PROSPER — If there were reasons for the Denison Lady Yellow Jackets to overlook their second-round opponent — namely a 22-0 victory against Dallas Sunset from earlier in the season — then there were a couple of them to remain on the track which got them here.
The program was on the verge of setting the single-season record for wins as well as continuing its best season in more than a decade. The Lady Jackets weren’t interested in letting that opportunity slip away.
“We knew we couldn’t underestimate them. We couldn’t get a big head about it,” senior first baseman Shayla Love said. “We always take it one inning at a time.”
A second straight run-rule clinched the first goal but the most important came with the second as Denison defeated Dallas Sunset, 11-1, in five innings to sweep a Class 5A Region II area round series on Saturday afternoon.
Denison (21-11) will face Frisco Reedy in a region quarterfinal series at Prosper. Game 1 is at 7:30 p.m. on Friday with Games 2 and 3 at noon on Saturday. It is the third time the Lady Jackets have reached the third round, matching 2006 and 1997, and they are playing for their first region semifinal appearance.
“It had been mentioned a few times,” said Love, who was 2-for-3 with a double, drove in a run and scored twice. “We’re winning ballgames and that’s fun. We’ve built a great culture together. We’re there for each other.”
The victory in the series opener broke the school record of 19 wins, also set in 2006.
“The girls are special. My assistant coaches are special. It makes all of this a special thing,” Denison head coach Jeremy Green said. “We’ve put in a lot of work to be here and we’ll put a lot of work in to move on. We’re going to focus on Reedy now.”
Denison enacted the run-rule in the bottom of the fifth. Madison Carter led off with a triple down the right-field line and scored on Jewel Hiberd’s sacrifice fly to right.
The Lady Jackets finished with seven hits and were aided by 11 walks, three errors and a hit by pitch.
“I don’t think we lack in any kind of confidence,” Green said. “The white is ours. If it’s on the white, we’ll handle it. If not, we’re okay with what happens.”
Hailey Jaresh relieved Ashlinn Hamilton in the fourth and stranded runners at the corners as part of two scoreless innings, including three strikeouts.
A six-run third inning broke the game open with the big blow being Elizabeth Linwood’s three-run blast to straightaway center. It was set up by one-out walks from Haley Earnhart and Hamilton.
The Lady Jackets loaded the bases without a hit — Love was hit by a pitch and Carter and Hiberd walked — before Jaci Garvin poked a two-run single to right for a 10-1 lead. A line drive double play ended the outburst.
Hannah Grinspan opened the inning with a single through the left side and took second due to an error on the play. She moved up on a wild pitch and scored on another.
The Lady Jackets took a 4-1 advantage in the second. Earnhart opened the inning with a walk and a pair of wild pitches moved her to third. Hamilton then reached on an error to bring in a run.
Love had a one-out single and Carter walked to load the bases for Hiberd, who blooped an RBI single to right. A line-drive double play ended that frame.
Dallas Sunset got on the board in the top of the second when Alexandria Ibarra’s RBI single to right plated Yamilett Martinez, who reached on an infield hit and moved up on a wild pitch. The Lady Bison had a pair of runners in scoring position with one out but Hamilton struck out a pair to keep the Lady Jackets in front.
Denison started the scoring with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first inning. Hamilton walked on four pitches, stole second and went to third on a wild pitch. Love had a one-out RBI double to right center and she scored on the back end of a double steal attempt when Carter was thrown at second.
An illegal pitch on what would have been an inning-ending groundout kept Garvin’s at-bat alive and she eventually walked, as did Grinspan to load the bases but a flyout to left kept the Lady Jackets’ lead at two.
Denison opened the series with a 17-1 victory in five innings on Friday as Jaresh and Hamilton combined on a no-hitter. Jaresh went four innings, allowing an unearned run with four strikeouts and three walks before Hamilton’s pair of strikeouts in a scoreless fifth.
Carter was 3-for-4 with three RBI and scored three times, Hiberd was 2-for-4 with two RBI and scored twice, Earnhart was 2-for-3 with two RBI and scored, Linwood was 2-for-3, drove in a run and scored three times, Keanu Hall singled, walked, drove in two and scored twice, Garvin drove in two runs and Hamilton walked three times and scored three times.