Softball: Decatur holds on against Alvarado

With the Region I bi-district contest between Decatur and Alvarado tied at 2, the top of the sixth inning was unconventional to say the least.

Two illegal pitches and three walks allowed Brianna Crooks to score without the ball touching the bat.

With Taylor Butler and pitcher Caitlin Butler on base, Brittany Roberts laid a perfect bunt down the first base line to load the bases.

An RBI grounder to second from Braelynn Hanes and a sacrifice fly to center by Taryn Trull gave Decatur a 5-2 advantage for the remainder of the game.

“She had illegal pitches and that scored our runs,” Decatur coach Carly Cloud explained. “She didn’t have both feet on the rubber. Her feet were split and they caught that and made the call.”

Decatur’s other two runs came in the top of the fifth inning.

Caitlin Butler hit a hard grounder to center to start things off. She was followed by Brittany Roberts who ran out a bunt down the first-base line.

That set up Kelsie Roberts, who hit a blooper over the shortstop’s head to left field, scoring Butler.

Two batters later, Trull walked before Jenny Bradford smashed a ball to left field that brought in another run to put the Lady Eagles up 2-0.

“We talked about struggling early on with our bats,” Cloud said. “They made adjustments as the game went on and fought their little hearts out.”

In the bottom of the fifth, a walk, two stolen bases and a pair of bunt singles allowed Alvarado to score two runs and tie the game up, before Decatur’s three-run sixth inning.

The late offensive burst showcased the patience of the Decatur team.

“We were trying to get used to her speed,” second-baseman Kelsie Roberts said. “It was a little different than what we’ve seen before. She wasn’t putting the ball right down the middle either. Once we started hitting, we knew we could keep it going.”

For seniors like Hanes, the win was special and allowed them to make up for losing the bi-district game last season.

“We were determined to win for each other,” she said. “It feels awesome. Last year we didn’t win. That’s a great feeling for us seniors who really wanted to have that success.”

Caitlin Butler struck out seven Alvarado batters in her seven innings in the pitcher’s circle.

Decatur moves on to the area round to face Burkburnett, the runner-up from District 5-4A.

Burkburnett finished the regular season with a 13-7 record, beating Stephenville in consecutive games to win the three-game bi-district series.

Against Stephenville, Burkburnett used a two-pitcher rotation with Madison Blair starting Game 1, and Bragg in Game 2.

Blair struck out eight while allowing six hits and two runs in her seven innings in Game 1.

Bragg pitched a seven-inning shutout in Game 2, allowing six hits while striking out four and walking two.

Burkburnett had nine hits in their first game against Stephenville and 10 in the second game.

Decatur and Burkburnett play at 7 p.m. Tursday in Henrietta.

DECATUR 5, ALVARADO 2

Decatur … 000 … 023 … 0 … 5 … 11 … 5
Alvarado … 000 … 020 … 0 … 2 … 2 … 3

WP: Caitlin Butler LP: Brianna Moreno

2B: Alvarado, Sidney Huddleston

RBI: Alvarado, Mallory Bennett, Clarissa Robles; Decatur, Kelsie Roberts, Taryn Trull, Braelynn Hanes, Jenny Bradford

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Softball: Paradise faces former rival Brock

When the Paradise Lady Panthers take the field for their Class 3A Region II area series they will see a familiar face – Brock.

“They were a district opponent for a lifetime,” said Paradise coach Karin Essig.

Ready for Next Step

READY FOR NEXT STEP – Paradise pitcher Reagan Taylor will lead the Lady Panthers against Brock in an area round series starting Friday. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

The Lady Panthers take on Brock in game one at 6 p.m. Friday in Argyle. Game two is slated for 2 p.m. Saturday in Graford.

“We’re excited to play them. Last year, we had a rivalry,” said Paradise pitcher Reagan Taylor. “We want to beat them because they’re Brock.”

Brock earned the spot in the area round with a sweep of Maypearl in bi-district. The Lady Eagles won 5-0 and 8-6.

Paradise earned the trip to the second round with its 5-3 win over Whitesboro in 13 innings.

Essig expects that tough game to benefit her team moving forward.

“It helped the kids learn about themselves,” Essig said. “There was a number of times they had baserunners and we stayed solid and played good defense.”

Paradise senior catcher Jett Preather agreed that game helped her team.

“Our team stayed strong after I made that error,” Preather said. “Our bottom of the order stepped up and got big hits.

“Now, we don’t have the first [playoff] game jitters. Our newbies are not scared to mess up anymore.”

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Softball: Working extra – Davis’ triple lifts Paradise to win in 13th

For her sixth at-bat of the game Thursday in the top of the 13th inning, Brooklynn Davis took a simple approach.

“I was looking for one right down the middle and laying off the riseball,” said the Paradise sophomore. “I found one I wanted and drove it.

“I thought it was going out.”

So Close

SO CLOSE – Paradise’s Kailey Thomas describes how close she came to hitting a home run on her game-tying triple. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

The ball instead hit the center-field fence for a two-out, two-run triple that broke a deadlock at 3 and gave the Paradise Lady Panthers the 5-3 extra-inning victory over the Whitesboro Lady Cats at Denton’s Lady Bronco Field in the Class 3A Region II bi-district game.

“It was the best feeling ever,” Davis said about the triple. “I knew it was over.”

IN RIGHT SPOT – Paradise’s Allie Rutledge glides in to catch a ball during the Lady Panthers’ win over Whitesboro Thursday in 13 innings. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

The Lady Panthers (18-7) will move on to play Brock or Maypearl in the area round next week. Brock leads the series over Maypearl after winning game one 5-0.

Davis’ triple was one of just four hits for the Lady Panthers against Whitesboro pitcher Katie Dean over 13 innings. Dean struck out 17, keeping Paradise off balance with a tough changeup and riseball.

“Their pitcher pitched a great game,” said Paradise coach Karin Essig. “They were a great team. It took everyone to beat them.”

Dean did issue eight walks including the two to Kailey Thomas and Bailey Higgins just before Davis’ game-winning hit.

Dean shut out Paradise through the first five innings. In the top of the sixth an error and walk opened the door for Thomas, who drove a two-out triple to center field. Thomas then came home on a single by Bailey Higgins to give Paradise a 3-2 lead.

