When the Sherman Lady Bearcats have been victorious so far this season, they have ridden their bats to some lopsided scores.
The closest thing they have to winning what would be considered a pitchers’ duel was a 5-2 victory over Mount Pleasant last month.
It has been rare for Sherman to face an opponent when offense is at a premium for either side — only two of the Lady Cats’ games have seen a total of four runs or less.
But midway through their victory against Sulphur Springs it was just a 1-0 margin and Sherman was able to hang on, 3-2, over the Lady Wildcats in non-district action at Old Settlers Park.
“This was really good for us, especially about to roll into district,” Sherman head coach Reeca Huntsman said. “We haven’t had too many close games like this where we’ve won.”
Kenna Ferguson scattered eight hits and a walk while striking out five and her spot in the order scored twice while Ashley Boatright’s two-run triple turned out to be the difference for Sherman (7-11), which is scheduled to play at Denton Ryan on Thursday, weather permitting, before opening 10-5A play at home against Princeton on Tuesday.
Addison DeSmet was 2-for-2 with a double and scored twice while Colbria Harrison singled and drove in a run for Sulphur Springs (7-8), which stranded three runs at third base in the first four innings and had another Lady Wildcat doubled off third to end the sixth.
“That’s a testament to our mental toughness and our defense,” Huntsman said.
After jumping ahead in the second and pushing its advantage to 3-0, Sherman held on as Sulphur Springs scored in each of the final two innings.
“The monkey’s on our back there to keep the lead,” Huntsman said. “I was glad to see that.”
Sulphur Springs was able to bring the tying run to the plate with two outs in the seventh. DeSmet led off the inning with a double just inside the left-field line and took third when the throw to the infield got away. She scored on Harrison’s groundout to third for the final margin before Alli Fite grounded out to second to end the game.
The Lady Wilcats pulled within 3-1 in the sixth when Kate Womack and Ayliah Lindley opened the inning with singles. After a forceout at third, Grace Magnuson singled to center to drive in a run and went to second on the throw home.
Sulphur Springs now had the tying run in scoring position but Addison Caddell lined out to second base and Caver doubled off Womack at third to end the inning.
The Lady Bearcats had taken a 3-0 lead in the fourth on Boatright’s two-run triple to right center with two outs. Ferguson reached on an error to start the frame and Kate Gionfriddo sacrificed courtesy runner Kinlie Bernard to second. Ava Gibson walked with two outs before Boatright’s big hit.
“She’s settling in,” Huntsman said. “She’s having better at-bats as the season goes along.”
The Lady Bearcats put the first two runners on in the fifth via a single by Caver and a walk from Jones but Jillian Whitmire grounded into a hard-luck double play with a hot shot right to Womack, who stepped on third and threw across the diamond for the second out of the inning.
Sherman got on the board when, with one out in the second, Ferguson singled to right and Gionfriddo followed with a grounder to third. Womack tried to get the force at second on Bernard but her throw forced second baseman Paris Pickett to come off the bag for the catch.
Mackenzie Clark sacrificed the runners over and when Womack dropped a pickoff attempt at third, Bernard scampered home.
Sherman missed an opportunity to pad its lead in the third with a two-out rally. Caver, who was 2-for-3, and Jones each singled to right and were both in scoring position thanks to an error on Jones’ hit. The Lady Wildcats escaped the inning unscathed and then couldn’t capitalize in their next at-bat to tie the score.
Womack led off with a single, took second when the throw to the bag was wide and was sacrificed to third. She stayed anchored there after a failed sacrifice and a groundout with runners at the corners following a walk by Magnuson.
It was a continuing theme of Sulphur Springs wasting its early chances — the Lady Wildcats put runners at the corners in the first with one out before Ferguson induced a foulout behind the plate and a strikeout and then a runner in scoring position with one out remained stranded.
“We’re coming around. I knew going into the season, our schedule was going to be tough but we did that so we could see things that we would see once we got to district. ” Huntsman said. “When the bats work, we have success. If the bottom of the order hits, we usually come out on top.”