By Tony Adams, Sports Editor
Game one of the bi-district round of the Inaugural Class 6A State Playoffs started off in explosive fashion for the Lady Tigers on Thursday.
A five-run first inning and three-run second inning, spurred by a pair of two-run doubles from Bethany Edwards, gave Belton a 12-1, six-inning win over Garland Sachse at Waco’s Riverbend Park.
Destynie Moore walked and stole second base on Lady Mustangs’ starter Peyton Shugart to lead off the ballgame. Brittany Bass was hit by a pitch to give the Lady Tigers runners at first and second base. Kaitlyn Jones hit a grounder deep in the hole at shortstop that Mikala Douglas backhand flipped wide of third base to load the bases with no one out. Shugart walked Bekah Alcozer, forcing in Moore to make the score 1-0. Edwards doubled to centerfield, scoring Bass and Jones the score to 3-0. Alcozer scored on a wild pitch and Edwards scored on Skylar Stewart’s sacrifice fly to round out the scoring in the first inning.
Sidney Holman struggled in the early-going, walking Shauna McBroom and Douglas. With runners on first and third, Tess Gibbs bunted straight at hard-charging Bass at third base, who flipped the ball to Shelby Hitt at the plate and tagged out McBroom. The great play by the seniors Bass and Hitt helped shift the momentum back to the Lady Tigers, as Holman struck out Emilee McDonald and forced Shugart to ground out to Bass.
Belton (17-5 overall) continued the onslaught in the top of the second inning with two outs. Bass walked and stole second. Jones doubled Bass to third and Alcozer walked to load the bases for Edwards. On a 2-0 pitch, Edwards hit the ball over Gibbs head in left field for second two-run double to increase the score 8-0.
Sachse scored their lone run in the second inning. Savanna Williamson singled, was sacrificed to second by Karley McCullough that Bass made a great play on from her wallet and singled home by MacKenzie McCullough to make score 8-1.
The Lady Tigers answered the Lady Mustangs’ run with another in the top of third inning. Hitt walked and was courtesy run for by Ryleigh Jarvis. Andrews singled Jarvis to second, Moore sacrificed both players up a base and Bass drove in Jarvis. Following the inning, Shugart was relieved by Williamson in the circle.
Holman settled in, retiring the side in order in the third inning and after surrendering a see-eyed single to Shugart in the fourth inning struck out the next three hitters.
In top of the fifth, Belton tacked on a run when Stewart doubled, stole third and scored on Hitt’s ground out.
Douglas reached base on an aggressive head-first slide on a bunt attempt with two outs in the bottom of fifth. On Holman’s first pitch to Gibbs, Douglas took off towards second. Hitt whipped a shot down to second and Meredith Lusby applied the tag a split second before Douglas arrived. Another great Belton play and the Lady Tigers went into the sixth inning looking to put the game away.
And it’s exactly what they did.
Jones singled and forced a throw at second that was bobbled. Edwards walked and Stewart crushed a two-out double, scoring Jones and Edwards increasing the lead to 11 and most importantly, forced Sachse to try and score two runs to push the game to seven innings.
Holman forced Gibbs and McDonald to ground out to Lusby and struck out Shugart to end the ballgame.
Edwards was 2-of-3 with four RBIs, Jones was 2-of-4 with three runs scored and Stewart was 2-of-3 with three RBI. The two-through-five positions in the lineup went a combined 6-of-11 with three walks, a hit batter and nine runs scored.
“They were key in the game tonight,” Belton head coach Matt Blackburn said. “They came through every time we needed them.”
Following a tough first two innings, Holman (17-5) settled in and was lights out. She pitched a complete game, surrendering a run on four hits, walking the first two batters she faced and struck out seven.
“It was an off-night for her,” Blackburn joked. “But seriously, when you can say your ace had an off-night, surrendered four hits and struck seven, you have an absolute gem in the circle. She has been that for us the last three years.”
Lady Tigers make short work of Sachse
Building from the success of bi-district game one’s 12-1, six-inning victory, the Belton Lady Tigers traveled to Hillboro’s Lady Eagles Field Friday evening to take on the Sachse Lady Mustangs.
It didn’t take long for Sidney Holman to establish dominance and shut Sachse’s offense down, as she struck out 12 batter and walked two, while Sydney Andrews had a homer and four RBIs en route to a 10-0, four-and-a-half inning win over the Lady Mustangs to sweep the bi-district series.
The Lady Tigers will play Irving MacArthur, who swept Richardson Lake Highlands. The Lady Cardinals swept their series with wins of 4-3 and 7-3.
Holman struck out Shanna McBroom and Mikala Douglas before getting Tess Gibbs to softly ground out to Bethany Edwards at first base to start the ball game.
Destynie Moore walked and stole second base. Brittany Bass had an infield single to move Moore to third base. Moore made an aggressive move around third base and forced a throw from McBroom. The ball caromed off MacKenzie McCullough’s glove and went into left field, allowing Moore to score to put the Lady Tigers on the board.
The only trouble that Holman ran into in the ballgame was the second inning, when Emilee McDonald and Savanna Williamson sandwiched walks around a strikeout. Holman struck out Carley McCullough and induced a short centerfield fly out from MacKenzie McCullough to end the threat, with two runners on base.
Belton put two more runs on the board in the second inning, as Andrews singled, Moore reached on a fielder’s choice to move Andrews to second base. Bass walked to bring up Kaitlyn Jones with the bases loaded. The team’s most lethal hitter with runners in scoring position (.727 in regular season, .925 in district play) hit a two-run single to give the Lady Tigers a 3-0 lead.
Holman continued to mow through the Lady Mustangs’ lineup, retiring eight batters in a row, including five consecutive strikeouts.
The Lady Tigers hit paydirt in the third inning. Edwards walked and advanced to third on Skylar Stewart’s single and Edwards scored on a throwing error by McBroom. With two outs, Andrews hit an 0-1 pitch over the centerfield wall to put the Lady Tigers up 6-0.
Belton put four more runs up in the fourth inning, highlighted by a two-run single by Andrews to make the score 10-0.
Holman lost her no hit bid in the fifth inning, as Williamson line shot past shortstop. She responded with three consecutive strikeouts to end the ballgame under mercy-rule and ended the series on a resounding sweep.
“Sidney was on tonight and pitched through the rough second inning,” Belton head coach Matt Blackburn said. “The team stepped up and swung the bats well.”
Andrews went 3-for-3, driving in four runs in her best offensive game of the season.
“I was so proud of Andrews tonight,” Blackburn said. “I didn’t think the homer she hit was going out, but it carried and I was happy for her. “
Belton area-round series with Irving MacArthur
Belton will travel to Hillsboro High School to take on Irving MacArthur in a one-game, winner-advances series on Friday night at 7:30 p.m.