That lead was brief. Whitesboro scored with two outs in the bottom of the sixth on a single by Courtnee McAdoo. Courtesy runner Jacklynn Cogburn narrowly got to the plate as Paradise catcher Jett Preather couldn’t handle a throw from right field to get down the tag.

The game stayed tied for seven more innings as Dean and Paradise starter Reagan Taylor kept putting up zeros on the scoreboard.

Taylor struck out 13 and limited Whitesboro to three runs – two earned – on 10 hits over 13 innings.

In tight situations, Taylor was at her best.

In the 10th, she allowed leadoff singles to Casey Lang and Dean. Taylor then fielded a bunt on a squeeze play and flipped the ball to Preather at the plate to get the sliding Lang. She then got a couple of infield flies to get out of the inning.

Taylor also allowed the lead-off hitters in the next three innings to reach but left them stranded on the bases to keep the game tied.

“I just had to focus as hard as I could and was not going to give up on anything,” Taylor said. “[Our defense] did so good. We’ve been working so hard to get our defense solid.

“This gets our heads up and gives us a lot of needed confidence.”

PARADISE 5, WHITESBORO 3

Paradise … 000 … 003 … 000 … 000 … 2 … 5 … 4 … 1
Whitesboro … 101 … 001 … 000 … 000 … 0 … 3 … 10 … 2

WP: Reagan Taylor. LP: Katie Dean

3B: Paradise – Kailey Thomas, Brooklynn Davis. RBI: Paradise – Thomas 2; Davis 2; Bailey Higgins. Whitesboro – Gabbie Case, Devyn Power, Courtnee McAdoo.

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Softball: Sissies outlast Venus in nine innings

Softball: Sissies outlast Venus in nine innings

The Bridgeport Sissies played two extremely close games during district play.

In their next-to-last district game against Decatur, the Bridgeport Sissies gave up the tying and go-ahead run in the final inning.

Winning Emotion

WINNING EMOTION – Bridgeport Sissies pile in the pitching circle Thursday after their victory over Venus in the Class 4A Region I bi-district game. Messenger Photo by Mack Thweatt

Before that game, Castleberry had the tying and go-ahead run on second and third base before the Sissies got out of it to win the game.

With a 2-0 lead for much of the game, it looked like the bi-district game against Venus could become another late-inning classic.

“We had a similar situation with Castleberry,” said Bridgeport coach Ruben Garza. “We got through that and maybe those games gave us confidence. Being in that situation before may have helped us.”

The experience paved the way for the Sissies’ 4-2 win over Venus in nine innings Thursday in the Class 4A Region I bi-district game.

With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Venus got two singles to put runners on the corners.

A grounder to short gave the Sissies two outs, but Venus pitcher Jessica Smith hit a blast over the head of Bridgeport center fielder Shiloh Weirich and two runs scored to tie the game.

With Smith on third and the game tied, Sissies’ pitcher Hailey Hollingsworth knew she had to be at her best.

“Of course there were nerves, but our team has a lot of faith and a lot of hope so we knew we could pull out anything,” she said.

Hollingsworth struck out Ashley Faber to end the seventh tied at 2.

Both teams went scoreless in the eighth inning, but Bridgeport struck gold in the top of the ninth.

Taby Rivera led off with a blooper single to left field, and Hollingsworth used a sacrifice bunt to move Rivera into scoring position.

The only dropped-third-strike of the game put Diana Garcia on base, and moved Rivera to third.

Kinsley Turner followed with a dinker that was fielded by Smith halfway down the first-base line.

Smith elected to throw home and stop Rivera from scoring, but the throw was late.

Meanwhile, Tuner had the shrewdness to take second in the process, getting in a rundown and distracting the Venus defense from Garcia who made it home without any resistance.

Turner won the rundown after an errant throw to first, winding up on second base with a two-run lead.

Two strikeouts ended the top of the ninth.

A throwing error and a grounder to right put two Venus runners on in the bottom of the ninth with one out. But Hollingsworth buckled down again, forcing a pop-up to third baseman Ryhan Read, and a grounder to second baseman Garcia to end the game and give Bridgeport only their fourth bi-district win in team history.

“It feels like a big weight lifted off of you,” Garza said. “It’s just been a long time. It took a lot of hard work. This has been six years in the making. I told these girls they had a special group. I told them we would be in the playoffs. Nothing comes easy in the playoffs. Hats-off to Venus. They played a heck of a game. That’s a good ball team over there. We got the breaks and the bunts when we had to, and we got two great pinch hits.”

Those two pinch hits, accounted for two of Bridgeport’s six hits, resulting in an RBI and a run.

The Sissies’ first run came in the third inning.

Turner worked a five-pitch walk with one out and Hayley Davidson moved her to third with a line drive single to left field.

Shiloh Weirich’s short fly ball to left scored Turner to give Bridgeport the first run of the game.

In the fifth, Davidson walked and stole second and third base before pinch-hitting Liz Weidemann drove her in with a line drive single to left.

Hollingsworth struck out eight batters in nine innings in the pitchers circle.

Davidson went 2-for-4 with a walk, a triple and a run-scored, and Turner had one hit, a walk, a run-scored and two RBIs.

The Sissies will face Vernon in the second round, playing in either Henrietta or Wichita Falls.

The time, date and location has not yet been finalized.

Tough Play

TOUGH PLAY- Bridgeport’s Diana Garcia takes a spill at second after making a force out. Messenger Photo by Mack Thweatt

BRIDGEPORT 4, VENUS 2

Bridgeport … 001 … 010 … 002 … 4 … 7 … 5
Venus … 000 … 000 … 200 … 2 … 7 … 4

WP: Hailey Hollingsworth, LP: Jessica Smith

3B: Bridgeport, Hayley Davidson

RBI: Bridgeport, Kinsley Turner 2, Shiloh Weirich, Liz Weidemann; Venus, Jessica Smith 2

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Softball: Boyd falls in game one

With no score in the bottom of the second, a Pilot Point error scored Chandler Hammon.

Later that inning, an illegal pitch brought Kristen Rasbury home to give Boyd a 2-0 lead.

For three more innings the Lady Yellowjackets remained in front until Pilot Point broke out for four runs in the sixth inning off of two hits and three crucial Boyd errors. Pilot Point went on for the 5-3 win in game one of the Class 3A Region II bi-district series.

A passed ball in the bottom of the sixth scored Savannah Foster, but the Lady Yellowjackets could never get back into the playoff game they had led for several innings.

