By Tony Adams, Sports Editor
The Belton Lady Tigers had plenty on the line Saturday, May 7 in the Class 6A area one-game playoff against the Mesquite Lady Skeeters in Glen Rose.
Belton hit hard out of the box and left Mesquite was left behind, as the Lady Tigers scored in every inning during their 12-0 win over the Lady Skeeters.
The Lady Tigers have now won 26 consecutive games and have not trailed in their last 22 games. The Class 6A No. 2 Lady Tigers are 28-2 and will play Rowlett in a best-of-three Regional Quarterfinal round, with all games in Glen Rose. Game one will be Wednesday evening and games two and three (if needed) will be on Saturday.
Avery Drake singled to start the ballgame and Destynie Moore’s single moved Drake to second. The pair pulled off a double steal. Following a fielder’s choice that Drake was called out at the plate on, Bethany Edwards hit a towering fly ball to left field. Mesquite left fielder Trinh Nguyen had the ball tip off of her glove for an error, scoring Moore to put the Lady Tigers on the board.
After Sidney Holman retired the side in order in the bottom of the frame, Belton supplied the senior right-hander with more run support. Madison Ward singled and Drake tripled her home to tie the school single-season record with her 56th hit. The RBI triple put Belton up 2-0.
Holman struck out the side in the second inning and got two more runs in the third, one off of her bat. Kaitlin Jones singled and stole second base. Holman singled home Jones and was courtesy run for by Sydney Andrews. Kendall Mraz’s sacrifice bunt moved Andrews to second and she scored on a single off the bat of Caleigh Robinson to make the score 4-0.
Holman collected her 300th strikeout of the 2016 season on a called third strike to Caitlyn Giles in the bottom of the third inning. She struck out the side and set the Lady Tigers up for a productive fourth inning.
Lusby led off the top of the fourth inning with single up the middle on the first pitch. After a productive groundout by Drake that moved Lusby to second base, Moore singled to put runners on first and third. Jones knocked in Lusby and Drake on an error to make the score 6-0. Edwards misread the first pitch off the hand of Mesquite pitcher Rebecca Taylor and Belton head coach Matt Blackburn walked down to talk to her about going to the opposite field on the next swing. On the very next pitch, Edwards drove a pitch far beyond the 205-foot marker in center for a two-run shot, extending her single-season record to 11 homers, giving Belton an 8-0 lead. Holman doubled and was run for by Andrews. Mraz reached base on an error and Robinson’s two-run double scored both Andrew and Mraz to give Belton a 10-0 lead.
After striking the first two batters out in the fourth inning, Holman’s defensive prowess shined through. Sonia Pena dropped a push bunt towards first base. Holman, unable to put a barehand on the slow-roller, scooped the ball with the webbing of her glove towards first base to an awaiting Robinson for the out. It was a highlight reel play, ala the former Chicago White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle and it fired up the Lady Tigers for a productive fourth inning.
With one out in the top of the fifth inning, Drake hit a hard single to right field that scooted past Caitlyn Little to the wall. Drake hit the afterburners coming around first and scored on the inside-the-park homer. The hit set the new single-season mark at 57. Jones tripled one out later and scored on Edwards’ sacrifice fly to make the score 12-0.
Taylor led off the bottom of the fifth inning with a high-hopper off the artificial turf and went over Jones’ head at first and Lusby was not able to retrieve it off of the backup. Both Jones and Lusby looked up at the sky, wishing Holman’s perfect game bid would not have ended on a play like that. Destiny Martinez sacrificed Taylor to second, Sara Bailey struck out and Giles grounded out to Holman to end the game.
Holman went five innings, collecting 11 strikeouts and no walks and is now at 305 strikeouts on the year.
Jones reached base in all four at-bats, scoring three runs and collecting two hits. Eight Belton players scored runs in the ball game.