Cagle tosses one-hitter as Lady Cats win area title

By Richard Greene

Managing Editor

Skylar Cagle’s bid for a no-hitter ended three outs shy as Ponder’s Andi Beer slapped a leadoff single through the infield in the seventh inning.

But the Pilot Point hurler shrugged off any disappointment, going on to complete the one-hit shutout in the Lady Cats’ 5-0 victory Friday in the Class 2A Region II area round game at Denton High School.

“When I can keep a team in the playoffs to one hit, it’s a good game,” Cagle said.

“This feels amazing to get this first one. This sets the tone and shows we’re here to stay.”

With the victory, Pilot Point (33-2-1) will meet the winner of the Grandview and Whitewright series in the region quarterfinal next week.

Along with allowing just the one hit, Cagle struck out 13 and issued one walk, which also came in the seventh inning. Ponder managed only four baserunners against Cagle and got one runner past first.

“Thirteen strikeouts and one hit, that’s a good night,” said Pilot Point coach James Ramsey. “But I think she can be better.

“Her changeup was pretty effective. We knew they were expecting the riseball, so it’s nice to be able to mix it up.”

Cagle was able to get Ponder hitters to continually chase after the riseball. She had multiple strikeouts in every inning but the sixth.

“They were chasing that riseball a bunch and my changeup was on tonight. I was really happy about that,” she said.

Ponder coach Paige Wells said her team couldn’t lay off the riseball, especially after the Lady Cats grabbed the early lead.

“We knew that was the pitch to lay off of,” Wells said. “When you’re desperate as we were, it’s hard as hitter to lay off. She did a good job against us.”

Ponder’s season ends at 19-9 after earning a share of the District 9-2A title.

The Pilot Point offense gave Cagle all the run support she needed in the first inning, pushing across the first of five runs.

Leadoff hitter Natalie Larson worked a walk at the end of an eight-pitch at-bat. She later came around to score on Preslee Gallway’s double to left-center field.

Larson reached base all four times, going 3-for-3. She drove in runs in the second and fourth innings with two-out singles to right-center field.

Her fourth-inning run scoring hit followed Sierra Brooks’ RBI-double to the left-field fence and pushed the Lady Cats’ lead to 5-0.

“It’s a big responsibility to be the first one up,” Larson said. “You set the tone for the night. There’s a lot of pressure. I’m proud to be able to get things going.”

Ramsey was impressed with Larson’s approach at the plate.

“You could tell by the way she stepped into the box that she was ready to hit,” the Pilot Point coach said.

Larson put the Lady Cats in position to add one more insurance run in the bottom of the sixth with a two-out triple to the right-center field fence.

“I needed that,” Larson said. “If I was faster, I could have made it home for a home run.”

She was stranded at third as Ponder pitcher Jessica Orozco tallied her eighth strikeout of the night.

Pilot Point managed 10 hits off Orozco with four of the hits coming from the bottom half of the order, including the single and double from Kalyn Salsman and Sierra Brooks in the two-run fourth.

“We had some different girls step up,” Ramsey said. “It’s always nice to have the other girls come through.

“We were antsy to get on the field. We clinched the district title with two games left. We were ready to get out and play a meaningful game.”

After the win, the Lady Cats have more meaningful games to play.