“We played hard,” said Boyd coach Brandon Hopkins. “We had one bad inning where they scored four runs off of three errors. They out hit us 11-3 but we had our chances. Chelsea [Arlington] pitched well with no walks and stranded a lot of runners.”

Arlington pitched all seven innings for Boyd, striking out four.

Though Boyd only managed three hits, they found a way to put three runs on the board against Pilot Point pitcher Preslee Gallaway.

They will try to avenge the loss in Game 2 of the series at 2 p.m. Saturday in Argyle.

PILOT POINT 5, BOYD 3

Pilot Point … 000 … 014 … 0 … 5 … 10 … 1
Boyd … 020 … 001 … 0 … 3 … 3 … 3

WP: Preslee Gallaway, LP: Chelsea Arlington

2B: Pilot Point, Xena Barbour 3; Boyd, Chandler Hammon

RBI: Pilot Point, Katie Mascari, Allison Ray, Marissa Morris

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Softball: Alvord takes first game

The Lady Bulldogs won the first game of their three-game Class 2A Region II bi-district series against Perrin Thursday night 8-5.

Alvord rattled off four runs in the first inning before Perrin scored three to make it a one-run game.

The Lady Bulldogs matched their first-inning efforts in the second, putting up four more runs to make it an 8-3 game.

Though Perrin posted two more runs throughout the game, Alvord held on to Game 1.

“We didn’t play as good as we can play, but we played well enough to win the game,” Alvord coach Tony Brazeal said.

Though Brazeal could not be at the game due to a two-game suspension, he did mention that the stat sheet had more errors than usual.

Kaely Beaver was a bright spot for Alvord’s offense. Beaver went 3-for-4 with two triples and a single.

Alvord will play Perrin again at 2 p.m. Saturday at Chisholm Trail High School.

The Lady Bulldogs need just one more win to close out the three-game series.

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Softball: Alvord coach suspended two games

Alvord head coach Tony Brazeal was suspended for two games by the UIL after being ejected from an Alvord JV softball game.

The ejection came after the Alvord varsity team beat Lindsay in a district rivalry game on April 10.

Alvord won the varsity game 13-3, but Brazeal was tossed for words said during the following JV game.

According to Alvord athletic director Pete Hart, the situation was unlike a typical baseball/softball coach ejection.

“There was no big scene,” Hart said. “There was no kicking dirt or cursing. I was at the game and I didn’t know he was ejected.”

Hart also noted that frustration over questionable calls during the varsity game may have spilled over to the JV game.

Hart said he doesn’t want anyone on his staff to push an official to the point of an ejection, but he also believes the umpire may have let something said during a previous game effect his judgment.

“As coaches, we have to understand that officials are in charge of the game,” he added. “They have the power, so if they get upset, that’s a risk the coach takes.”

Brazeal spoke briefly Monday afternoon after the suspension was handed down.

“It was a completely regrettable situation,” he said.

The suspension comes at an unfortunate time for the Lady Bulldogs who begin their opening playoff round against Perrin-Whitt Thursday at Chisholm Trail High School.

No official time has been placed, but the game will likely be played at either 6 or 7 p.m.

Game 2 and 3 (if needed) of the best-of-three series will begin at 6:30 Saturday.

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Softball: Lady Panthers take 9-3A championship after Holliday loss

In a wild turn of events, the Paradise Lady Panthers captured the 9-3A championship with an improbable Holliday loss and a win over Nocona Saturday.

SWING AWAY – Brooklynn Davis was a force in Paradise’s final district game against Nocona. Davis went 2-for-2, scored two runs and walked twice. Davis and her teammates don’t have much time to celebrate their 9-3A district championship. They play Whitesboro Thursday night in the first round of the playoffs. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

After a 4-2 loss to Holliday on Paradise’s senior night last Tuesday, most thought the two teams would tie in record, giving Holliday the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Lady Panthers.

The surprising twist happened when Holliday lost to Bowie for the second time this season, dropping their record to 11-3 and allowing the 12-2 Lady Panthers to move into first.

According to coach Karin Essig, the Lady Panthers were watching the Paradise baseball game when they heard the news that Holliday had lost.

“It was pretty nice,” Essig said. “The kids were pretty pumped when they found out they had won it.”

Paradise will play Whitesboro, the fourth seed from District 10-3A, in the bi-district round.

“We feel good going into it,” Essig said. “Everybody’s healthy and ready to go.”

The single-game playoff will begin at 7 p.m. Thursday at Denton High School.

Reagan Taylor pitched six innings and allowed just one hit, while striking out 13 batters in the 8-1 win over Nocona.

Shelby Barclay drove in two Paradise runs and Brooklynn Davis scored twice, while going 2-for-2 at the plate with a double and two walks.

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Softball: Lady Panthers fall short in showdown

Things could have been much worse for the Lady Panthers heading into the bottom of the seventh.

GOT IT – Bailey Higgins and Kailey Thomas run for a fly ball during Paradise’s loss to Holliday Tuesday. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

After giving up two runs in the third inning, Paradise stopped the bleeding by getting two massively important outs with Holliday runners on the corners.

Again in the fourth inning, after allowing two runs, the Panthers got a desperate out with the bases loaded.

A Brooklynn Davis single to left field scored Paradise’s first run in the bottom of the fourth, and a Reagan Taylor double in the bottom of the fifth scored Shelby Barclay and shrunk the Panthers deficit to two.

In the bottom of the seventh with the district lead on the line, both Courtney Cline and Barclay grounded out to start the inning.

Down to their last out, Paradise’s Allie Rutledge hit a single to left field and Taylor followed by working a walk.

Jett Preather’s line drive single to left loaded the bases, setting things up for freshman Kailey Thomas to be the hero on Paradise’s senior night.

Though Thomas hit a hard liner to left field, the ball’s course was almost perfectly set for the glove of the Holliday outfielder who made the catch and ended the 4-2 loss.

Taylor started the game for the Panthers and pitched four innings, striking out eight, walking four, allowing six hits and four runs.

Thomas pitched the final three innings and the freshman allowed no hits, walks or runs, while striking out three.

“I thought she did a great job,” Essig said. “I’m proud of her. I think the kid just comes and plays. You ask her to make something work and she does it. She really wants to be good at this and she’s stepped up big for us all year.”

