As the wind and rain rolled through Old Settlers Park on Friday afternoon, there was some question as to whether Sherman and Denton Braswell would even play.
But after a delay of more than two hours and extra innings, the wait was well worth it for Sherman. The Lady Bearcats rallied for a 3-2 win over the Lady Bengals in eight innings after Ashley Boatright scored from second base on a Jessica Bridges ground ball in the infield.
Denton Braswell infielder AJ Frausto mishandled the ball trying to turn a double play which allowed Boatright to score.
“I did not expect that to happen,” Bridges said. “I was just thinking about finding a way to get on base and helping my team. It was very exciting.”
“Winning like this skyrockets our confidence,” Boatright said. “Especially after winning like this, we want to do whatever it takes to win and feel this feeling again.”
It’s the third win in a row for Sherman (10-13, 5-4) and more significantly, the win puts the Lady Cats in a second-place tie with Wichita Falls. But the jammed standings have Sherman just a game in front of the three-way tie for fourth place between Braswell (5-9, 3-5), Rider and Denton.
As Sherman hits the home stretch of the season, they believe that they’re starting to turn the corner at just the right time.
“We’ve grown a lot, especially trusting each other and communicating both on and off the field,” Bridges said. “I know my team has my back and I know that I can trust them on defense and in the circle.”
“The girls have worked so hard and have really improved and grown,” Samuels said. “They’ve moved on past the fundamentals and are starting to work in the extra things as well. We just have to keep playing like we’re playing right now.”
Sherman (10-13, 5-4) was able to find itself back in this position thanks in part to the effort of Bridges in the circle. The junior gave up two runs on just four hits and struck out nine in eight innings of work.
“Jessica’s busting it every day and we’re on her about finding her spots,” Sherman head coach Brenda Samuels said, “Then she gets up the plate to make something happen and she does. That’s the expectation for her and I’m so glad that she’s staying strong through that.”
The game started out just as the last match-up between the two did — a duel between Bridges and Braswell starter Britain Hartzell. After going scoreless through the first three innings, the Lady Bengals struck first.
After a leadoff double in the fourth, Frausto scored on a two-out RBI single from CeCi Werley to put Braswell ahead.
The Lady Bearcats were unable to answer despite a two-out single from Bridges in the bottom half of the inning.
Braswell took advantage of an error for their second run. Frausto — after another leadoff double — scored off a Julie Lowe fly ball that was dropped by Jessica Shrum. The Lady Bengals got another run after an error by Jill Dixon but Bridges was able to get out of the jam and keep her team within reach.
Dixon bounced back in a big way in the sixth inning, driving in two runs on a line shot into right-center field to tie the game at two. The senior finished 2-for-3 with those two runs batted and suddenly the winds had shifted back in their favor.
“They never gave up or attempted to give up,” Samuels said. “We just tried to get them to stay as focused as they could be and they’re doing that.”
That focus was apparent on Boatright’s at-bat in the eighth inning. After swinging at a high first pitch from Hartzell, she adjusted and dropped a bunt single that got the rally started.
“It was just an instinct play,” she said. “I had to find a way to get on base so my teammates can bring me home.”
“She did it on her own,” Samuels said. “I just told her not to swing at the high pitches. This is her first year playing varsity softball and she’s starting to figuring it out. She saw her opportunity and took it.”