BONHAM — It was a history-making night for Ector on Friday night and the Lady Eagles took out a familiar foe in the process.
The Lady Eagles defeated Dodd City, 2-0, in the Class 1A Region II semifinals to move on to the program’s first ever regional final appearance. Rctor (8-11) will face Cross Plains next week at a date, time and place to be determined for a berth at the state tournament.
“When you play a great Dodd City team that was in the state tournament a year ago, it’s tough,” Ector head coach Jayson Adams said. “You take some lumps with the competition but it makes you better come playoff time. It’s a lot of fun right now.”
Friday’s game featured two strong pitching performances from Dodd City’s Raigan Nichols and Destiny Whitburn of Ector and both got off to good starts.
Nichols worked herself out of a jam in the top of the first after two Lady Eagles made their ways to second and third. Whitburn responded by striking out the side in the bottom of the inning.
The game stayed scoreless through the next three innings as both pitchers continued to make life difficult on the batters. Ector recorded three hits and had chances to score but were unable to come across.
The Lady Eagles were able to break through in the top of the fifth inning. After Whitburn was hit by a pitch and an infield single from Sunnie Bingham, Bailey Collins came through with an single into left field to drive in the game’s first run. Collins finished 2-for-4.
Meanwhile, Whitburn continued to deal and keep the Lady Hornets at bay. She added two more strikeouts in the fifth to on the way to eight strikeouts.
“It felt great tonight,” Whitburn said. ‘’After those three strikeouts to start, I felt it was going to be a great night. I had been working all week for that.”
“She was extremely strong,” Adams said. “She was able to hit her spots well down the stretch and close the game for us tonight.”
The Lady Eagles added another run in the sixth. After loading the bases, a single from Mary Salazar turned into an error from Dodd City that led to Meredith Shockley scoring the second run. Shockley had led off the inning reaching on another Lady Hornet error.
Despite the adversity, Nichols was able to force a fielder’s choice and a strikeout to keep Dodd City in it. She finished giving up two runs on seven hits and struck out two.
“Raigan pitched the most complete game she had all season,” Dodd City head coach Dalton Herndon said. “We just made a couple of errors at the wrong time with runners on. We were in it until the very end and these girls have a lot of fortitude.”
Dodd City made a final push in the seventh that started with their first hit of the game from Madelyn Underwood. However, the rally was stymied after Underwood was caught stealing by Ector catcher Hannah Easley. It was the second time that Easley had thrown out a runner out trying to steal.
“Hannah’s been working her tail off at that all year,” Adams said. “They came at a perfect time tonight.”
Whitburn then forced two ground balls to close the game out. Now, Ector takes their next step in the postseason after getting even against a defending state semifinalist.
“We were in the same situation and we fell short against the same team,” Adams said. “To have this result tonight shows how much we’ve grown.”