After the loss, the Lady Panthers celebrated senior night with a ceremony that honored senior players, their parents, grandparents and senior PA announcer Joey Lopez.

Essig expressed her regrets that her seniors couldn’t get the win over Holliday on the special night.

“I love those seniors,” Essig said. “They had to grow up at the varsity level and I couldn’t be prouder of them. They knew today was big and they really wanted to win that. They wanted to take first place tonight.”

As for the reason they lost, Essig said that they just couldn’t get the bats going until later in the game.

Taylor thinks that the loss could be a blessing in disguise as the Lady Panthers prepare for the playoffs.

“I think this loss will definitely fuel us,” the senior star said. “We have to work hard for the playoffs.”

Paradise’s district record drops to 11-2, tied with Holliday atop 9-3A, but gives the head-to-head advantage to Holliday who won both contests.

The district champion and runner-up from 9-3A will face either Whitesboro or Callisburg in the first playoff round, depending on the final contests of the season.

Whitesboro is currently third in 10-3A with a 9-4 record, but must face 12-1 Howe in the final game of district.

Callisburg has an 8-5 record in 10-3A with a probable win against 4-9 Gunter to close the season.

The winner of district 9-3A will play the fourth seed from 10-3A, and the second seed from 9-3A will play the third seed from 10-3A.

HOLLIDAY 4, PARADISE 2

WP: Jennifer Wright LP: Reagan Taylor

2B: Paradise, Reagan Taylor

RBI: Holliday, Jennifer Wright, Emily Dyes, Beka Hardin; Paradise, Reagan Taylor, Brooklynn Davis

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Softball: Alvord blanks Valley View

Alvord pitcher Mikena Mader threw a one-hit, 15-strikeout shutout against Valley View Tuesday night in possibly her best performance of the season.

Though much of the team struggled offensively, Reagan Guthrie went 3-for-3, while Brittany Gayler, Ashton Peterson, Katelyn Schedcik and Kaely Beaver each drove in a run.

The 5-0win puts Alvord back on track after their loss to Collinsville, and the Lady Bulldogs remain second in 12-2A behind 8-1 Lindsay.

Friday’s game against Muenster was Alvord’s final game before playoffs.

If Alvord remains in second behind Lindsay, their likely first-round opponent will by Perrin-Whitt, the third seed from 11-2A.

BRIDGEPORT 1, CASTLEBERRY 0

Kensley Turner’s first-inning homer was all the run support the Sissies could give Hailey Hollingsworth Tuesday against Castleberry.

Hollingsworth threw a seven-inning three-hit shutout to keep Bridgeport in the lead.

The Sissies finish district play with a 5-3 record and a second-place finish in 8-4A.

Bridgeport will face Venus in the opening round of the playoffs.

Venus is the third seed from 7-4A.

SPRINGTOWN 12, DECATUR 11

The Lady Eagles were one win away from a perfect district record, but it wasn’t meant to be.

Down two, Springtown rattled off three runs in the bottom of the seventh for a walk-off win.

The game was a slugfest, with both teams throwing haymakers every inning trying to force the opponent to submit.

Decatur opened with two runs in the first and Springtown quickly responded with four of their own in the same inning.

The Lady Eagles added four in the third inning, and another two in the top of the fourth for a four-run lead.

Springtown got two runs back in the bottom of the fourth, and closed the gap with another run in the bottom of the fifth.

Both teams scored two runs in the sixth and Decatur’s one run in the top of the seventh had them leading 11-9.

Despite the loss, Decatur is still the champion of 8-4A with its 7-1 record. They will face 7-4A fourth seed Alvarado in the opening round of the playoffs.

NORTHWEST 4, DENTON RYAN 3

With the game tied, Northwest needed a run in the top of the seventh, and with the bases loaded, McKenzie Middlebrook provided just that with a single to center field that brought in Cailee Adams.

With a one-run lead, Emily Worley’s pitching, and defensive plays from Rhianna Speicher and Middlebrook helped get the Lady Texans in the win column for the 12th time this season.

Sydnee Hinkle was an offensive weapon for the Lady Texans, getting three hits in all three of her at-bats and driving in two runs.

Two of Hinkle’s hits were doubles and she also crossed home once herself.

Tarah Hilton drove in a run on her only hit, and Worley pitched all seven innings, giving up five hits and three runs.

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Softball: Sister Act – Two pair of siblings lead Decatur to 8-4A title

Softball: Sister Act – Two pair of siblings lead Decatur to 8-4A title

Familiarity and chemistry play an important role in sports.

In softball, the pitcher and catcher must be on the same page, and the same goes for the shortstop and second baseman.

FAMILY BONDS – Sisters Kelsie and Brittany Roberts and Taylor and Caitlin Butler have helped the Decatur Lady Eagles to a 7-0 record and the District 8-4A title. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Luckily for the Lady Eagles, that chemistry wasn’t too hard to develop with sisters Caitlin and Taylor Butler at pitcher and catcher, and Brittany and Kelsie Roberts in the middle infield. The four represent every classification from freshman to senior, and they have had very different journeys on their way to becoming an unstoppable force in District 8-4A. The team wrapped up the league title with a win over Castleberry Monday.

Brittany and Kelsie Roberts have gone to Decatur schools most of their lives.

As one of three seniors on the team, Brittany has taken a leadership role after three years of being an underclassman on veteran teams.

“It was an adjustment being the oldest with a bunch of young girls,” the shortstop said. “Kelsie and I are the only returning starters from last year’s team. I have to draw the line between being supportive when someone makes a mistake, and letting the team know that we can’t constantly have errors.”

As a sophomore, Kelsie adds that she isn’t as vocal as her older sister but tries to lead by example.

The two have complete faith in one another on the field.

“It’s really special because we know when to be the cut,” Kelsie said. “When we roll the double play, we always know where the other person will be. We have a lot of trust in each other.”

For the Butlers, knowing where the other sister is has meant a lot on and off the field.

After moving to Decatur from Bowie, Caitlin and Taylor had to make the transition together.

“It was intimidating coming to a new school,” Taylor said. “Decatur is a much bigger school than Bowie, and we both had to adjust to that. We grew a lot closer through the moving process.”

They have also grown together through being battery mates.

“She knows what to say to me to pick me up,” Caitlin said. “We know how to communicate with each other.”

