Whitewright clinches playoffs, moves into tie for 2nd
BONHAM — When the schedule came out it was the stretch of games that was going to define Whitewright’s season.
The first trip through the gauntlet of Bells, Bonham and Gunter resulted in losses which put Whitewright in fourth place.
Since then there have been seven straight victories and a chance to sweep through the second half of 11-3A play.
There is also the chance to earn a share of the district title after the final victory of Whitewright’s revenge tour, 13-3, in five innings over Gunter in game played at Bonham due to bad weather conditions.
Whitewright (19-4, 9-3) clinched a playoff spot and moved into a tie with Gunter (16-6, 9-3) for second that essentially includes Bonham, who is at 8-3 and needs to make up its game against last-place Leonard. They are all two games behind Bells but the Lady Panthers finish with Bonham and Gunter, meaning there is a possibility for a four-way tie.
“We have done our part to get the position where we want to be,” Whitewright head coach Zach Gillen said. “We’ve moved up from fourth and into a tie for second and coming through this last stretch, we’re the team to beat right now with how we’re playing.”
After losing to Bells, Bonham and Gunter by a combined six runs, Whitewright turned the table and won the rematches by a combined 22 runs with none closer than a four-run margin.
Madie Rohre was 2-for-4 with a double and four RBI and earned the win by scattering five hits, three walks and striking out seven, Hayden Thompson was 2-for-4 with three RBI, Gracie Robinson was 3-for-3 with two doubles, drove in a run and scored twice, Natalie Alexander was 2-for-2 with a double, walked twice, drove in a pair and scored three times, Kiley Anderson was 2-for-3 with a double and drove in a run and Laura Taylor was 2-for-3 with a double, drove in a run and scored twice for Whitewright, which hosts Pottsboro on Tuesday.
“There’s not an easy out in there,” Gillen said.
Olivia Eft was 2-for-3, drove in a run and scored, Hayden Fox doubled, walked and scored and Sarah Beth Jackson singled and drove in a run for Gunter, which plays at Blue Ridge on Tuesday night.
Whitewright enacted the run-rule with four runs in the fifth. Robinson and Taylor opened the frame with doubles, the latter driving in a run, and Natalie Alexander had a one-out RBI single up the middle. Kyleigh Clements walked before Rohre's RBI hit through the right side and then Thompson ended it with an infield single to short which plated the last run.
Gunter used a two-out rally in the fifth to continue chipping away at the deficit. Fox walked, stole second and after Rhyan Pogue was hit by a pitch, scored on Eft’s single up the middle to make it 9-3.
Gunter had a chance to get closer with a pair of runners in scoring position. Courtesy runner Elle Whitteker tried to score on a wild pitch but the carom came right back to Kiera Anderson and she was able to dive across the plate as Whitteker slid into her glove for the final out of the inning.
“Had we not gotten that out it would have been a whole different ball game,” Gillen said.
Gunter got on the board with two runs in the fourth. The bases were loaded after Pogue and Makenna Kincheloe walked around and infield single from Eft.
A wild pitch brought in the first run and Jackson grounded to second to make it 9-2.
Whitewright made an early charge stand up.
Robinson kicked off a two-run push in the third inning with a one-out double to center. Taylor’s bunt single put runners at the corners and Natalie Alexander drove them in with a two-out double to right center and it was 9-0.
Thompson had a two-out, two run single in the second. Makayla Alexander doubled, Natalie Alexander followed with a bunt single and it looked like Whitewright would waste that opportunity before Thompson delivered.
Whitewright nearly batted around as its opened a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the first.
Makayla Alexander walked, stole second and went to third on the wild pitch which sent Natalie Alexander’s to first on a walk. Clements walked to load the bases and Rohre doubled over the bag at first to clear the bases.
Following an out, Kiley Anderson sent an RBI double into the right-field corner and Robinson dunked a two-out single into right for the final run of the inning.
“You put pressure on them right away and it can be hard to dig out of,” Gillen said.