wrap up the second day of the Centex Hit-And-Run Tournament at Lady Tiger Field.
Belton has won four consecutive games by way of shutout and has their opponents scoreless for 25 1/3 innings. The last opponent to score a run was Round Rock on February 27 with two outs in the seventh inning of a 3-1 win at Lady Dragon Field. Since that time, Belton has outscored opponents 28-0, with three of the four wins coming against state-ranked opponents.
Sidney Holman struck out 12 batters and walked one, allowing two hits and walking one over seven innings. She has allowed just five hits over the last 32 innings, striking out 58 and walking just two.
After setting down the Lady Raiders in the first inning, Belton got to work in the bottom of the frame. Avery Drake doubled to the left-centerfield gap, Destynie Moore singled and Kaitlyn Jones’ sacrifice fly plated Drake to go up 1-0.
Kendall Mraz doubled in the second inning and Caleigh Robinson drove her home with a double to make the score 2-0.
The Lady Tigers scratched out two runs on two hits and three errors in the third inning, giving them a 5-0 and tacked on two more runs in the fourth inning to make the score 7-0.
A great play defensively in the fifth inning by Randall second baseman Kamry Perez resulted in a double play, her second in consecutive games against the Lady Tigers stalled a potential drive.
Holman was not to be denied, retiring the first 15 Lady Raiders before Bailee Wilmeth singled to lead off the top of the sixth.
Belton’s highlight play of the night came with one out in the top of the seventh, Annika Schwartzenberg reached base following an amazing diving grab second by Drake and a throw from her knees went behind Robinson at first. Following a strikeout, Kamry Perez singled into right field. Ryleigh Jarvis came up throwing from right field and hit an awaiting Kaitlyn Jones at third base, who slapped the tag on Schwartzenburg sliding into the bag and relayed to Meredith Lusby at second base to tag out Perez who attempted to advance. The electric 9-5-6 double play ended the game and kept Belton’s shutout streak alive at four games and extended their winning streak at 11 games.
Drake scored three times and Lusby twice in the game for the Lady Tigers.
Two more upsets on Saaturday, including Class 3A No. 1 West
The Belton Lady Tigers wrapped up the final tournament day of 2016 on Saturday with a pair of impressive wins over state-ranked teams at the Belton Centex Hit-And-Run Classic, held at Lady Tiger Field.
In the morning, the Lady Tigers got a two-homer from Kaitlyn Jones and Belton turned two errors into three unearned runs, as they won 5-1 against the Class Snyder Tigers Saturday morning.
Avery Drake walked and advanced to third on Destynie Moore’s bunt single. Drake scored on a passed ball and Jones worked Snyder’s pitcher for a 12-pitch at-bat. On the final pitch, Jones crushed a pitch over the right centerfield wall to give Belton a 3-0 lead. The Lady Tigers worked Snyder pitching for 39 pitches in the first inning, a testament to plate discipline and approach.
Meredith Lusby walked and scored on an error by the Snyder catcher in the second inning. Moore singled in the fourth, was sacrificed to second base by Jones, stole third base and scored on an error by the shortstop for the Lady Tigers final two runs.
Moore went two-of-three and scored two runs in the ballgame.
Holman surrendered an unearned run, scattering four hits, striking out 11 and walking one in 87 pitches.
Belton had one final hurdle on the weekend: a much-anticipated matchup with West, the No. 1 team in Class 3A.
It was a classic pitchers duel between Holman and Julia Wernet.
And once again, it was Moore and Holman that set up the lone tally in Belton’s 1-0 win over the Lady Trojans.
Maddison Kettler was a complementary thorn in the Lady Tigers’ sides, not only on offense, but on defense as well. She singled in the first inning and the speedy shortstop attempted to steal on Bethany Edwards. Edwards’ pop-time is one of the best in the state when healthy and even with Edwards being two days removed with a bout with the flu, pegged Kettler at second with a laser-guided throw to Lusby at the bag.
It was Kettler that provided the Lady Tiger defense another opportunity to shine in the top of the third inning. Kettler showed bunt on the first pitch and pulled the bat back for a ball. Jones read and reacted at third and took two steps in front of the bag. On the next pitch from Holman, Kettler hit a chopper to third that took a huge hop on Jones. She expertly jumped with her freakish jumping ability snagged the ball on its way up and fired over to Caleigh Robinson at first to get Kettler by an eyelash. It was a play that wowed the crowd and fired up Belton head coach Matt Blackburn and the Lady Tigers.
Kettler responded with two amazing plays in the hole at shortstop in the bottom of the frame, earning praise from Blackburn and Holman for her efforts.
Belton scored in the bottom of the fourth inning, as Moore found the right centerfield gap for a double. Jones sacrificed Moore to third and Holman singled in Moore on a shot through the infield for a single.
Holman worked expertly through the Lady Trojans’ powerful lineup, striking out the side in the fourth and seventh innings and getting two strikeouts two other innings. She struck out 13 batters and walked none. She picked up two hits and the game’s lone run batted in.
Wernet allowed a run on four hits for West, striking out one batter. Danielle Nors came on in relief in the fifth inning and gave up two hits, walking one and striking out two.
The Lady Tigers completed the tournament with a 5-0 record and have won 13 straight games.
No. 6 Belton extends win streak to 14 with 10-0 win at Cove
Kendall Mraz continued her brilliant senior season with a solo home run in the top of the second inning and Lady Tigers broke the game in the third inning, as Belton extended its program-record winning streak to 14 games with a 10-0, five-inning win over Copperas Cove at Lady Dawgs Field.
The Lady Tigers are now 16-2 overall and 2-0 in District 12-6A play.
Belton had gotten word earlier in the day that they rose in the rankings to number six in the Texas Girls Coaches Association Top 20 in Class 6A. It is the first time that the Lady Tigers had been ranked in the regular season polls in several seasons. They were ranked tied for eighth at the conclusion of 2015 and were tied for 10th at the beginning of 2016. They dropped into the “also” section of the poll, just outside of the top 10 following their 4-2 performance at Bryan-College Station.
Sidney Holman struck out 14 of 16 batters she faced in the ball game. Tessa Fain flew out Avery Drake at second base with one out in the first inning and Marisa Williams singled on the second pitch of the fourth inning. Holman now has 161 strikeouts and is 14-2 overall in 2016.
Drake singled, stole second and advanced to third on Kaitlyn Jones’ hard sacrifice bunt to shortstop to start the ballgame. She was stranded at third, but it set the framework for the Belton offense that was to follow.
Mraz came up with one out in the top of the second and jumped on a 1-2 fastball and parked it beyond the left field fence for her second homer of the season.
Drake jump-started the offense in the third inning with an infield single. Destynie Moore followed suit with an infield single and Jones reached on a dropped fly ball to load the bases. Bethany Edwards ripped a two-run double into the left field corner, Mraz picked up an RBI single, Edwards scored on a passed ball, and Madison Ward picked up an RBI double to make the score 6-0. Belton left the bases loaded and was poised to do more damage.
The Lady Tigers put up a pair of runs in the fourth inning, as Edwards doubled, Mraz singled home Edwards and Caleigh Robinson singled home Mraz to make the score 8-0.
Belton hung another pair of runs up in the fifth inning, as Moore singled, Jones doubled home Moore and Edwards’ sacrifice fly scored Jones to make the score 10-0.
Holman had two stretches in the game where she had multiple strikeouts, as she struck out seven and six respectively, with the single by Williams breaking the streak.
The Lady Tigers will host Killeen this Friday night at 7 p.m.