By Tony Adams, Sports Editor
The game was five days later than originally planned, but the excitement couldn’t have been paralleled. Belton traveled to Hewitt to take on Waco Midway on Saturday morning under beautiful blue skies.
It didn’t take the skies long to turn red as the Lady Tigers scored three runs in the first inning and added four more insurance runs in the sixth, as the Belton Lady Tigers secured their second district championship in three years at Pantherette Field with a 7-1 win over Midway.
The win ended the regular season at 26-2, on a 24-game winning streak and completed a perfect season in District 12-6A play at 12-0. Belton outscored the district 157-1 and scored 153 straight runs in 11 district match ups before Midway ended the streak in the third inning.
And the team goes to their Prom Night 2016 with a crown in advance.
Avery Drake and Destynie Moore singled to start the ball game off Midway starter Morgan Ling. Kaitlyn Jones’ sacrifice bunt moved the pair into scoring position. Bethany Edwards continued her white-hot hitting with a two-run triple to right-centerfield to get Belton on the board 2-0. Sidney Holman grounded out to second base, scoring Edwards to stake herself to a 3-0 lead as she went out to pitch in the bottom of the first.
Holman walked Taylor Ellis with two outs and Ellis swiped second to give Midway a scoring opportunity. Holman induced Chandler Coskrey into a groundout to Drake at second to end the first inning.
Belton threatened in the third inning, as Jones walked and Edwards singled with two outs. Holman hit a pitch off of the end of the bat to right field, which Haley Moore chased down in right field to retire the Lady Tigers.
Kaitlyn Lavalley singled, ending Holman’s five-game no-hit streak. Aaliyah McCullen sacrificed her to second base and moved up to third on Moore’s walk. Holman’s wild pitch off of the back wall scored Lavalley, ending the Lady Tigers’ 11-game shutout streak and putting Midway to within two runs of Belton 3-1. Holman struck out Ellis to retire Midway in the third inning.
Belton had a scoring opportunity in fourth inning, as Kendall Mraz was hit by a pitch, moved to second on a wild pitch and moved to third on a groundout. Meredith Lusby was down 1-2 in the count during her at-bat, fouled off several pitches and worked the count to 3-2 before walking on the 12th pitch of the appearance. Drake hit a short grounder to shortstop that she came close to beating out had it not been for Ellis’ throw to first.
Midway had a chance to tie in the fourth inning. Coskrey singled and Morgan Ling hit a grounder between the circle and first base in which Holman tried to scoop the ball with her glove to Caleigh Robinson. The ball went wide and Coskrey advanced to third. Ling stole second base on the next pitch. After a strikeout, Taylor swung at a pitch that landed in front of the plate. Coskrey charged towards the plate, as Edwards snagged the ball, made a lunge tag at Coskrey and got the speedy left fielder out at the plate. Lavalley was struck out looking by Holman and the Lady Tiger fans let out a huge sigh of relief.
After being struck out in order by Ling in order in the top of the fifth inning, Midway had yet another chance to score. With two outs Haley Moore walked and Taylor Ellis singled Moore to third, while moving up to second on the throw into third base. Holman induced Coskey into a groundout to Jones at third to end the inning.
The Lady Tigers took advantage of patience and good hitting in the top of the sixth inning. Holman walked and was run for by Sydney Andrews. Mraz was called out on an interference call that moved Andrews up to second. Andrews advanced to third base on a passed ball. Robinson doubled down the right field line to score Andrews and end Ling’s stint in the circle as Midway head coach Ed Trochim lifted her for Coskrey. Ling moved to second base and Lavalley moved to left field. Following a strikeout, Lusby doubled home Robinson and the Lady Tigers led 5-1. On an 0-2 pitch, Drake hit a tailing liner to deep left field. Lavalley laid out for the ball and it jetted past her to the wall. Lusby scored and Drake never slowed down as she scored. It was an inside-the-park home run that excited the Belton side and gave them a 7-1 lead. Asked later if he held Drake up at third, Belton head coach Matt Blackburn laughed and said he never had a doubt.
“No way was I stopping her,” Blackburn said, smiling ear-to-ear. “In fact, I ran down the line with her.”
Holman struck out three of the four hitters in the bottom of the sixth inning. Belton nearly scored two more runs in the top of the seventh inning, as Jones reached on an error, Edwards singled and Holman’s push bunt moved them up a base. But a strikeout and a fly out sent the Lady Tigers back into field to get the last three outs, the last remaining obstacles to a district championship.
McCullen hit a blooper over a charging Jones at third base and was backed up by Lusby behind the third base bag. McCullen sprinted towards second and was tagged out by Drake on an amazing throw by Lusby for the first out. Rhein Trochim struck out swinging and Moore walked, setting the stage for Ellis. She hit a short grounder to Jones, who played the ball on the run and fired over to Robinson, who tagged the head-first sliding Ellis out at first base for the final out.
The team celebrated quietly on the first-base line and then congratulated the Pantherettes on an excellently-played ball game. It was a match-up for both teams that tested their playoff readiness.
Holman allowed just one run on four hits, walked four and struck out 11. Edwards went 3-of-4 with two RBI, Drake went 2-of-4 with two RBI and two runs scored.
During the team’s 24-game winning streak, Belton has surrendered just 17 runs. In the last 22 games, Belton has outscored its opponents 218-8. Since the first game of the district season on March 1, the Lady Tigers have outscored opponents 173-2.
They have played 12 games against ranked opponents this season (either currently ranked or ranked at the time of the game) and have a 10-2 record.
The Texas UIL Class 6A Playoffs will start next weekend for all four of the District 12-6A representatives: Belton, Midway, Copperas Cove and Killeen Ellison. Belton host Garland Thursday night at Lady Tiger Field in a one-game, bi-district playoff slated for a 6:30 p.m. start on Thursday.
Belton downs Harker Heights 10-0 in six innings
The Class 6A No. 2-ranked Belton Lady Tigers extended their school-record winning streak to 23 games with a 10-0 over the Harker Heights Lady Knights at Lady Tiger Field on Friday night.
The win moved the Lady Tigers record to 25-2 overall, 11-0 in District 12-6A with one game remaining and have outscored the district 150-0 in 11 games. The win also extended the team’s shut out streak to 11 games. The team have blanked 15 of their last 18 opponents and haven’t allowed an earned run since their 3-1 win at Round Rock on February 27.
Belton took a 2-0 lead in the second inning when Sidney Holman singled, Sydney Andrews courtesy ran for Holman, Mraz doubled home Andrews and Lusby batted in Mraz on a ground out.
The Lady Tigers scored in the fifth inning with one out when Bethany Edwards walked and Holman his a blast off of the top of the centerfield wall to double Belton’s lead to 4-0. Mraz doubled, Ward singled home Mraz, Lusby singled, Ward scored on an error and Drake walked. Destynie Moore took a 1-1 pitch and blasted a two-run triple make the score 8-0.
Edwards walked, Holman singled and Andrews came on to run for Holman. With one out, Caleigh Robinson hit a shot into the right centerfield gap, scoring Edwards from second and Andrews from first to end the ball game in run-rule fashion.
Holman had a huge night, going 4-of-4 at the plate with a pair of RBI. She also picked up her 900th career strikeout in the second inning. She matched her season-high, career-high and school-record high for strikeouts in a ball game with 17.
Ward went 2-of-3 with an RBI, Mraz went 2-of-4 with an RBI and Moore went 1-of-3 with two RBI. Edwards and Andrews each scored two runs.