Caitlin, a junior, said she isn’t the fastest pitcher but has good movement to go with a repertoire of eight different pitches.

Taylor’s experience catching her older sister has allowed her to flourish as a freshman.

“I know where she’s going to throw the ball,” she said. “My adjustments depend on which pitch she throws.

“I would catch for her in the yard while she was practicing, so I have a good understanding of where the movement will go and where I need to be behind the plate.”

Taylor gets noticeably excited when talking about her older sister’s abilities.

Her favorite pitch is Caitlin’s “back door” curveball, which often scares hitters out of the box before bending back into the strike zone.

All four played a major role in Saturday’s come-from-behind win over Bridgeport.

Taylor hit a grounder in the bottom of the seventh that drove in the tying run.

Caitlin then reached on a bunt that got her to third base with the help of a Bridgeport error. Brittany drove her in for the walk-off win.

Kelsie got Decatur’s only hit in the game. Caitlin allowed just three hits in the pitcher’s circle.

As a senior, the late-inning effort was something that Brittany has become accustomed to.

“We have more heart than some of the teams I’ve been on,” she said. “We strive for things this year. In the past ,we’ve gone out and just played. Now, we go out to win.”

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Softball: Lady Eagles storm to dramatic win

In the top of the first inning Friday, Bridgeport’s Hailey Hollingsworth tagged up on a fly ball, scoring the Sissies’ lone run of the game.

Storms came in early in the second inning, and the game had to be postponed until Saturday.

Something to Celebrate

SOMETHING TO CELEBRATE – The Decatur Lady Eagles mob each other after the team’s two-run rally in the bottom of the seventh to beat Bridgeport 2-1 and stay unbeaten in District 8-4A. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

When play resumed, Hollingsworth and Decatur’s Caitlin Butler put on a pitching duel that featured three hits for the remainder of the game.

The Lady Eagles brought an end to the duel with a closing offensive storm and two-run rally in the bottom of the seventh of a 2-1 victory to remain unbeaten in District 8-4A.

All signs pointed to a Bridgeport victory and a split of the Wise County rivalry, with the Sissies holding the 1-0 lead going into the final half inning.

But two pitches into the bottom of the seventh, Decatur’s Brae Hanes hit a ground ball back to Hollingsworth.

The pitcher fielded the ball but made an errant throw to first that put Hanes on second.

Brianna Crooks’ sacrifice put Hanes on third with one out. Taylor Butler’s grounder to short scored Hanes to tie the game.

Caitlin Butler then bunted her way aboard and went to third after another error by Bridgeport.

Finally, Brittany Roberts’ bunt to third brought Butler in to score in walk-off fashion.

“It’s awesome. We beat Bridgeport, and it was my last home game ever, so it was really special,” Hanes said. “I knew I had to score.

“We talked about how we’re all proud of each other. Even though we had some problems, we stuck together and got through it as a team.”

Caitlin Butler finished the game allowing three hits and one run with eight strikeouts.

“I just had to keep pitching strikes,” she said. “I knew my team would find a way to get some runs on the board.”

For Hollingsworth, the game was a triumph in some areas – and brutal in others.

She allowed only one hit and two runs, while getting one of Bridgeport’s three hits and scoring their only run.

Unfortunately for Hollingsworth, she also committed three errors – two of those played a major role in the Decatur comeback.

Though noticeably disappointed, Hollingsworth remained hopeful in her team’s resolve.

“I really think we can bounce back,” she said. “We have a lot of hope, and we think we can make it. I’m proud of our team because we came a long way and fought hard. We just couldn’t pull it out in the end.”

The loss puts the Sissies (4-3) at third in district with the head-to-head tiebreaker over 2-4 Springtown.

DECATUR 2, BRIDGEPORT 1

Bridgeport (4-3) … … 100 … 000 … 0 … 1 … 3 … 5
Decatur (7-0) … … 000 … 000 … 2 … 2 … 1 … 1

WP: Caitlin Butler, LP Hailey Hollingsworth

RBI: Bridgeport, Kensley Turner; Decatur, Brittany Roberts, Taylor Butler

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Softball: Collinsville stops Alvord streak

Despite home runs from Reagan Guthrie and Mikena Mader, and RBIs from Ashton Peterson and Kaely Beaver, Alvord fell to Collinsville 14-4 Friday.

Mader wasn’t as sharp as she had been during Alvord’s six-game win streak, giving up 16 hits and 10 earned runs.

The Alvord bats weren’t great either, totaling four hits in 22 at-bats.

Alvord’s second district loss gives them a 6-2 district record and drops them to second place, behind 7-1 Lindsay in 12-2A.

TIMBER CREEK 7, NORTHWEST 6

Northwest couldn’t find an answer for Timber Creek’s four late runs in the seventh inning Friday night.

After Timber Creek scored two in the second inning, Northwest responded with four to take the lead and added two in the fifth to go up 6-2.

A Timber Creek run in the sixth, and their spree of four in the seventh, stole a game from the Lady Texans who led for three innings.

PARADISE 6, BOWIE 0

The Lady Panthers beat Bowie Friday afternoon aided by a two-hit pitching performance from Reagan Taylor.

Taylor also drove in one of Paradise’s three runs, and Brooklynn Davis went 2-for-4 with a run.

Randa Taylor and Jett Preather both drove in a run, and the Lady Panthers were also helped by three Bowie errors, and remain atop District 9-3A

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Softball: Mader mows ’em down – Alvord pitcher keeps composure

The entire team has contributed to the Alvord Lady Bulldogs’ six-game winning streak.

But perhaps none more than pitcher Mikena Mader.

Making Em Miss

MAKING ‘EM MISS – Alvord pitcher Mikena Mader has led her team from the mound. The pitcher has started all six games in Alvord’s winning streak. She has also been an offensive leader for her team with four home runs and a .528 batting average. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

Mader has taken to the pitcher’s circle every game in the win-streak and has excelled at the plate as well.

Mader has pitched in 11 of Alvord’s 14 games and has a 2.15 ERA.

She also driven in 17 runs with a .528 batting average and a .595 on-base percentage.

TRUSTING HER TEAM – Mikena Mader says that her team’s ability to score runs makes her job in the pitcher’s circle easy. The Lady Bulldogs have a high-powered offense that has averaged 11 runs in district play. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

The junior pitcher has also hit a team-high four home runs.

