WHITESBORO — Whether at the plate or behind it, Taren Dillion left an imprint on Whitesboro’s victory.

WHITESBORO — Whether at the plate or behind it, Taren Dillion left an imprint on Whitesboro’s victory.


The biggest of several plays was the final one of the game, when a 2-3-1 relay led to Katie Dean applying a tag following the return throw on a dropped third strike to help the Lady Bearcats open District 11-2A action with a 4-3 victory over Tom Bean on Wednesday night.


Dillion came up with the tie-breaking solo homer in the third inning — all three of her hits were for extra bases — that was the final run and made a pair of late tags to keep Tom Bean (9-3, 0-1) from forcing extra innings.


"That’s just the thing about Taren. She does it all," Whitesboro head coach Lindsey Lacy said. "That’s senior leadership and that’s what we need to have."


The defending district champions were forced to work around several precarious situations after taking a 4-3 lead in the third. Whitesboro (11-2, 1-0) saw the Lady Tomcats put the tying run just 60 feet away five times in the final four innings before hanging on for the victory.


"It wasn’t one play for us. It was a collection of plays," Tom Bean head coach Lance Cherry said. "It’s hard enough to get some runs against Katie Dean because she’s a great pitcher and when you don’t execute with runners in scoring position, it’s tough to beat a great team."


Caroline Henderson had a one-out double to right-center in the top of the seventh and then with two outs, Alex Hendry struck out but the ball got away from Dillion. The senior catcher tried to get the final out at first while Henderson was charing home from second base. Even thought Dean’s swipe tag was high, the umpire called Henderson out for the wild finish.


It was a fitting end for a match-up where Lacy was going up against her former high school coach. After a standout career at NCTC and then Southeastern Oklahoma State, she is in charge of a program for the first time.


"I know how he plays but I was hoping to get my girls to stick with our game plan," Lacy said.


And so when a pivotal play came up in the sixth inning combined both of their philosophies that led to a rundown between third and home, it was familiar for Cherry, because it was the same set-up he runs. Dillion pump-faked a throw with Shelly Peterson, who walked to start the frame, on third and Sarah Henderson trying to steal second with one out.


"She was an aggressive player and I knew her kids would be," Cherry said. "We made some bad base running mistakes and they capitalized."


The Lady Bearcats kept their lead in the fifth with another out at the plate. Annie Bailey singled to start the inning and then Caroline Henderson walked. A sacrifice moved them over but Dean went home on a bunt and got a strikeout, one of 10, to end that threat.


Tom Bean opened the game with a pair of runs but wasn’t able to fully take advantage since the first five Lady Tomcats reached base. Sarah Henderson beat out a grounder to short, Katie Jones reached on an error when she sacrificed and Henderson came around to score. Bailey followed with an RBI single to center for a 2-0 lead.


Caroline Henderson reached on an error and Shelby Motley had a bunt single but Dean struck out the next three to keep the deficit manageable.


"I was proud of my girls for not freaking out," Lacy said. "They could have let that one slip away after the first inning."


Whitesboro jumped in front in the bottom of the first. Bailey struck out four in the inning, including a dropped third strike that allowed Kacie Jones, the second batter, to reach. Dean singled and Dillion doubled into the left-field corner for a run. Moriah Mitcheson hit a one-hopper to third and Peterson went to first instead of trying for the tag play at home on Dean. The throw was wide and two runs scored.


Hendry’s safety squeeze with one out in the third scored Motley, who had reached on an error, and pulled the Lady Tomcats even.


Dillion led off the bottom of the inning with a home run to center for the winning margin. Bailey finished the game by retiring 12 of the final 13 she faced and just two Lady Bearcats reached after Dillion’s blast to give Tom Bean a chance to rally.


"For six innings against a team that can hit like they can, Annie did a great job," Cherry said. "If we played a little better defense behind her that should have been enough."