Pottsboro beats Howe to start district play
HOWE — After opening the season with a pair of losses and a tie, the Pottsboro Lady Cardinals made the most of their final at-bats before their first district contest.
The total: 22 on base leading to 17 runs in a blowout win over Sanger.
“Anytime you can score runs like that, it gets the confidence going,” Pottsboro head coach Phil Shope said. “We’re young and that game was big for us. You always want to be building up their confidence."
And even though the 11-3A opener was delayed by a day, the confidence carried over and Pottsboro came away with a 10-1 victory over Howe.
Aly Malone allowed an unearned run on two hits with 14 strikeouts and two walks, Kara Nuemann was 3-for-4 with a double, drove in two runs and scored, Tessa Delacruz had an RBI triple, walked and scored twice and Sadae Martinez singled, walked twice and scored twice for Pottsboro (2-2-1, 1-0).
Alexia Womack singled and walked, Hannah Dwyer walked and scored and Railyn Murphy singled for Howe (1-1, 0-1), which hadn’t played in a week after bad weather cancelled its tournament.
Pottsboro provided plenty of support for Malone, who settled in after the first five batters.
Dwyer walked on four pitches to lead off the first and went to second on a passed ball during a strikeout. She moved over to third on a groundout and the inning stayed alive when catcher Delacruz dropped a popup in front of the plate.
Dwyer then scored on a wild pitch and Howe had a chance to tie when Womack walked and stole second to put a pair in scoring position but Malone induced a popout to second to end the inning.
That was the start of a stretch where she retired 16 of the next 17 batters with the only base runner being Murphy’s single to left with two out in the third.
Malone then set down the next 10 Lady Bulldogs, including seven consecutive strikeouts.
“She moves the ball pretty well,” Shope said. “When she gets in that groove she’s tough to beat.”
Womack led off the seventh with Howe’s only other hit before a forceout and two strikeouts ended the game.
The Lady Cardinals, meanwhile, scored in every inning but the third and their biggest output was a three-run fourth where the ball never left the infield. Already staked to a 4-1 lead, Pottsboro broke the game open there. Martinez beat out a grounder to short, stole second and went to third when Delacruz followed with a walk.
Ball four of her at-bat was a wild pitch, so Martinez went to third and Cruz continued all the way to second. Nuemann drove in a run with a groundout to third, Malone followed with an RBI groundout back to the pitcher and Lexi Williams made it 7-1 with her RBI groundout.
“Do what the game’s asking you to do,” Shope said. “We try to be aggressive at the plate but also know the difference between a ball and a strike.”
Pottsboro tacked on runs in each of the following innings.
In the fifth, Emily Pittman reached on an error, stole second and then a pair of wild pitches brought her around.
Nuemann made it 9-1 in the sixth when she singled to left, stole second with two outs and went to third when the throw got away. She then scampered home on a wild pitch.
The Lady Cardinals finished the scoring in the seventh when Nuemann’s two-out double to right plated Martinez, who had walked and moved up on a wild pitch.
Pottsboro had a 2-0 advantage three batters into the contest. Kayci Shiltz singled, stole second and scored on Delacruz’s triple to the right-center field wall. She scored on the play as the ball got away on the relay attempt.
It was a 4-1 lead for the Lady Cardinals in the second after they loaded the bases on a single by Emma Hughes, Pittman was hit by a pitch and Angelica Esparza walked on a 3-2 pitch.
Shiltz reached on a fielder’s choice in the hole to short as Dwyer tried for the force at third but the throw was late. Esparza eventually scored on a two-out wild pitch.