Mader’s journey into the sport began when she was 8 years old, joining a youth softball team out of Bridgeport.

She looked up to her cousin Malori Moss, whose career at Chico High School included her winning 2012 All-State honors and 2012 Wise County MVP.

“I looked up to her a lot,” Mader said. “We were at our grandparents’ house, and we were pitching and playing around. I was trying to just copy what she was doing, and my uncle, Craig Moss, told my mom that I needed to be in pitching lessons. He thought I had some potential.”

She believes what her uncle saw that day was her desire to perfect whatever she puts her mind to.

Mader began working with pitching coach Marvin Reed and joined a summer league team, Texas Glory, playing every summer until she was 14.

In that span, Mader’s family moved from Henrietta to Alvord, and softball was how the shy third-grader developed friendships with her new classmates.

“The hardest part was probably getting to know people because I was really shy,” she said. “My best friend when I moved here was Ashton Peterson, our first baseman. Brittany Gayler, our short stop, we’ve played select ball together for several years.”

Mader says one of the biggest reasons for her success this year has been her competitive drive.

She says when she finds herself in trouble with runners on base, she can elevate her game and get out of jams.

“My best quality is probably my composure,” she said. “I don’t let a lot of things affect me. If someone hits a home run off of me, I can bounce back and not let that bother me.”

Mader went on to say that her fear of letting her teammates down is a big part of her demeanor in games.

She feels that staying calm is her responsibility as a leader on the team.

The star junior also feels like her teammates’ ability to score runs at an extreme rate takes pressure off of her pitching and the defense.

“My teammates have my back because they’ll come up and knock the cover off the ball,” she said. “That makes my job easy.”

If Alvord continues their success, they will make the playoffs for the first time in several seasons.

Mader says that will be good for the town and she can’t wait to compete in the intense environment.

“I would imagine that it’s like select ball,” she said. “You just have to keep your focus. There’s no room for error so you have to bring your best game.”

Other than softball, she takes pride in her grades and also enjoys being a part of the basketball team.

Her GPA is above a 4.0 and she makes straight A’s in the classroom.

Though her focus is currently on making the most of her 2015 softball season, she looks forward to next season as well.

“We have no seniors, so we have our full team coming back next year,” she said. “My sister, Maley, will be a freshman next year so that will be fun to be in school with her.”

Mader’s coach, Tony Brazeal, isn’t worried about where his pitcher’s mind is.

He says that Mader’s focus is her greatest asset.

“I can tell you three things about her that are probably all I need to say,” Brazeal said. “Great kid. Great work ethic. Great leader.

“She stays focused all of the time. I’ve never seen her out of a game mentally. That’s the most important thing, especially in this time of the season. I’ve never seen her lose focus once.”

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Softball: Sissies finish Frogs

The Bridgeport Sissies scored eight runs with two outs, including a three-run homer by Hayley Davidson during a 13-run first inning.

After three more runs in the third inning, the game was over in a 15-0 run rule.

Hailey Hollingsworth struck out five of the nine batters she faced, allowing no hits or runs.

Lake Worth’s only baserunner reached on a Hollingsworth error.

Kensley Turner got a hit in each of her three at-bats, driving in two runs with two doubles and a triple.

Like Turner, Shiloh Weirich hit the ball every time she stepped up to the plate, going 2-for-2 with a double and a triple.

Melissa Monjaraz drove in three runs, two on sacrifices and one on a double.

And Hollingsworth brought in two with her triple in the first.

Davidson finished with a team-leading five RBIs.

The win gives the Sissies a 4-2 record in district play, behind only Castleberry and Decatur in 8-4A.

BYRON NELSON 11, NORTHWEST 6

Northwest took a big hit Wednesday with a loss to Byron Nelson that could have allowed the Lady Texans to move back into position for a playoff spot.

Down 7-6 heading into the sixth, the Lady Texans gave up four runs in the bottom of the sixth and followed that with a scoreless seventh to end the game.

Northwest’s Brie Wrobel drove in three runs with a hit in three of her four at-bats.

Sydnee Hinkle drove in two runs on two hits, and Tuesday DerMargosian’s lone hit drove in a run as well.

Catherine Totty and Emily Worley each pitched three innings for the Lady Texans.

Totty gave up five hits and five runs in her outing, and Worley allowed six hits and six runs in her time in the pitcher’s circle.

The Lady Texans’ record is now 4-5 while Byron Nelson sits in fourth place at 6-4

PARADISE 5, CITY VIEW 4

It wasn’t a blowout, but Paradise got the win Friday over City View.

Paradise pitcher Reagan Taylor turned up the heat in the top of the fifth following her sister, Randa’s, RBI single in the bottom of the fourth to put the Lady Panthers up by a run.

Reagan proceeded to strike out the side in the fifth, allowing only two baserunners in the final three innings of play.

The Lady Panthers remain tied atop 9-3A with Holliday who also have just one district loss to their record.

At 8-3, Boyd sits at third in 9-3A.

BOYD 11, NOCONA 1

Boyd’s four runs in the fourth inning were followed by five in the fifth to give the Lady Yellowjackets a relatively easy 11-1 win over Nocona Tuesday.

The game ended after five innings and Boyd’s Chandler Hammond finished the game allowing only two hits, though one was a home run.

Savannah Foster and Britney Howard each got two hits in their three at-bats to lead Boyd.

Howard drove in three runs and Foster brought in two.

Chelsea Arlington and Hammond each drove in two runs as well.

The win gives the Lady Yellowjackets an 8-3 record, sitting third in 9-3A behind Holliday and Paradise.

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Softball: Alvord rolls to six straight

Despite winning their sixth straight 12-2A game 6-1 against Chico Tuesday, Alvord coach Tony Brazeal felt certain his team didn’t play to their potential.

“We’re better than we played tonight,” Brazeal said. “We know that. I think part of that is that we’re coming off of a huge win at Lindsay. We played a great game on their field, and then I was expecting somewhat of a mental letdown. That’s natural, but we’re so much better than we played tonight and hopefully that comes out against Collinsville.”

Chico coach Heath Tullous was considerably less disappointed by his team’s play despite losing.

“They run-ruled Lindsay who was undefeated,” Tullous said. “I don’t think they expected us to make as many routine plays as we did. If we cut out a couple errors, it would be a two or three-run game. When we grow the maturity of this team and get some innings under our belt, we should grow into a strong team.”

