CORINTH — Celina suffered as heart-wrenching a loss as a softball team could endure Friday night — a go-ahead home run in the top of the seventh, followed by allowing two runs in the bottom half to deny a victory.
In a tremendous pitching duel between Celina’s Randi Dobbins and Krum’s Tristan Bridges, it seemed Krum had blinked first as Kalea Kellum sent the first pitch of the seventh inning over the fence in left to give Celina a 2-1 lead over its former district rival.
But two walks, two wild pitches and an error on a sacrifice bunt gave Krum the opening it needed to pull out a 3-2 walk-off win in a one-game Class 4A Region II area-round playoff at Lake Dallas High School.
“We stayed right there with them,” Celina head coach Carla Bartlett said. “Krum’s a great ball team and they work hard. We had a chance to win it and close the door, and some things just didn’t go our way. That happens in the playoffs in a close ballgame.”
Dobbins took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and allowed only one hit, a double by Krum’s Avery Williams. Dobbins struck out 13 and walked four, but the last two walks were the big ones.
Dobbins led off the bottom of the seventh by walking Krum’s Morgan Sebastian and Bridges, putting the winning runs aboard. Dobbins bounced back with a strikeout, but back-to-back wild pitches resulted in the game-tying run with the winning run at third.
Dobbins easily fielded a bunt and looked the runner back, but her throw to first sailed high, allowing courtesy runner Lindsay Hill to score the winner.
“Randi pitched great,” Bartlett said. “She wanted this game. Those six innings are probably the best I’ve seen her pitch all year. She did a great job.”
Krum (31-2) advances to face Bonham in the Region II quarterfinals next weekend.
Bridges was just as tough to hit in the circle for Krum. The left-hander only allowed two hits, striking out four, walking one and hitting two batters.
The second hit came on the first pitch of the seventh inning as Kellum lined the ball over the fence in center, giving Celina (15-12) a 2-1 lead.
“I told my manager, it would be nice for Kalea to come through for a home run, and she said she could do it, and I said I know she can,” Bartlett said. “The next pitch, she hits it out. I was proud of her.”
Krum scratched out a run in the bottom of the first as Williams walked, stole second and hustled all the way home on a strikeout in the dirst and a throw to first.
Celina scored a hustle run in similar fashion to level the score in the top of the fifth. Emmy Engelbert, one of only two Celina seniors, was hit by a pitch, advanced on a Hannah Ubanoski sacrifice, and caught Krum napping by scoring from second on a Shayla Dell’Anno fly ball to short right.
“I knew we could hang with them if we showed up and we played,” Bartlett said. “That was my expectation and they did just that. They played great. They could’ve come out and let down because of Krum’s record and how they performed. But they didn’t.”
This spring was a retrenching one for the Lady Bobcats, but one that Bartlett hopes laid the groundwork for the future.
“I have a young team,” Bartlett said. “I’m only graduating two this year. So we just have to build on this momentum carrying us forward. The young ones need to take this feeling and use it as motivation moving forward into next season and preparing in the offseason. It’s kind of nice having them get this playoff experience, and using that to catapult them forward.”