The contrast between the two coaches likely has a lot to do with where there teams are in the standings, and in age.

With a junior-packed team sitting atop 12-2A, Alvord expects to play well as much as possible and compete in the postseason for a long playoff run.

Chico on the other hand is trying to build a foundation.

With Tullous in his first year of taking over the program, he is excited about the prospect of growing his team into something strong and sustainable.

“I tell them, don’t watch scoreboards,” he said. “We have freshmen like Laynee North and sophomores like Kiley Marburger. You have young players who are stepping up at big positions. We got run-ruled several times in the first half of district. We’re trying to move on from that in the second half. You can say, forget the season or you can get better. We want to get better.”

Led by Kaely Beaver’s solo home run in the top of the second, Alvord opened with three runs in the first two innings.

North blasted a homer of her own in the bottom of the second to put Chico on the board.

Chico kept the high-powered offense of Alvord at bay for three scoreless innings, but two Alvord runs in the sixth and another in the seventh put Chico in a hole they couldn’t climb out of.

Mikena Mader pitched a complete game for Alvord, striking out 13 batters and giving up only two hits.

Chico pitcher, Brooke Vidal struck out six Alvord batters, allowing 16 hits and six earned runs.

Beaver hit Alvord’s only home run in the win, she added two doubles as well.

ALVORD 6, CHICO 1

Alvord … 120 … 002 … 1 … 6 … 16 … 0
Chico … 010 … 000 … 0 … 1 … 2 … 1

WP: Mikena Mader LP: Brooke Vidal

2B: Alvord, Brittany Gayler, Mikena Mader, Kaely Beaver 2, Emily Burdine 2, Hamilton, Schedcik

HR: Alvord, Kaely Beaver; Chico, Laynee North

RBI: Alvord, Gayler, Mader 2, Beaver, Burdine, Schedcik; Chico, Laynee North

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Softball: Lady Bulldogs take over share of league lead

Alvord earned some revenge and a spot atop the District 12-2A standings when they beat Lindsay 13-3 Friday.

Both teams are 5-1 in the league, splitting meetings.

Alvord hitters continued to terrorize opposing pitching.

Reagan Guthrie went 4-for-4 with four RBIs. Brittany Gayler went 3-for-4 with four RBIs. Kaely Beaver finished with three hits and knocked in a run. Mikena Mader finished 2-for-4 with three RBIs.

Mader pitched all six innings, striking out nine and allowing four hits.

Alvord has won five straight.

The Lady Bulldog’s final three district games will be against Chico, Collinsville and Muenster – all on the road.

BRIDGEPORT 11, SPRINGTOWN 8

Despite having three fewer hits than their opponents, the Bridgeport Sissies scored three more runs than Springtown Friday.

Bridgeport’s Kensley Turner led the way at the plate, going 2-for-4 with three RBIs and a walk.

Hailey Hollingsworth pitched seven innings, giving up 10 hits and eight runs while striking out 10.

Springtown held a 5-4 lead into the fifth, when Diana Garcia walked and later scored on a Turner single to center field.

A Hayley Davidson walk was followed by Shiloh Weirich’s sacrifice to move both Davidson and Turner into scoring position.

A sacrifice from Taby River brought Turner in, giving Bridgeport a one-run lead.

The Ryhan Read line drive that followed scored Davidson for the Sissies’ final run of the fifth.

Bridgeport added another four runs in the sixth.

The win was Bridgeport’s first District 8-4A game since April 2, and gives them a 3-2 league record.

Decatur leads the district with a 5-0 record, and Castleberry sits in second at 4-2.

Springtown has a 2-4 record and Lake Worth is winless at 0-6.

NORTHWEST 11, KELLER CENTRAL 1
BIRDVILLE 6, NORTHWEST 0

An eight-run second inning gave the Lady Texans plenty of breathing room as they took the District 5-6A game over Keller Central.

The combination of Emily Worley and Kelsey Rhine were brilliant in the pitcher’s circle.

Worley llowed two hits and a run in three innings of work.

Rhine pitched a final two hitless innings.

Worley’s pitching performance was not outdone by her game at the plate.

She went 2-for-3 with four RBIs.

Tarah Hilton added two triples in the game, driving in two runs and scoring twice.

The next day, Northwest suffered a 6-0 loss to Birdville.

Despite getting nine hits, the Lady Texans were unable to bring any runners home. Birdville had 10 hits.

Brie Wrobel went 3-for-3 in the loss, getting a triple for Northwest’s only extra-base hit. Worley allowed only one run in her three innings in the pitcher’s circle.

Making the nine-hit shutout even more surprising is the fact that Northwest struck out only once.

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Softball: Alvord hammers Muenster

The usual suspects were in dominant form in Alvord’s 9-2 win over Muenster Tuesday.

Reagan Guthrie went 4-for-4 with an RBI and crossed the plate three times.

Ashton Peterson went 2-for-4 and drove in two runs. Brittany Gayler finished 3-for-4.

Mikena Mader pitched seven innings, striking out 14 batters and walking one.

ALVORD 9, MUENSTER 2

Muenster … 100 … 100 … 0 … 2 … 6 … 1
Alvord … 021 … 024 … X … 9 … 14 … 0

WP: Mikena Mader

2B: Muenster, Rains; Alvord, Brittany Gayler, Ashton Peterson, Kaely Beaver

RBI: Muenster, Flaming, Rains; Alvord, Reagan Guthrie, Ashton Peterson 2, Katelyn Schedcik, Darby Moak, Maddie Espinoza, Kaely Beaver

DENTON GUYER 11, NORTHWEST 1

The Lady Texans were held to four hits and one run in Tuesday’s contest with Denton Guyer.

A seven-run second inning led Guyer to an 11-1 win in the 5-6A matchup.

Guyer got 10 of their 13 hits in the second and fifth innings – the only two innings in which they scored.

Rhianna Speicher drove in Northwest’s only run with a hard ground ball single to center field that scored Tuesday DerMargosian in the first frame.

GUYER 11, NORTHWEST 1

Northwest (3-5) … 100 … 00 … 1 … 4 … 1
Guyer (7-2) … 070 … 04 … 11 … 13 … 0

WP: S Starkey; LP: Catherine Totty

2B: Guyer, H Hodapp, M Holder

HR: Guyer, L Lindgren

RBI: Guyer, T Soloman 3, H Hodapp 3, S Starkey, M Green 2, L Lindgren 2, M Holder 2; Northwest, Rhianna Speicher

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Softball: Taylor, Paradise take down Boyd

Reagan Taylor’s big blast in the top of the third gave Paradise the lead. Her work in the pitching circle made sure the Lady Panthers kept it.

Taylor struck out eight and limited Boyd’s potent lineup to just three hits in a 3-1 victory over the Lady Yellowjackets.

Firing Away

FIRING AWAY – Paradise pitcher Reagan Taylor struck out eight leading the Lady Panthers to a 3-1 win over Boyd. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Taylor didn’t allow a runner past second after the second inning. She held the heart of Boyd’s order – the three, four, five hitters – without a hit.

“I just try to focus as hard as I can and don’t worry about the crowd or anything else going on,” Taylor said. “I just focus on the hitter and try to get on top of them.

“This feels really good. I play with a bunch of their girls in the summer on a select team. They are our rivals, but it’s a good competition that we have. It’s fun to play them.”

The win gives the Lady Panthers (12-6) a season sweep of Boyd and keeps them atop District 9-3A with Holliday at 7-1.

“We needed that since [Boyd] didn’t lose to anyone else in the first half of district,” said Paradise coach Karin Essig. “It’s always a tough battle facing them. We needed to dig deep for that one.”

Celebration at Home

CELEBRATION AT HOME – Paradise players mob Reagan Taylor after her two-run homer Friday during the Lady Panthers’ 3-1 win over Boyd. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Boyd (14-5) fell to 6-2 in the league as its six-game winning streak was snapped.

“To win district, we’ll have to hope they lose a couple,” said Boyd coach Brandon Hopkins. “They win the tiebreakers now.”

Payton Salmon, who batted leadoff in place of Savannah Foster, had two of the three hits off Taylor. Boyd’s lone run in the second, which tied the game at 1, came after Amber Bowen was hit by a pitch, stole third and raced home on the game’s lone error.

“[Taylor] was on,” Hopkins said. “We didn’t put the ball in play real hard. There were only a couple hard-hit balls.”

Paradise didn’t let it stay even long. Allie Rutledge worked a leadoff walk off Chelsea Arlington in the top of the third. Taylor stepped in and got ahead in the count 2-0 before blasting the ball off the top of the Boyd hitting cage beyond the left-field fence.

“It was an outside pitch and I usually don’t hit outside pitches that well,” Taylor said.

“Once I hit, I was saying, ‘Please go out.’ Then I heard it hit the top of their hitting cage.”

Taylor finished 2-for-4 at the plate with the two-run homer on top of her strong performance in the circle.

“She came up and faced them and knew what she needed to do,” Essig said. “She’s a confident kid. She’s confident at the plate and works hard.”

Bailey Higgins went 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles. Brooklyn Davis also had three hits and drove in Higgins for the Lady Panthers’ first run in the top of the second.

PARADISE 3, BOYD 1

Paradise … 012 … 000 … 0 … 3 … 13 … 1
Boyd … 010 … 000 … 0 … 1 … 3 … 0

WP: Reagan Taylor. LP: Chelsea Arlington

HR – Paradise, Taylor. 2B – Paradise, Bailey Higgins 2. RBI – Taylor 2, Brooklyn Davis.

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Softball: Alvord trounces Valley View, 13-2

Led by Reagan Guthrie, who went 4-5 with four RBIs, Alvord toppled Valley View 13-2 in a landslide Friday night.

Neither team had scored until the top of the third inning when Emily Burdine got to second base on an error that allowed Darby Moak to score.

It would be the first of six runs in the inning for Alvord, driven in by Burdine, Guthrie, Ashton Peterson and Katelyn Schedcik.

The Lady Bulldogs got another run in the first and closed the game out with three runs in each of the final two innings.

Mikena Mader pitched the entire game and struck out eight batters, walking just one in the three-hit, 91-pitch performance.

She also went 4-5 from the plate and drove in two runs.

The win keeps Alvord second in their district with a record of 3-1, behind Lindsay with a perfect 4-0.

Alvord’s only district loss came against Lindsay in a 10-9 offensive battle, and the Lady Bulldogs have won their three games since by an average margin of 12.3 runs.

In the loss to Lindsay, Alvord committed four errors while Lindsay stayed perfect defensively.

Alvord coach Tony Brazeal said that was the difference in the game.

Brittany Gayler and Mader stand out in an Alvord lineup full of sluggers.

“We’re hitting well,” Brazeal said. “Every team goes through ups and downs, but right now we’ve got some girls swinging the bat really well. We made some errors against Lindsay and that was really the difference in the game.”

Gayler’s .719 batting average and on-base percentage of .750 would seem only possible with the help of some luck and a small sample size.

What makes those stats nearly unfathomable is the fact that she leads her team in plate appearances with 36, playing in all 11 Alvord games.

Like Gayler, Mader’s .607 average and .676 on-base percentage have been collected over a strong 34 plate appearances.

Mader’s three home runs and 14 RBIs lead the team and her ERA of 2.15 shows her ability to star in the pitcher’s circle as well.

This season she has pitched eight of Alvord’s 11 games and struck out 49 batters, while walking just 13 all year.

Mader’s assortment of pitches makes her a force and Brazeal says that she will probably pitch every game for the rest of the season.

“She has several different pitches,” he said. “When we start the game we search until we find one that the other team can’t hit and we stick to that.”

Guthrie and Peterson have also driven in double digit runs this season and both have exceptional stats across the board.

Guthrie has played the entire season without an error, completing all 70 of her defensive chances.

The Lady Bulldogs will be an unstoppable force if they can follow in Guthrie’s defensive footsteps and continue hitting the ball well.

Alvord … 006 … 103 … 3 … 13 … 20 … 2
Valley View … 000 … 200 … 0 … 3 … 3 … 1

WP: Mikena Mader LP: Bierschenk

2B: Alvord, Brittany Gayler 2, Reagan Guthrie 2, Emily Burdine, Kaely Beaver

3B: Alvord, Reagan Guthrie, Katelyn Schedcik

RBI: Alvord, Reagan Guthrie 4, Mikena Mader 2, Ashton Peterson 2, Emily Burdine 2, Katelyn Schedcik

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